Day 3 (Church and a Tour)

The mosquitoes were no fun last night. We awoke on a Sunday in Tonga. This meant that everything was closed except for the bakeries. Tonga is mostly Christian and strictly observes the Sabbath. We had breakfast and made for church. Vince had previously obtained a recommendation for a local church (St. Mary’s Cathedral) that was within walking distance. Since all business is closed on Sunday I had asked Ben on Saturday night how people get to church with no taxis. He said that there are so many churches that one can always walk.

We also learned that all types of sport are banned on Sunday, including swimming. This put off the plan to rig the boat for swimming in the afternoon. Going shirtless on any day is also a no-no, so Diego managed to keep fully covered. We put on our Sunday best, shaved and arrived at the church by foot at 10am.

The attraction of the church was the singing. Not the choir – there was none. The audience was absolutely amazing, all that Vince had suggested and more. Apparently this is typical of many of the South Pacific islands, but Tonga is reputed to be the best. The reputation seems well-deserved. We were the only westerners in the house, and may have been the only ones not signing. The locals seemed fine with this, and the pastor even thanked us (“out international guests”) for our presence. I discretely made a recording of about an hour’s worth of the heavenly music on my iPhone.

Later Vince called Wesley from Fidelis. Wesley had helped out Vince with immigration earlier and was looking forward to giving us an island tour. We spent most of the day in his van, touring the perimeter of the island. He took us to the spot where Captain Cook first came ashore in Tonga. Wesley tried to take some photos of us with my iPhone, but that didn’t work out. Connor and I went to the waterline where there were countless numbers of small crabs coming and going from holes in the mud.

Later we visited what we call Tongan Stonehenge (Ha’amonga ‘a Maui). The ancient monument doubles as a playground for local kids. Connor and the crew climbed up the limestone edifice and we got some photos. Later some local kids gave Connor a woodcarving. Wesley said they were made nearby, which is probably where they got it. The kids were chuckling – probably because it was a fertility tiki. They also gave us some tangerines. Wesley took us out to the beach nearby, where there was an abundance of coconuts in various stages. We gathered up a couple that were fresh, which we could tell from the water sound inside. Wesley had a lot of fun pointing out that the more ripe coconuts had a spongy white center that resembled man’s brains, which we tried. He kept repeating that, which must have been some sort of tourist play on cannibalism.

Later we visited a viewing point along the southwestern shoreline. There are really interesting outcroppings that are flat with a lip that retains water. The waves crash into the face of the outcroppings and force water up through openings. It shoots up dramatically all along the coastline for several miles. It was really cool, and tough to get pictures to do it justice.

Finally Wesley took us to a resort of sorts, one the northern tip of the island between Kanokupolu and Ha’akili, since resorts are the only places to get a beer (and a Coke for Connor) on the island on Sunday. We watched the sunset and Connor and I swam in a saltwater pool that was actually a three-sided concrete barrier that extended out into the ocean. There were just a few guests at the resort from what we could tell, and the bartender seemed happy to see us. Just after sunset we learned that Wesley’s van had a flat tire. He was out fixing it while we were swimming. Eventually he got us back to Fidelis for the night.

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