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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Around Tongatapu

TONGA | Sunday, 24 August 2008 | Views [1297]

Another fabulous island day has passed, so I’ll tell you all about it. I woke up at 9:15 as I was hearing the distant church bells. It is Sunday and I should be headed to church today; I haven’t been in a long time and I sure love the Lord. Anyways I washed up and made a cup of tea. I figured I’d go on Toni’s tour of Tongatapu because the whole country goes into hibernation on Sunday. My feet are itching from all the bug bites in both here and in Fiji. So, I hung around for a bit and Toni was ready to go at about 10:45. We were going to be gone about 5 or 6 hours today, so it was a big day on Tongatapu. We first stopped at the king’s new palace located toward the center of the island. The Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa is now used by other members of the royal family. Next, we drove past the Mormon temple and stopped at a branched coconut palm. One thing I never knew about coconuts is that they have an outer husk; I figured the coconuts I saw on shelves at home and the ones I see on trees here are two different species, but I noticed in Fiji that they take the outer husk off. Flying foxes are the only native land mammal in Tonga, and that’s what we saw next.

flying foxes

They are a fruit bat; not all bats suck blood. Toni showed us Tongan taro and Michael (my driver) showed us paupau. Next up, we stopped at the spot where the first missionaries landed. Yesterday I met a young man from Newcastle and he’s riding his bike all over Tongatapu. I saw him there and he said last night he slept under a banana tree. He’s a real backpacker! Afterward, we drove to the Good Samaritan Inn for lunch. Toni said we could go swimming while we waited for our food. I had only about 6 pa’anga and there are no places open to change American money, so Toni let me borrow 50 pa’anga. The water is crystal clear and I couldn’t wait to jump on in, so I ordered fish and chips and then went swimming in the clearest, bluest water.

Teressa told me that she noticed that we both love being in the water and I sure do! I wish she was here with me. I swam out to sea about 20 or 30 meters and stayed out there for about 15 minutes. Ashore, I was playing catch with a coconut with a boy from New Zealand. Coconuts have made it to so many different places because they float and are adapted to drifting in salt water, and dead coconuts have been found in unlikely places like Norway. I heaved the coconut as far as I could out into the ocean thinking that it would reach Tokelau or another island and grow into a tree. The fish and chips were quite delicious! After eating, we noticed whales out in the ocean. Last year in Iceland I went whale watching and I didn’t see a thing! In other words that was a cold, uncomfortable, and expensive boat ride. This time I got to see some for free! In all I saw about ten whales and got a couple of good shots. The next stop was the blow holes. As the waves crash against the rock, water spouts through the openings. They’re an impressive geological formation. I climbed up on a rock so I get the ocean in a photo behind me, and it kind of looks like the Little Mermaid.

blow holes

We drove to two other beaches and I just put my feet in the water. The water is so blue here, and if Teressa and I ever get married this is where I’d take her for our honeymoon. At about 2:30 we visited Ha’amonga ‘a Maui trilithon. No one is sure why, when or how it was built; it is believed to have been built around 1200 AD by Tu’itatui. There are two theories as to why it was built; it is believed to have been a gateway to an ancient palace, and the other theory is that it had an astronomical purpose. For this reason, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui is often considered the “Stonehenge of Tonga.” There were two girls on top of the trilithon, so I thought I’d climb up. It was a difficult climb because I was wearing thongs and the rocks were prickly. Anyways I made it up and I was about 20 feet above the ground. I took a photo with the two Tongan girls and they walk nonchalantly across the top of the trilithon.

If you fell, you’d probably break your back. The pictures that Michael and Tohi took weren’t so good, so I climbed up a second time. It is tougher getting down than up. I made sure they took photos with the whole structure in the picture.

Afterward we stopped at a bakery and I get a sausage roll and three lamingtons, which also come in raspberry. We were in M’ua, which is the ancient capital of Tonga. The final stop was Captain Cook’s landing place; I’ve now visited several sites of importance to Captain Cook. He was like me: an adventurer and an explorer. At about 4:30 we were back at Toni’s Guesthouse. It was such an awesome trip and is well worth the money. I relaxed for a few minutes and made a cup of tea. Yesterday I heard about a barbeque that was going on at the place I was at yesterday, so I walked up. I didn’t see the young man I was hanging out with, so I walked to the place where I saw Mateaki yesterday. These dogs started chasing me and gnashing their teeth and I was absolutely scared shitless. I ran and ran and tried to climb up on a roof or something like that, but the dogs stopped and my heart was pounding. Mateaki saw me and came outside. He said the dogs wouldn’t have done anything to me, but I was bitten by a dog when I was younger so I’m very cautious around dogs. He offered me a coconut, so he cut off the top and I drank the water and then he broke it in half. The flesh is jelly-like in a white coconut. White coconuts have soft flesh whereas brown coconuts have harder flesh. I only hung out there for about a half hour, and by then I was so stuffed. Tongans have provided me with so much food that I’ve been stuffed everyday. I went back to Toni’s and got on the internet for about a half hour and Teressa emailed me. She misses me so much, and I even told her this is where I want to go for our honeymoon. I heard there was going to be kava tonight, so I waited around for that. At about 7:30, I walked down to the other part of the guesthouse and met Toni and the group for kava. This time it was actually a genuine kava bowl, as opposed to the plastic bowl that the taxi drivers had on my first trip to Fiji.

Kava is like a liquid Novocain; it numbs your mouth. It has kind of an earthy taste. I have a few rounds and then decided to head back to my guesthouse. As I was walking back, I noticed how you can see many stars in the sky. I simply love the stars, and I wish I could travel to a distant star much like I travel to a distant country. I took a shower and washed my shorts and underwear and hung them up to dry. Tonga is not as humid as Fiji or northern Australia, so they’ll dry quicker. I’ve been drinking a lot of tea on my trip because there is no Red Bull and I don’t drink coffee, therefore I made another cup of tea tonight. I’ve been thinking about making a run for ‘Eua either tomorrow or the next day, but it will probably be the day after tomorrow. I love it so much here in Tonga, and I should have asked for a much longer stopover. With the hospitality, you could easily stay here several months with little money. One thing I always talk about is that “hospitality” is a “foreign term” to most Americans. If you walked by someone in America, chances are they wouldn’t offer you food, a place to stay, or anything like that. In most places I’ve traveled, people are quite generous. In poorer countries, the people don’t have much so they share what they have. In some countries, it’s not uncommon for people to borrow everyday things, like shoes. When August 29th hits, it’s going to be so hard leaving Tonga. Like Toni, I may pack up everything and move here someday! For about an hour or so I just sat back and relaxed. It is now 10:30 PM and I have another special day in Tonga tomorrow. I’d better get some sleep, so I’ll see you in the morning!


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