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

Cycling across the island

TONGA | Thursday, 28 August 2008 | Views [2362]

Today was exciting and full of events on my final full day in Tonga. I woke up at 8:30 ready to make the most of my final Tongan day. I washed up and made a cup of tea and ate some Weet-Bix although I had no milk. Toni asked me to pay him tonight, so I pulled out my debit card and $100 and asked Michael to take me into town. I’m sure going to miss it when I leave. I walked around for a bit before Toni took me and a couple from Italy into town. First I stopped at the Friend’s Café and I nearly ran out my phone card trying to get a hold of Teressa. She didn’t answer and I figured I’d try again later. So, I stopped for a V energy drink and then walked up to the bike hire shop. On the way these women were trying to convince me to buy some jewelry, but I didn’t have enough money. Next door I hired a bicycle for T$10 and I started cycling away. I’ve been in need of a good workout because I’ve been spending a lot of time either walking or sitting around. I rode past the Royal Palace and along a road along the coast. There is a lagoon on the northern coast of Tongatapu, so I put my bike and bag down and put my feet in the water. There were locals gathering fish and other sea creatures; presumably for food or for sale. Many of the nicer hotels are located along the coastal road. The road became a dirt road and then sand, and I was stuck for awhile. I was seeing crabs and a few other forms of sea life. I turned back around and rode down one street, but it turned out it dead ended at a mechanic. A local gave me directions to the main road that goes all the way up to the northwestern tip of the island. Enrique yesterday told me about Ha’atafu and that there’s a pretty nice beach up there. Since I’ve been here I’ve noticed that people make flower pots out of old tires. I stopped for a bottle of water and then I cycled with all my heart, acting like Tongatapu was my very own and that I was keeping an eye over it. An advantage about Tongatapu is that it’s flat, so riding isn’t difficult. Little children were waving and saying hello to me as I cycled by. My road bicycle would not do too well out here because many of the roads are heavily potholed or are unpaved. Tonga is home to many churches, and I rode past at least a dozen of them. I noticed on a piece of paper the other day that children learn about the Bible in public schools, unlike in America. What we have done in America is that we have ostracized the Lord, and we have become so sinful. Our coins say “In God We Trust” and many people have lobbied to get that motto removed. I’m not really a regular church-goer, but the Lord is a key component in my life. Most of the locals have God’s love present in their heart; therefore they are friendly to each other and to outsiders. I kept cycling endlessly along the main road and I stopped for a drink about halfway between town and Ha’atafu. An interesting thing I’ve observed while in Tonga is that some of the homes look kind of like what you’d see in suburban Los Angeles; two-car garages, nice doors, fences, etc. In Kolovai I saw the flying foxes again, and I took a picture of some Tongan schoolchildren in their uniforms. I continued on for miles and miles passing the Good Samaritan Inn and then going through a gate. A man from New Zealand told me that the tip was only a few minutes away. I cycled along a dirt road that was buzzing with dragonflies and other insects. There was nothing up that way, but I cycled back and stopped at Abel Tasman’s landing site. Just like in New Zealand, I’ve now seen sites of importance to both Tasman and Cook. I relaxed there for about 10 minutes while admiring the scenery and then started to cycle back. I turned down the road that leads to Ha’atafu Beach and ended up there about five minutes later. Today I cycled more than half of the length of Tongatapu; it probably would have been cheaper to explore on my own. I stood at the beach peacefully and put my mosquito-bitten feet in the water. The only things I won’t miss about Tonga are the mozzies (mosquitoes). While there is no malaria in Tonga, Enrique was telling me that dengue fever exists here and that he’s actually seen people who are suffering from it. After relaxing for about 10 minutes I got on my bike and started cycling back toward Nuku’alofa. I stopped for some cookies, as an energy food. I passed all the little children waving to me, and the flying foxes, and all the other memories. While the flying foxes are the only native mammal, nowadays you see pigs, cows, horses, goats and all these other mammals. It took over an hour and a half to reach the outer edge of town. I got a bottle of water and then got