Nuku’alofa, it is fun just pronouncing the name of this capital city of Tonga. Tonga is made up of 176 islands and atolls and we grab the opportunity to kayak in these beautiful pristine waters! Our destination is Pangaimotu Island, a mere 1 mile kayak across the South Pacific. Going to the island was a nice paddle, well until Ron flipped his kayak. It did get scary for a moment but we had our life preservers on so he came right up out of the turquoise blue! The tricky part, besides grabbing hat and sunglasses before they stayed in Tonga forever, was getting back on the kayak. All’s well that ends well and he continued to the beach resort. Well, it is not exactly a resort in U.S. terms, as it is a thatched roof building with a sand floor but they did have an old TV and a pool table. A bunch of bananas hang from one of the ceiling rafters and the walls (?) are decorated with photos from tourists praising this idyllic getaway. We have lunch here and the fried breadfruit is amazing – tastes just like potato chips! We walk the beach while others snorkel – Ron felt he had enough water by this time. We discover coconut palms swaying in the breeze along the golden sand beach. There is a shipwreck close to shore, caused by the cyclone of 1992. We discover a cross built by Catholic missionaries who arrived in the early 19th century. When we start back to the mainland we discover that a very stiff breeze and current makes our paddling quite laborious – a good upper body workout for this day!
We take a shuttle into the capital city, a little town immersed in the Polynesian culture. We learn that this island is where Polynesian was born and later on is when they migrated to the Society Islands. They are ruled in the English tradition and maintain a Royal Palace for their King, built in 1867. The town is bustling with schoolchildren heading home in their Catholic uniforms and everyone is so friendly! Shops and restaurants are very few and we begin to understand the lazy, peaceful, non-threatening way of life of the Polynesian people. They maintain their culture and traditions and live very simply but of course, have their cell phones and satellite TV. We have been told by many tour guides that technology is most important to the natives even though their home does not have windows or doors. The natives of these islands usually live in the 1st house that they purchase and several family members will live together in order to afford the latest technology. It is very hot but air conditioning is non-existent. A very different way of life than what we are used to in the U.S. but their lifestyle provides much happiness and contentment for every generation.