Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We were in Tonga, how was that possible?

After a few days of getting entertained by David's family, the real trip began at LAX. It was quite a sad goodbye, and we still didn't realize where were we going.

Tonga is a far far away Kingdom, the only surviving monarchy in the Pacific and one of the last ones in the world, a island in the middle of the open ocean between Fiji and Samoa, tiny and unknown (which made it very attractive to our exploring nature). I don't know why or how, but we requested it to be placed in our flight itinerary. We were probably hoping that we were going to find a hidden pacific paradise awaiting four our budget travelling expectations. 2 weeks and a half was our choice, our plans included diving, snorkeling, hiking, swimming, drinking, eating, taking pictures, etc...

Even though the population in Tonga consists of only 101,000, the airport held a big crowd waiting for their visitors from overseas. We felt immediately welcomed by the tropical ambiance and the warmth humidity of the air. We were happy the flight didn't seem so long but our smiles didn't last long. As we tried to go through immigration, the officer informed us that Mexicans require visa, therefore I might have to be deported to Auckland, NZ. My eyes started to tear, I had never had any problems to get into any country, I felt so guilty for relying on the outdated Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry's website to do my travelling requirements research, I chanted, I worried, I felt anxious.

Almost an hour later everything seemed to serve my chants, they let me in for a 30 dollars fee, the officer appeared more chatty and told me that it wasn't the first time this happened with Mexicans. The only one reason they let me in was because the next flight was to NZ and I needed a visa to get there as well. We made a friend at the customs line, he even invited us to a party, as we walked out of the airport to figure out how to call the guest house where we wanted to stay, the owner was already waiting for us.

His name was Toni. Toni is an old British fella, and he likes to complain, and I must say that complaining is really what he was born for. With a fine British accent and a straight tone in his voice Toni went off, and off, and off...As hours went by, we became very familiar with Tongan. Their activities consist of going to church, eating, yelling at each other, sleeping, and going to church. Since it was Easter our only option was to go Tongan, which appeared to be the only one thing possible for tourists or as they call us "Palangas".

Toni explained to us that Tongans are very traditional and lazy, all of them are very religious and their biggest entertainment is for men to hold Kava sessions almost every night. Kava is a drink made out of Kava root which original process of preparation should be through fermentation triggered by teenagers' saliva.

We committed ourselves to try to find out about activities in Tonga, this commitment eventually became in a consistent effort to get Toni to say that something was possible...but no! it wasn't possible. They had Kayaks, but they were broken in half; there were SCUBA centers, but they wouldn't answer the phone, and even if they did Toni would be surprised if their equipment was in conditions to be used; we could take a Ferry to Ha'apai or Vavua which was terribly expensive, and even if we took it probably we wouldn't be able to be back inTongatapu on time to take our plane to Fiji because you never know when things are really going to happen.

But that wasn't the strangest thing at all, what was amusing was the fact that Toni left England 18 years ago to go to Tonga after he read an article in the Reader's Diggest, and never left. He doesn't like Tongans and Tongans don't like him, the reason, he explains is "of course they don't like me, I have a dollar in my pocket". Supposedly, Tongans live on others' expenses, if they eat they have to offer food to everybody around them, if they have money they have to give it away (but mostly they are forced) reason for which no one is motivated to work. Even if you show them the money, they wouldn't do it, it is not possible because they have to rest and even if they didn't have to rest everything was closed.

After two days of heavy rain and of slowly becoming insane by the heat, mosquitoes, and impossibility to do anything, we changed our ticket to Fiji for 2 weeks earlier, that was the only one possible thing in Tonga.

Funny facts about Tonga.

- There is a big population of "Fakaletes" (fake ladies) which are transvestite. The funny part is that families decide to start dressing their boys as women at a very early age just because they need more women.

- The beautiful people are the big people. As David said "Tongans are huge, if they are not tall they are fat" but mostly they are both.

- Their king doesn't like them, he has an old British taxi because it has blinds to avoid his people from seeing him and himself from seeing his people. (this is actually a very sad fact)

- It is an offense to reject food or Kava, David might have eaten dog.

1 comment:

spike said...

I am not supprised that this kind of behaviour is similar to most of the pacific island countries (Tonga/Vanuatu/Samoa).

Drinking kava is a ritual while at day-time the men will all sit around a tree shade or at the farea/nakamals and talk about the kava they had yesterday, while the women do the house duties.