The flights are getting shorter, we are in a very close area. Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga, Samoa ... It is precisely Tonga our next goal, a particularly particular country as it is the only Kingdom of the Pacific Islands, and we soon planted at the airport after checking out at the Novotel Suva Bay breakfast, internet and dinner yesterday (184.02 FJD) where we will not return, and say goodbye to our particular "jefrey", which we have not talked about, but was the first taxi driver who picked us up on the first day of our arrival in Suva, helpful, friendly, punctual (something to assess in this area of the planet) and with which we have made all the displacements (40 FJD).
The plane that takes us to Tonga is a Pacific Sun of Air Pacific very similar (or the same) that will take us to Tuvalu days ago, and with the same punctuality it leaves towards Tonga (where it is 1 hour more, +11 hours with Spain), in a journey of just 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Today we will land in Tongatapu Island, the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga that houses the capital, Nuka'alofa. After Melanesia (Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji) we continue in Polynesia (We already visited Hawaii in 1992 and Tuvalu a couple of days ago). Estams on the largest island of Tonga, the most populous and one of the most densely populated islands in the entire South Pacific. From the air, what we are going to find is dazzled ...
We read before landing that archaeological remains show that the first settlers arrived from the Santa Cruz Islands as part of the original migration of Austrian speakers (Lapita) from Southeast Asia more than 6000 years ago. We are in the oldest place in all of Polynesia! where they quickly spread across all the islands under tribal leaders forming a great maritime empire (of war canoes), having a great empire that included Fiji lands.
And as the history of any country with tribal leaders says, civil war broke out in the 15th century, and later in the 17th century ...
Many may find it heavy, but it is necessary to know the history of a country to be able to contextualize when you step on it. And that we just did for the first time in our life. We are in the Fua'amotu International Airport (small names), and this looks much more civilized than any of the previously visited islands, including Fiji.
The people of Toni Guesthouse with whom we contacted sent us a van to look for us (23 TOP). He Airport is about 30 minutes from the capital, So we need some means of transportation. We are surprised to see posters of all kinds of telephone companies, "Heineken, welcome to the Kingdom of Tonga", talk to our driver and know that there are about 680 km of roads in very good condition, that there is 1 newspaper and 1 radio independent, that education is free and compulsory ...
The Toni Guesthouse is a small farm located on the outskirts of the capital, which has several houses. We have been touched by a yellow one, which has a small kitchen, living room and a spacious and clean room. Around dogs, cats, chickens and even pigs. What is called "Tongan rural tourism". Enough.
We will not waste time with accommodation, as usual, and we talk with Toni to get us down to the capital (23 TOP). We want to get an idea of why Nuku'alofa may be different from the Port Vila, Honiara or Suva that we look back, each with its peculiarities. He also tells us that today there is a dinner with an explanation of the history of Tonga in one of the Tongatapu beaches, in case we want to go, to which we quickly agree. Our route will be something like this ...
We go down to Nuku'alofa and we continue where we leave history, civil wars. It was then the time of the arrival of the first western explorers, this time not Spanish. Abel Tasman, Dutch, the first, but the most significant those of Mr. Cook and the first London missionaries there in the 1770s. The Tongan became mass to Catholicism, and later other religions would arrive. History repeated itself. Today it's amazing to see that there are almost more churches than houses, more than in any other island previously visited (and that we have seen fanaticism in all)
But the most spectacular of all, without a doubt, is the Basilica or Cathedral. with spectacular showcases
But Tonga is a Kingdom, and like every Kingdom has a king, or rather had. The scenic king Siaosi Tupou V (weighing 210 kg) died on March 18 in Hong Kong without leaving male offspring (the laws of Tonga do not allow to name his only daughter and princess) and still mourn. It is assumed that his brother will take control at future dates. "George" Tupou V will go down in history as the first king who allowed democratic elections after the 2006 uprising in the country. Both he and other Tonganese sovereigns rest in the innacesibles royal tombs in front of the basilica. We can also see more memorials in the central area of the capital
Although the true symbol of a truly colonial city, it is the Royal Palace Victorian style, which overlooked the sea from a privileged position, and was built by New Zealand in 1867 white wood and moved to Tonga, where they added the royal chapel and a terrace. They don't let us cross the fence, but we make ourselves "hollow" to visualize it.