back into town at about 2:30. I was gone over three hours and cycling about 30 miles! It felt so rewarding and was the exclamation point on a fabulous week in Tonga! I stopped at the Friend’s Café and gave Teressa a call and was finally able to reach her. Last night I kept signing on and she wasn’t on, but it turned out she slept at her best friend’s house. I told her I was going to head to the internet café because my phone card was about to run out. As I was cycling to the internet café I was nearly hit by a car; I thought I had seen Shannon the Peace Corps volunteer that I met the other day. Shaken, I cycled to the internet café and I saw Cecile again! She was happy to see me. I got online and Teressa messaged me about 15 minutes later. I really, really wish she was here with me! I’ve already told her this is going to be our honeymoon destination. I stayed online for only an hour because I only had T$2 on me and I had to go get some cash. Cecile and I started walking toward her house and she stopped for some flour and eggs first. It turned out that she’s a member of WWOOF also. I’m going to be WWOOFing in New Zealand. We went to her house for a bit and she cooked some curry and rice. She lives in a pretty nice place. I only stayed there for about a half hour because I had to go get some money. It was after 5:00 by then so all of the banks were closed. I stopped at a Western Union place, but they were closed also so I had to visit the ATM. I withdrew some cash and got a Red Bull at the supermarket. I had to go return the bike, so that was next on my list. I told the owner I’d be back by 3:00 PM. I dropped it off and I was on foot again. It felt good to actually be riding a bike for the day. I might hire one in Fiji when I get there. I walked past the Talamahu Market, but everything was already closed. After 6:00 PM it is rather quiet here. I stopped at the Friend’s Café and got a couple of postcards. I stopped at the internet café, but Teressa wasn’t online surprisingly. Maybe she just went to bed early. I emailed everyone telling them about cycling around Tonga. I filled out a postcard for Bob and sent another home. Anyways, I walked up to the Friend’s Café and got vanilla French toast for dinner. My mom used to make “breakfast for dinner” all the time. While eating I was talking with these ladies from New Zealand. They used to live here as a child because their father was working here. They’re not Tongan though. For dessert I got an ice chocolate drink. I needed a good dinner tonight after a rewarding week in Tonga. As a souvenir I got a small jar of Tongan vanilla powder. Vanilla is one of my favorites, and I hope to visit Madagascar someday. At 8:00 I called Toni for a ride back to the guesthouse. Leni showed up less than five minutes later and I said goodbye to those ladies. We stopped at a store first and I got a toothbrush and toothpaste because I can’t stand those fold-up travel toothbrushes. Leni then stopped at another roadside store and I was joking about being taken on a “store tour.” Back at Toni’s I went and paid for my stay, and my total bill ended up being T$225 (about US$125) and that included seven nights, Toni’s tour, the money I owed him, a kava session, the ride to and from the airport, and internet use. That’s pretty damn good for a stay out here. In places like Europe or Iceland I could easily spend more than that in a day. A nice thing Toni lets guests do is to pay for everything at the end of the stay so you don’t have to change money every single day. I went online for a few minutes and then hung out with Diamond and made a cup of tea. It was a long day today, but it was a great day for my last day in Tonga. I know for sure I’ll be back again! For awhile I just relaxed and played games and listened to music on my computer. At about 11:00 I took a shower and washed up well after a breaking a major sweat. Tomorrow morning it’s going to be so hard leaving Tonga, although I have three days in Fiji to look forward to. Out of all the regions I’ve traveled, I have to say I like Australia and Oceania best. I’ve often professed that I deal with cold better than heat; I like the warmth, the food, the ocean, and especially the hospitality! The water is crystal blue, the land is lush green, and everything is quite simply, breathtakingly beautiful! I hope my next big Pacific journey is all the islands of Tuvalu. I really want to be the only tourist (or traveler, I should say)! I can’t really call myself a traveler, either, but rather a monk who is wandering around his temple called the world. I have another busy day tomorrow as I fly to Fiji. I’ll see you on the beautiful Fiji Islands tomorrow night!

Tags: adventures, cycling, islands

 

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