Lola & Toni in the Tonga


Eva Pe
October 1, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So, we haven’t been posting lately probably due to the fact that we are lazy!!  ha ha.   I know we haven’t posted about the coronation and events preceding it yet, and I am pretty sure that we won’t get to it.  I will mention a little here though.  There was about a week and a half full of events prior to the coronation which is called Heilala week.  Heilala is actually the week celebrating the King’s birthday (the former king).  Fortunately, to make all the events fall around the same time, the new king changed his birthday.  A little odd, but he is king, so he can do whatever he likes.  Heilala consisted of many cultural performances, sporting events, a block party, a beauty contest and many many other things.  There was something going on all the time.  For Peace Corps volunteers there was the International volunteers day, where all the volunteers set up booths about their organization and did cultural performances either reflecting Tonga or their home country.  Those that attended were the JICA (Japanese Volunteers), Australia, and of course the Peace Corps.  There was also the parade where the Peace Corps put together a float as well as many volunteers riding their bikes.  Both events were great fun.  Then of course, the coronation happened (I left many events out) which was the main event.  It happened in the church right next to our old house.  We moved recently, but that is another story.  We were able to just walk out the door and watch the king drive by on his way to the church.   Anyway, we posted some pictures (at Picasa) that haven’t been organized or anything yet.  I also have some good pics from friends that I haven’t put on their yet either.

As far as recent events…..Many of the group 71 volunteers have finished up their service and headed back to the states.   Recently, we had Justin, the last volunteer from group 71 who was posted in Vava’u come through.  Since he hadn’t seen much of Tongatapu and had now finished his service, he was legal to drive again.  So, we all went in together to rent a car and go eva pe.  Eva pe is a phrased often used in Tonga to explain that you are just going, as in nowhere particular.  If you are taking a walk and someone should ask you “alu ki fe” you would reply “eva pe”.  Very vague, but it does the trick.  So, Tuesday afternoon, we all bagged out of work (what, were volunteers!), stopped by the store for snacks and liquid refreshments and were on the road.   Being that Tonga is so small, there are not that many things to see, and they can all be seen in a day (or part of).   We had somewhat of an itinerary of what we wanted to see and just started cruising.  It was odd being in a car with a bunch of other volunteers driving.  You get so used to walking or riding your bike that being in a car is somewhat of a novelty.

Captain Cook's landing place and the "Eva Pe" Crew

Captain Cook

Our first stop was Captain Cook’s landing site.  Actually, I think it was his third landing site in Tonga, but nonetheless he landed there.  The site was known for a large banyan tree that he and his men sat underneath when they came ashore.  Funny thing, the banyan tree was gone, and in its place was a memorial to commemorate the tree.  I have a feeling that it was chopped down piece by piece over the years for firewood, but not sure.  Conveniently, another car showed up while we were there and it just happened to be relatives of our first host family.  We thought we were getting away from anyone we might know and figured we could act like tourists, but Tonga is too small for that. Next on the list was the terraced Royal Tombs about 2 kilometers up the road.  We stopped here for a drink and bathroom break.  It was interesting as the tombs and the stairway up to it were falling apart.  Not much maintenance for a royal tomb, but the bathrooms were clean and had all the amenities, including TP.

  • Terraced Royal tombsTerraced Royal tombs
  • The main event of the day was the Maui Ha’amonga Trilithon.  This was Tongan’s version of Stonehenge but much more on the scale of a small South Pacific Island.  We had heard that it wasn’t as big as it looked in the pictures, so we weren’t expecting anything too exciting, but it was pretty cool.  The blocks weighed anywhere from 40- 50 tons, and were put together pretty well.   Funny thing is that it is a national historical site, and they let us climb all over it.  No where else in the world would they let someone climb on a national historical site like they did there.  There was also another rock at this site that seemed, by the description on the sign, to be a placed where the King would sit.  I am not sure why he would sit there, but if anyone came close, he would hit them with a stick.  I posted a pic of the sign and you may be able to enlarge it and read it.  I just thought it was funny that the king would sit there and hit people with a stick if they came to close.  From the ocean near this site, we were able to see the island of Eua’iki, or the birthplace of Kava in the Tongan islands.

    Trilithon

    Trilithon

    Dancing on the trilithon

    Dancing on the trilithon

    After heading to the very Northeast side of the island, we were going to head down the East coast and hit the remaining sites on our way to the very West end where we were planning a sunset drink at a little resort on the beach.  On the way down, we stopped at a cave which for some reason I can’t remember it’s name.  The cave has a freshwater pool that you can swim in, but it has to be lit with a generator so you can see where you are going.  The problem was that it wasn’t such a nice day and a swim didn’t sound that good, and the fact that it cost 10 Pa’anga to enter.  Remember that we are volunteers, and 10 Pa’anga is roughly half of what we make in a day.  So, we went in to the cave to see a little, but no swimming on this day.  Maybe next time we will take a nice dip when the weather is warm and we have Pa’anga lahi.  At least we can say we have been there, but not necessarily done that.

    Off we went rounding the South shore of the island and heading back up to the Northwest.  On the Southwest side of the islands are the blowholes.  It stretches for about 5 kilometers (yeah, Kilometers!) up the beach and is pretty spectacular.  There are all these table like rocks that spew water up to 30 meters in the air when the tide is right.  It was pretty amazing to see, even if it wasn’t at its most spectacular on this day.

    Blowholes

    Blowholes

    The sun was setting, and we needed to get up to the Northwest to have a sunset beer.  So, off we went, headed for Liku’alofa resort.  Recently, Lara and some friends of ours rode our bikes out there to camp overnight.  It is quite beautiful and has a great little bar/restaurant overlooking the ocean.  We had picked up another volunteer on the way there to join us in our road trip and to see sunset.  We arrived at Liku’alofa and wathced the colors of another beautiful Tongan sunset and relaxed for a while.

    During the whole day, we had two main objectives at the end.  One was to go pick up our friend Steve who was returning from Australia after a medical visit to Brisbane, and to drop Justin off at the wharf so he could catch his boat back to Vava’u and get ready to leave Tonga.  Steve was arriving at 8 pm, and before we knew it, the time was 7:30 and it was about an hour drive to the airport.  Generally in Tonga, you can’t really count on domestic flights arriving on time, they get there when they get there (sometimes the next day), but International flights are generally pretty dependable.  So, we figured by the time we got there, Steve would be through customs and just exiting the airport and we would be there to greet him.   Well, no such luck tonight, the plane was delayed by three hours, and we had to get Justin to the boat.  So, after dropping Justin off at the wharf and considering going back to the airport, we all crashed instead.  It had been a long day, but a great experience with some great friends.  We can finally say that we have seen almost all of the island we live on.  Check out some of the pictures we uploaded to picassa.  we still need to organize them, and there are more to add, but they are finally up.

    Ofa ‘atu, Lola mo Toni

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