August 21, 2012

Kingdom of Tonga next stop for the Backpack Journalists

WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The dateline in a few weeks on this blog (and my column for the Finger Lakes Times newspaper) will not read Watkins Glen. It will read:
 VAVA'U, Kingdom of Tonga.

Admiral Fox and I will be traveling there to attend a sailing regatta and festival (LINK: Tonga Sailing Regatta) about which we will be publishing stories and photos in several magazines. There might even be some video postings for publication involved, too.

The whole thing started in June when Captain Clarence Harvey of the sailing vessel Lotus (yes, the Lotus, the ship we raced in the Banderas Bay race the past three seasons) forwarded me a notice from the group putting on the regatta. The group was looking for a journalist to come, sail, (and eat, drink and be merry, I believe) and then publish about the experience later in whatever publications or video outlets might be interested.

A flurry of emails later and our tickets are booked, we are in a mad scramble to get proper footgear and clothing - while also figuring out how to pack all the needed computer and camera gear.

Oh! And I am learning how to say, "I would like a cold beer, please," in polite Tongan.

The majority of the population of the island nation does speak English so if my Tongan doesn't improve, I will not die of dehydration.

A dream assignment? Yup. And Admiral Fox has already landed a writing and photo assignment from her Zumba magazine. She will also be teaching some Zumba classes  there and posting stories and photos on her website: RoadTrip Zumba.

On my side of the writing fence, I have an overall story about the sailing regatta and festival to do and several feature ideas percolating. I was in contact with the travel writer Rolf Potts (Rolf Potts Vagabonding) who advised me not to get carried away prior to my visit, but check out every grain of sand while in the islands for stories and articles to do later.

Who knows? We just might have to stay in the island paradise a few extra days (or weeks, or months, or years) to see all of what Tonga has to offer. I have wanted to travel in the South Pacific ever since watching the television program, Adventures in Paradise in the early 1960s. (Adventures in Paradise, first episode...).

One feature idea I am considering is swimming with whales. You read correctly. It seems that the whales in the waters around the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga don't mind a little company in the water.

We'll see. It could be instead of my diving in, I'll take some great video and stills of Admiral Fox swimming with these leviathans. Maybe she can teach them a couple of underwater Zumba moves while she is down there.

She is going to be certified soon in Aqua Zumba, after all.

How do you say, I am your friend, in Whale?


Allan L. Winger said...

Bali-Hai is calling - come to me, come to me. Here am I your special island - come to me - come to me.

Remember South Pacific? :-)

Puerto Vallarta Fast Lane - Slowly said...

Sounds like an assignment of a lifetime. Will anxiously await your posts and subsequent articles. Great fun to you both.