The 2017 Crew Lands in Tonga
Just under three weeks ago, I finished up my final work day in NYC and left for the airport less than 24 hours later with nothing but a backpacker’s sack on my shoulders, a one-way ticket to Auckland in my hand, a mind full of nervous anticipation and a body coursing with adrenaline.
Just under two weeks ago, I met the other four core crew members of the Floating Foundation in person and felt the nerves calm to a quiet hush almost immediately. Our final days in Mangawhai, New Zealand were spent wrapping up office work, cooking meals, telling stories, and passing bits of knowledge back and forth in preparation for our expedition. The days felt busy, and the nights, relaxing; the more I watched Craig, Gary, Aline and Ayla approach every interaction with warmth and enthusiasm, the less I pondered my own worries and fears of the unknown that comes with taking on this 4.5-month project.
Just under one week ago, the five of us flew over the bluest waters and the greenest islands I have ever seen and landed in Tongatapu. Craig reconnected with old friends, met with a few members of the Tongan government who will be supporting our efforts, and gave us our first basic Tongan language lesson.
We flew to Neiafu, Vava’u the following day, wide-eyed and excited, and boarded the Infinity where we met the Captain, Clemens, and his incredibly welcoming family and crew. And my, what a vessel! The masts! The equipment! The kitchen and communal space! The cozy and colorful cabins! The views!
Amongst my new library of thoughts now sits a catalog of images of natural island beauty, bits of knowledge of sea-life operations, and expedition procedures and protocols. Last night, we lit a fire on a nearby beach and cooked foil-wrapped vegetables with homemade coconut cream. We danced amongst new friends from neighboring boats and welcomed a rainstorm until the fire died down and our water bottles laid empty.
My belongings are now fully unpacked, and my nerves seem to have disappeared.
Signing off for now,