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Friday, October 9, 2015

Tonga’s Tiny Dancers

The littlest kids were in the first dances.
Now we know why Tongan dancers are so excellent – they start them off young.

This little boy always had a smile on his face.  What was he up to?
One of many Vava’u events showcasing local culture and promoting fundraising for Tonga causes was a local school dance event, sponsored by the New Zealand-based Blue Water Festival.  The dancers were preschoolers, dedicated enough to perform even though they were on holiday.

No question this mom adored her little boy.
The dancers were accompanied by a very competent all-male high school marching band, which led cruisers from Tropicana Café through the rain to the school via parade.  Their band leader was also a fantastic crooner, with a smooth, Louis Armstrong-like voice. 

This mom looked like she was
grooming her cutie for stardom.
    
By the time everyone arrived at the school, the rain stopped, and the sun broke out.  The rain didn’t deter the kid’s devoted parents, who happily collapsed their umbrellas to assist their children’s performance.  Their obvious devotion to their children was almost as charming as the children themselves. 

The local iPad photographer.

Look how young he is!
Mr. Feather look like he’s got a great story.
We saw men in bright red wigs
like this in the rugby parades.
The children were garbed in brightly colored native attire and festooned with flowers, feathers, leaves and shells.  There was even a costume change as the groups alternated between male and female performances.  Impressive, considering how much work went into the making of the costumes!

Divine inspiration? 
In any case, she’s really getting into it.
They sang and danced to a mix of native tunes, like “Happy, Happy Tonga” and even to more mainstream modern classics like “La Bomba.”



Like adult dancers, the children’s skin was oiled up so fans could “stick” their cash tips onto the performers.  Afterward, the tips were gathered into one kitty, as the performance was a fundraiser for the whole school.

At the end of the performance, the children led a “grace” and a substantial complimentary meal of native food was served to the Blue Water Festival visitors, and the performers and their parents.
I thought the leaf dresses were pretty snazzy.

Close up, you can see it took some work to make these leaf dresses.
Couldn’t resist taking a close-up of the cutest little girl.
Tips!  This little girl’s flower necklace
got passed onto me after the performance.  
Not sure how much money Blue Water Festival raised for the school; the prior year it was enough to purchase a trampoline for the school. 

For us, their performance was yet one more example of how delightfully friendly Tongan children are.  Their smiling faces lit up our days far more than the sun did. 

Mission accomplished.  The school
performance definitely collected donations.

Location Location
This post is a recent retrospective of our stop in Nieafu, Kingdom of TONGA ( S18.39.649 W173.58.956) Vava’u island group, where we’re currently cruising.  It was written while we anchored in nearby Hunga Lagoon (S18.42.066 W174.07.551) and set to post while we're out of wifi range.

Buffet time!  Cruisers chowing down, bedecked in the flowers
from the performers.
Cruising Progress by the Numbers
As of our start, December 7th 2014, from Jacksonville FL NAS, USA until our current travels around in Tonga’s Vava’u group -- ~10 months, we’ve spent about a third of our time --122 days -- sailing and covered 8,733 nautical miles.  The prior 2 years combined, we sailed 3762 miles.  By the time we arrive in New Zealand in November, less than a year from when we set out, we expect we’ll sail over 10,000 miles this year.  That’s a lot of miles for a boat with a hull speed of 7 knots; we usually sail far slower than that.