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Friday, January 31, 2014

In the aftermath of Cyclone Ian

Sabine and Brian of Fins'n'Flukes in better times


Totally fluked, this is the end my friend! Thank you to everyone who made it what it was! We stood up to a lot over the years but Cyclone Ian was just too much. Ich bin fertig oder Ich haben fertig, Ich vises nicht."

So wrote Brian Heagney on January 16th on Fins'n'Flukes' facebook page.

And he continued, referring to what was left of their dive boat 'Moana' (pictured below), "Many of you may have experienced magic moments off the side of Moana. She was completely destroyed by Cyclone Ian, literally thrown out of the harbor onto the wharf. Our hopes and dreams smashed with the beams and we are afraid we do not have the personal will for recovery from this one. Thank you to everyone who supported us in a Tongan adventure in spite of an inglorious end.".

I had written about Sabine Frank and Brian Heagney's new venture in Ha'apai in the Kingdom of Tonga in a previous blog. Having left Europe several years ago in order to travel the world, they had met in Ha'apai and in 2009 started their own business, Fins 'n' Flukes, a small divebase and hotel, situated on Lifuka Island.

I had on several occasions emailed them to help me contact my friend Horst Berger who has no internet access and to prepay a meal and a drink and a bed for him at their establishment when he comes to Lifuka. Their response was always a "Thanks but no, thanks", including to my most recent one which they replied with a terse "We're in Europe, sorry", which may have been just as well because, while they were away, Cyclone Ian destroyed much of the Ha'apai chain of island, but especially their island of Lifuka,

I never met Sabine and Brian in person, and I have no idea why they should have been so adverse to assisting a fellow-expat in their island paradise, but nobody deserves to return, as they have just done, to the total destruction of their business and their dream of a life in paradise - click here (and click on 'NEXT' above the photo to cycle through the whole album).

Meanwhile, I have had one very short and very hard-to-hear mobile phone conversation with Horst during which I was able to give him the claim numbers for the two WESTERN UNION money transfers I made in recent days. The WESTERN UNION website still shows both transfers as being "ready to be picked up at an Agent location in your Receiver's area". This may mean that Horst is still marooned on his small island and hasn't been able to come across to Lifuka where the WESTERN UNION office is located, or the WESTERN UNION office has no internet access to mark the transfers as claimed, or, indeed, the whole WESTERN UNION office has been destroyed as well. More will transpire in the days and weeks ahead and I will keep you informed.