We have been to many cities and towns around the world, but if they told us where we would shoot a movie based on the colonial era, we would definitely stay with Nuku'alofa. Its streets seem taken from a stage, with houses of ancient terraces perfectly preserved. This is because the story ends with the usual British protectorate in 1900 although Tonga was never subdued, he always had indigenous government, which fills the tonganos with pride as well as gives confidence of the monarchy, and in 1970 the protectorate would expire.
We pass by Queen Salote pier, today there is not much life and the markets are closed. In front, another beautiful stone church catches our attention
Nuku'alofa is still a big town, a grid with its central bank, its cathedral, its embassies (Taiwan abandonment and now it is the Chinese who eat all businesses, for a change), their consulates, their main (government) hotel, their market ...
We have taken the opportunity to get a few "pa'anga" (local currency of symbol TOP) in an ATM that are changed to about 2.2 TOP per EUR. Prices seem cheaper than in Tuvalu, Solomon and Vanuatu, and of course in Fiji.
Well, it cost us, but we already have everything arranged to access Vava'u. A flight from Chatams Pacific, the local areolinea, will take us there and we will live on an island of the "jellyfish" with a family that has been here for more than 20 years. We will also try to know more about Mourelle, as we talked in his day with Jorge Sanchez.
He Tongano seems to lead an austere life, very marked by religion, without misery or hunger, and happily isolated from the civilized world, but Tonga lives from his Kingdom. A country that imports 6 times more than exports and where its teenagers wear the uniforms of the school they attend.
Like every day since we arrived in this area of the planet, it gets dark soon. It's 18:30 and the sun sets. We have returned to Toni Guesthouse and Paula !! It feels rich !! With so much monopoly ticket in your hands. A rest and a shower put us on the road again
The Tongatapu Island is an atoll with all cliffs on the south coast and a wide lagoon without beaches in the north. There are hardly any beaches in the eastern part of the island. It is in these moments of the trip when we realize that we travel completely by intuitions, suggestions and recommendations. Our own script, the one we always bring, does not have a clear connection between one day and another. The book of Jorge Sanchez from "my trips to the Pacific archipelagos "is a great source of inspiration. The surprise, the contact with the local people, the feeling free (excluding the imprisoning flights) makes us especially proud to be surviving day by day
Setting aside the old mansion of the former King of Tonga, on a small hill, we head to Lavengatonga beach, where at the Oholei Resort Every Wednesday and Friday there is a kind of show that mixes typical dances with Tongan legends (55 TOP per person).
The site is beautiful, next to the sea, full of torches and next to a cave with a lot of history.
Dinner turns out to be a curious buffet, where a kind of half-split rods serve as a plate where to serve the basis of tongana food, with coconut products, taro, chicken, pork, sin, yam and breadfruit
The name of these "elongated fountains" are polas, and among the most typical dishes is Lu Pulu (of taro leaves, meat, onion and coconut cream), Ota Ika (raw sin, tomato, onion, carrot, lemons and gherkins) or the Faikakai Topai ... !! MENUDOS NOMBRECITOS !!
LTonga is particularly complicated for us, much more than other places, and with English it is the official language spoken by more than 100,000 people. It has five vowels and twelve consonants to make words like Malo e lelei (hello), 'Alu a (goodbye), Faka molemole (please),' Lo (yes), Ikai (no), Bad (thank you). I think we will learn it in another life ...
What we do learn is the legend of this place, really exciting. It turns out that 350-400 years ago, a beautiful young woman named Hina who lived near this beach met Sinilau and they fell in love. Their love led them to get married, live together on this beach and be happy, until one day Sinilau went fishing and never came back. Hina was isolated in the cave until he died with a broken heart and his soul is still there waiting for the return of his beloved ... and the cave serving to tell the story to those we approach
Also, there we enjoy a variety of dances from around the kingdom of Tonga, as well as local stories and legends and other songs from the island. Dance continues to play a fundamental role in this culture and serves to pay tribute to gods and kings, being the punake, or the elderly person in the community, who is responsible for composing the songs and movements.
Although Christianity is deeply rooted in the island, the Tongan people have not lost their customs, and that makes us happy to see it. The show with fire is really exciting.
It's almost ls 23'30 when we leave the cave, too late for these countries where he sleeps from 21'00 or 22'00. The bed and a new early bird await us, and tomorrow, a long-awaited place ... Vava'u
Isaac and Paula, from Nuku'alofa (Tonga)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 224.02 FJD (approx. 101.83 EUR) and 156 TOP (approx. 70.91 EUR)