Day 26 & 27- January 31 & February 1, 2015 – Saturday & Sunday – At Sea & Nuku’Alofa, Tonga

We arrived at Nku’ Alofa, in the Kingdom of Tonga yesterday evening (Saturday). We were expecting to dock about 6:30 but the Captain announced that we would be about 7-7:30 because we needed to wait for another ship to leave for the dock to be available. While we were at dinner we saw the other ship pass, but didn’t pay it too much attention (after all – we were eating!). This morning I had an email from David Jarvis, our friend and literally back door neighbor. It was his ship leaving! He and li recognized the Amsterdam and apparently were on deck waving. I so much wish I had known and had my camera ready. It truly is a small world when you travel over 12,000 miles from home and your next door neighbor passes within a quarter of a mile of you.

We were greeted by the traditional Lali drums upon arrival, the young lady was blowing a conch shell which makes a mighty noise.

I did get a few sunset photos as we sailed in and after dinner we walked into town just for some exercise and get our bearings.

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Perhaps the loneliest man in Tonga…. He awaits receiving the rope by which he will haul the lines to fast the Amsterdam.

Unique in the South Pacific, Tonga is the only country in the region that was never colonized. Consisting of 176 islands, Tonga has a history dating back over 3,000 years and the monarchy has been in place for around 1,000 years. Tonga was given the nickname “the Friendly Islands” after Captain James Cook arrived here in 1776. In the nineteenth century, missionaries arrived, converting the majority of islanders to Christianity. That holds true today. As we walked the streets this morning, it being a Sunday, church choirs and hymns could be heard everywhere. The Tongan’s faith has become an integral part of their culture.

One result of their strong Christian background is their Sunday Laws. This quote comes from their visitors guide: “ Modest dress is necessary for both Tongans and visitors. It is expected that visitors respect Sunday as a day of rest Businesses and shops are closed by law allowing Tongan families to spend the day attending church for a relaxed day of worship and feasting. No flights are scheduled, and business contracts signed on a Sunday are legally void. It is a very respectful day and sports activities are not permitted.”

We learned it is unlawful for men as well as women to go topless and most Tongans actually swim fully clothed. As you will see in many of my photos their Christian belief extends deeply into their everyday lives.

Perhaps this map will give you a sense of where we are and where we have been.

Following dinner we went to the show, which was the second production by the Amsterdam Dancers & Singers. They are quite good.

After the show we made our way off the ship for a little exploring.

This looks like a popular local spot.

For our friends back home in Canton, Ga.

Kay, Janet & Carl making like the locals. Sitting around downtown was a very popular activity.

Sunday morning, since absolutely nothing is open and you can’t even get a “legal” taxi, we decided we would walk to the “blow holes” on the other side of the island. It only looked like about an inch on the map…. Seriously, we realized it was about 9 miles, but the temperature was nice, there was a cloud cover and the land is absolutely flat. We were offered fare by an unlicensed taxi of $40 for the trip one way. We thought we would walk out and the hire either an illegal “taxi” or a local to bring us back to town. We certainly enjoyed the sights during our walk, some of which I will share.

Carl and I wanted a tattoo, but being Sunday the parlor was closed…

I’m glad we were not staying here…

One of the very few open businesses. I expect everyone must have bread.

This very nice lady, on her way to church stopped to chat. She explained the skirt was traditional for church attendance as well as certain other activities. We quickly learned that Captain Cooks reference to “the Friendly Islands” still held.

The men and boys also wore the skirts over their clothes for church.

Looks tasty…

Boxing Club .. BOOM BOOM.

This young man who was 13 years old and named Bentoy, became our unofficial guide for about a mile. He stayed with us until he reached the street of his home. He told us the blow holes were too far to walk, we should have listened to him.

We passed by several cemeteries. I wish Bentoy was still with us so we could ask about the water bottles on the graves. They were all at least half full… I sure there was some significance.

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We passed this cabinet shop. In the window wedged between a bed and some chairs was a coffin. Just your typical multi-purpose cabinetry shop…

I have to assume that not all hospitals are tobacco free….

Where in the US can you buy as set of used tires and also hire a DJ for your wedding reception?

As on all the islands we have visited, beautiful flowers grow everywhere.

Another example of the islands faith on display.

This is one of the Kings homes. We were told that once a subdivision stood here until he decided it was a good place for his home.

More beautiful roadside flowers.

Small town police station.

At about 5 miles into our trek, the sun came out and our walk became most uncomfortable. The walk itself wasn’t a problem but the sun was becoming one. We stopped at a wall of a church to rest a moment and apply some additional sunscreen. A gentleman came out “just to check on us and make sure we were ok”. This is typical of the island people. They are truly friendly and he was really concerned about us. After assuring him we were fine, he once again asked if there was anything we needed before he took his leave. After he left we began to wonder if perhaps we should have asked him to take us the rest of the way.

We went perhaps another three-quarters of a mile and a van stops and ask if we are ok. We enquire as to how much farther it is to the blow holes. They informed us that they were tourist too from New Zealand and had no idea but offered us a ride. Since they had transportation and we had a map, we accepted. It turned out they were on the island for a wedding and a friend had loaned them the van. They were most generous and we toughly enjoyed their company.

We reached the blow hole!

Our new friends from New Zealand, Jeremy, Kim, Pianika and Jasmine.

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Us with our New Zealand friends. After visiting the blow holes, Pianika informed us that they would take us back to town. This was very generous because they were staying only a few miles from the blow holes. Not only did they take us back to the ship, but also gave is a little sightseeing tour as well.

This is one of the “fishing pigs” we have been told about. They rut in the seabed at low tide for food. The sticks are the traditional style fishing traps. At high tide fish get inside and when the tide go out they are trapped.

I excused myself early from dinner to get some of the late day light for my photos.

These two young men were practicing their skateboarding. Note the traditional skirt. You saw many men and boys wearing the traditional dress. These guys, as everyone I asked, were happy to have their photo taken.

Another view of the fishing traps at higher tide.

Moon rising on the coast.

More traditional dress.

Home awaits me.

It has been a good but tiring day. My Fitbit shows I have walked a little over 13 miles today. Time for rest.

Goodnight.

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1 Response to Day 26 & 27- January 31 & February 1, 2015 – Saturday & Sunday – At Sea & Nuku’Alofa, Tonga

  1. Linda Highnotell says:

    Awesome great day enjoyed reading your blog

    Like

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