First Impressions

Nuku’alofa, Tonga.  16-17 May.

Something got lost in translation when our flights were booked to Tonga on Air New Zealand.  I am used to travelling cheap with Ryan Air, Easyjet, Jetstar and not being offered meals, but I didn’t expect that from a national carrier.  Some people were given food, but not us.  We must have been in the class below cattle class.

I keep saying – it is safer to book our own flights – this confirmed it.

So after a long, hungry day, we arrived in Nuku’alofa Airport at 11pm, and it was raining.  Oh dear, there goes the sleek hair do!  Alas, there was no shell lei and no open restaurants, just some nuts, a beer and a wine from the mini bar.

And then we were serenaded to sleep by the local dogs howling, the local cocks crowing and the local pigs squealing, with the beautiful island mural behind us.

Not to be put off by grey skies, high humidity and intermittent rain we headed off to Talamahu Market on Saturday morning.  It is open 6 days a week, but Saturday is the biggest day.  There was the usual pacific fruit and root vegetables, local crafts, extraordinarily friendly people and massive cakes for Father’s Day which is celebrated tomorrow.  You see, Mother’s Day was last weekend, and as it is too long to wait until September for Father’s Day, it happens now!

We continued our stroll, down to the port area where more market stalls were set beside the road.  I was quite taken by the beautifully stacked firewood and stopped to take a photo.  Just as I had my camera out the stacks collapsed!

We were impressed by the cemeteries, the grave sites are full of flowers and huge banners remembering loved ones.  We also learned that during the mourning period the Tongan people wear black and wrap a woven mat around their waist.