Just back from a wonderful overnight camp with Karyn on Fulefuka, Goat Island. Although it’s just across the lagoon it’s totally uninhabited and wild and feels completely different, especially on the other side that looks out to endless big ocean.
I’m full of crashing waves, starry skies, dark forest, and lots of sand.
We’ve been wanting to do this for ages and I’m so glad we finally fitted it in – so good to have some proper quality time together, just before we go.
We set up our tent in the cave in case of rain – and the squalls did come in – and made a fire in there too. I liked the idea of sleeping out properly with no tent and get really primordial in the cave..but the mosquitos are unbearable at the mo, and we’d have been sucked mercilessly by those buzzing fiends.
We found lots of signs of recent Tongan picnics around the fire-pit – sea urchin shells and other smashed sea shells that they eat – and sadly way too much rubbish. Its a tragedy to see the Tongans looking after their own environment, on which they so depend, in such a negligent way. I’m not sure if it comes entirely from lack of education regarding what decomposes and what doesn’t, or if it’s just a symptom of classic ‘laid back’ Tongan attitude. In just 20 mins we pick up 3 bags full of plastic bottles, tin cans, and other man made debris. Karyn and Boris have been approached by a tv crew to feature their home in a new series about people building homes and living in remote places. Kevin McCloud is to present and one idea is that he will camp over here to experience true remoteness and, ideally, a pristine tropical environment.
We drank wine huddled on the beach together, and cooked a delicious simple meal. Marlon and Kian had gone out fishing with Soane that morning and caught a fantastic yellow fin tuna, and we had some chunks with us. I cooked them in a coconut husk, the pointy ‘paddle’ bit that grows around the flowers, with some butter and lime and sea salt. They were so so good, fresh, juicy and smoky. We cooked some bok choi from the garden to go with it and ate until suitably stuffed.
Once the moon, a bright full moon, had risen we set out across the island to find the beach where we hoped turtles would be nesting. The moon light made no difference to the darkness of the woods however, her silver light only occasionally making moon shadows amongst the tortured trees. We found ourselves crashing and climbing through, under and over thick bush, snagging branches and twisted roots. There were coconut shells everywhere, millions of them making a disconcerting rocking and rolling dark sea to cross, with a horrible cracking and crunching with every step. We giggled a lot at our clumsiness and the surreal situation, and whispered a pact in the blackness that we would not voice out loud what the coconut shells made us think of.
We finally found the right place and emerged out of the trees onto a wide beach bathed in soft moonlight and searched, with no luck, for turtle tracks. The waves sound different here, a loud rolling rhythm from the open ocean rather than the reef or lagoon. This is the territory of large sharks and whales.
We lay in the sand trying to make reluctant hermit crabs race and when it rained went and sheltered in a large tree and played with sparklers, like old times. I’ve always loved sparklers. When we were kids we used to get in trouble for playing with sparklers outside our dormi window! We did two more out on the beach and made wishes for the future before stumbling happily home to our cave.
We slept well despite surprisingly rock hard sand and woke early. Just as we were contemplating a naked swim a Tongan boat turns up and anchors at the other end of the beach. We made coffee and wondered what they were up to with their sacks. Turns out they were collecting special pink and grey sand, found only on the beach on the far side, for graves. It was to be shipped to Nukolofa.
Once they left we went for a snorkel, I was desperate to see a shark and my wish came true!
We swam over to the large bommie to look for Marlon the leopard shark, passing some fantastic eagle rays along the way, and instead of him there was a large white tipped reef shark. Although small, and harmless, his iconic sleek shark shape made it a breath taking experience. He was so predatory, so confident and strong as he circled around us. So incredible.
We got back just in time to get the fire going and make dampers for breakfast – a favourite for me and a first for Karyn (see recipe link below)- and Kian joined us at the end, picking us up in the blue boat.
We had such a lovely time, two old friends briefly marooned together on Goat Island. As Karyn would say, it was “Epic”.
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