Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Day Trip Around Neiafu

We have been continuing off-season maintenance projects, and a few diving expeditions. But last Monday we took a break from our work and diving, and did an "island tour" of Neiafu.

In his typical fashion, Dave asked every taxi driver he met for quotes and offers, and got a range of propositions, from $100 Tongan per person to $25 Tongan per person. So we finally set up with "Primrose", one of the prominent members of the Neiafu Market, and also a taxi driver, to do an island tour for $25 per person. We squeezed 5 of us (Pimmie+4 of us) into his 2-door Bronco, and spent all day driving around with Primrose. We pretty much drove every inch of developed road in Vavau.

Sherry & Amy with Primrose

We stopped and looked at the small farms that grow the vegetables we see in the market--so we could identify the plants ourselves better.

Taro Fields

We stopped at the Botanical Gardens for a drink, but didn't go inside (we plan to do that on another day). We also saw the airport, and the nice new roads that the Chinese are building for Tonga.

We stopped at one of the 'barns' that the local women meet in to work on their weaving together. They were weaving both floor and wall mats and ta'ovalas (a finely woven mat that is wrapped around the waist and tied with a rope--the Tongan equivalent of wearing a tie). Wikipedia comments on Ta'ovala.

The Tongan Equivalent of a Sewing Circle

This is actually an article of dress clothing in Tonga

We stopped at the largest Kava processing plant in Neiafu.

The Kava Processing "Plant"

Kava is a plant that is harvested for its root and stem. When powdered and then 'brewed', it makes a mild narcotic drink that is a traditional ceremonial drink in Tonga and Fiji. (More on Kava ceremonies when we get to Fiji). Kava is a much better cash crop these days than Copra (dried cocounut harvested for coconut oil). Wikipedia on Kava

Kava Growing

Kava Chips Drying

The Kava Crusher

Powdered Kava Ready to Bag

One unexpected highlight was a short stop at a lookout place that happened to be next to an elementary school. The kids were at recess, and when we waved to them, they rushed to the fence and all waved at us eagerly.

School Kids at Recess

Roger from s/v Shango wanted to give a few of them a "high five". Little did he know that they ALL wanted to high five!!

Roger High Fiving the Whole School

As we drove away, we commented to Primrose that, in America, we probably would have been arrested for loitering about a school yard... sigh... it was hard explaining that one fully to Primrose.

It was a worthwhile day, especially for the chance to get a Tongan perspective on things, from someone who speaks pretty good English. Here are a few other random pictures we took on the 'tour'.

A Typical Local Boat, used for both Fishing and Ferry Duties

A Methodist Church High on a Hill in a Small Town--With "Stained Glass" Windows

Tongan Version of an Auto Parts Store

A Lovely Tongan Gravesite With the Best View on Neiafu

This was also the day they announced that the King of Tonga had passed away unexpectedly in Hong Kong. So in addition to Pimmie's comments on all things Tongan in Neiafu, we got an up-close perspective on the King's passing, his likely successor, and what the funeral will be like.

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