Day 28 – February 2, 2015 – Monday – Nuku’ Alofa, Toga

We woke up this morning at 6:30 and this group of men were playing Rugby on the lawn across from the ship’s pier. I don’t know if this was a “pick up” game or an actual team. It was men and not boys playing. Our guide today told us rugby was the favored sport on the island for males.

Something I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post. I explained about all businesses being closed on Sunday. I saw this bank ATM and thought I would get a small amount of local currency. It was open, but the only option I could get when I inserted my card and entered my pin was to check my balance! You can not even withdraw cash from an ATM on Sunday!

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This is the Kings Palace. It was constructed in the Victorian style in 1867 from stone shipped from New Zealand. Carl was reprimanded by a guard for touching the fence surrounding the grounds.

This is our tour bus. It looked like buses from every school on the island were used for the tours. This must have created a logistical challenge since today was the first day of the school year.

For those of you looking to attend college away from home, you might consider the University of the South Pacific, Tonga campus.

We passed by the islands prison. It wasn’t really clear if this store was for the prisioners or operated by the prisoners… or both.

This is the bay where Captain James Cook landed in 1777, the first European to visit Tonga.

This family was selling their wares and preforming for donations at the Cook landing site.

The island has an incrediablly high unemployment rate and the islanders do what ever they can for income.

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Traditional dress with a woven mat skirt.

Our guide Eunice wearing the kie kie (I believe that is how you spell it) which is wrap that both men and women wear to church and any formal occasion such as applying for a job. She made this one herself and said it took two weeks, working about 6 hours a day. She makes and sales these when she is not employed as a guide. She has a degree in computer science.

Another cemetary, the Tongans cover the graves with coral and sand and you often see quilts and even large photos of the deceised. I also learned that the water bottles we saw yesterday at a cemetary are used to discourage pigs from coming into the cemetary.

Lapaha the ancient capital of Tonga’ kings. This village on Tonga’s eastern coast is the former seat of the Tui Tonga — the island’ hereditary rulers from 1200 to 1865. All that remains of the palace complex are 28 langa — terraced and unexcavated royal tombs.

Our bus drivers, in the normal daily wear you see all around the island.

Kay and Janet talking with Henk. Note the real flower lei’s we were given.

The Ha’amonga Trilithon, an ancient stone arch (circa AD 1200) thought to have been used as an astronomical calendar. Eunice our guide said the arch weighs over 9 tons and the coral stones were brought from another island.

This cute little girl was the daughter of one of the sellers of handcrafted at the arch.

These children were in front of a school. They were selling items made by the students to raise money for the school.

After returning from our tour, we visited the market which was setup near the pier.

One of the local items we wanted to purchase was a tapas, the cloth like material made in the ancient way from a specific type of plant. It is then decorated. The inlanders wear tapas for decoration on their clothing. We found this family who were actually creating the tapas while we watched. We purchased a small one.

This gentleman was hand carving various items. I purchased a small tiki from him. He engraved it “Tonga 2015 Love” and signed his name while I waited. The way he did his carving looked kinda dangerous to me…

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This cutie was helping her mother at the market.

Kay purchased a hand made fan from this lady.

As we were getting ready for our departure, the Tonga people continued to entertain us with song and dance. These dancer were on the pier for almost an hour and I couldn’t think of anything except how hot the cement must be on their bare feet.

Except for Sundays, if you can’t get to the bank, the bank will come to you. I believe this is the first time I have ever seen a portable currency exchange.

Part of our entertainment was performed by the Tonga Police Band. They were extremely talented with their instruments. One of the officers had an incredible voice and sang many American songs as well as traditional Tonga songs.

The fan Kay purchased.

My carving.

The tapas we purchased, which we were told represented prosperity and longevity.

After dinner we watched the movie “Gone Girl” with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Kay and Janet had read the book, but we all enjoyed the flick.

Well, it’s almost 11:00 PM and we have two and one-half days at sea to reach Auckland, New Zealand so I better get some rest.

Goodnight

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