Malo lava friends and family,
I woke up this morning to an urgent and kind voice reminding me today was our chance to snorkel! Our final day in Vava’u, we all rushed to gather our things: snorkel gear, a packed lunch, sunscreen, and a change of clothes. We made our way to VEPA, only a 10 minute walk away, and quickly shuffled onto two boats that brought us to Lotuma Island. An island small enough for us to snorkel around in an hour and a half, it felt amazing to experience snorkeling for the first time.
We all had our buddies to ensure no one would get lost, and everyone’s curiosity and dedication to filming our experience brought us closer together. My favorite part was using my waterproof disposable camera to capture moments of my friends exploring underwater and all the gorgeous and bright fish I had never seen before. Some were comfortable to swim deep and parallel to the coral, whereas others stayed close to the glowing surface, acting almost as protectors over the deep swimmers. There’s a special sort of freedom one can access when exploring the moana, and it meant a lot to me to finally swim in the Pacific again—the first time in two years!
As snorkeling wrapped up, we made our way back to the Seamans shivering and recounting our favorite parts of the morning. Many showered and cleaned up before going out to lunch. A few of us were lucky enough to be greeted by Tapuaki a young, kind, and woman from VEPA. The previous day we had expressed interest in learning how to weave baskets with tree leaves to reduce our use of plastic bags! VEPA has done grassroots work in Vava’u to encourage the use of reusable products in place of harmful plastic; one of their methods is weaving baskets for those who buy produce at the markets.
After a challenging weaving session, we went out to lunch with Tapuaki, talking story and listening to her experience being born and raised on Vava’u. It makes me smile to remember our lunch together- her kindness and openness will follow me throughout this trip, serving as a reminder of how I, too, can hold myself this way. From her, and many of my crewmates, I have been unintentionally shown how far compassion and love between communities can go.
Tomorrow we depart from Vava’u, and I’m already sad to say goodbye. A memory of my uncle comes to mind, where he shared with me “In my next life, my next form- whatever that is, I hope to be reborn in Vava’u.” After this experience, I think I can say the same.
Sending all my love and support to the families and friends keeping up with us through this journey! Thank you always for your constant prayers, positive thoughts, and loving energy.
Fasoifua, and until we meet again!
-Kalo Daley, A Watch, Smith College