Danger Zone

Yesterday was full of sunshine, so we started the day with an easy hike from Port Maurelle, our anchorage, to the neighboring beach. Everything was birdsongs and piglets until Dominic came to a dead halt, seeing a four inch spider skitter across his field of vision, just inches from his face. Its web, woven with electric orange thread the thickness of high-test fishing line, stretched across the path in front of our noses.

It was terrifying. My response was more visceral and gut wrenching than that garnered by any shark or eel. I gasped and hollered and wretched and fumed (how could any benevolent universe create such a horror?), I still shudder when I think about it, and Dominic took a few photos.

We saw three more swinging on flag-sized webs along the well trodden path, one poised to drop down the back of any walker’s unsuspecting neck, and ominous eight-legged forms etched between far off branches. The walk had much else to offer: fantastic birds, oodles of little piglets, butterflies galore, a glorious beach, but I’m glad I made it out without falling victim to a gargantuan arachnid.

Spiders haven’t been the only dangers in these parts. We don’t have complete information, but heard on the VHF this morning about the earthquake in Chile that sent waves throughout the Pacific; they were reported to be four inches when they reached Tonga, and the community had been keeping tsunami watch all night. We didn’t notice a thing, and most likely wouldn’t have even if the waves had been larger as our location is so well protected, but the news still feels like an unnerving reminder of the powers of mother nature. Also scary were the reports of a local fisherman rescued off the northeast coast of Vava’u this morning. His vessel seemed to be lost, he presumably swam to shore and was being transported by a sailing vessel to the dock, and the ambulance was on its way. It made for a concerning morning on the net, but the island seemed to have efficient emergency procedures underway.

Wild times! We’re doing our best to balance the frazzled energy—spiders, tsunamis, and life-or-death swims toward jagged rocks at night—by being as relaxed as possible on this rainy day. We’ve had a leisurely brunch, there’s some restorative yoga in the forecast, maybe we’ll head back to Neiafu to go to a friend’s birthday party tonight, or maybe not.