It was good to finally get to Tonga as I had a bit of delay in Auckland due to my stupdity, stress or senility: Air NZ wouldn’t take me because I had only 3 months on my passport. I did have a lovely day with friend Juliette but Auckland was looking wet and murky. Three wonderful friends helped: passport help, airport rides and homestay. Thanks so much.
Again I stayed at Heilala – in the same fale as a year ago, what’s more.
This time the weather was more temperamental but the whales were more reliable, chugging past the beach everyday.
The cooler days allowed me to cycle more easily and investigate different aspects of Tonga.
Tonga is not rampantly touristic and this makes for a relaxed atmosphere where at times the young staff don’t know how to use the espresso machine at a local resort or the resort, apparently built for an expected tourist boom, languishes and Marlon Brando’s ghost lurks waiting to reclaim the darkness……
The lack of tourists makes the experience positive and this tourist happy except where on our last evening we were convinced to visit Oholei ‘resort’ for what was promised to be a true Tongan experience.
The performance was in a cave that our friend told us he feels ‘excited’ to go into because of its spiritual significance. Preceeding the Tongan performance there’s a cacophony of 60s style music and badly prepared food. The host of the whole show turned out to be a self promoting, sexist fellow whose attempts at humour relied on denigrating others while promoting himself as a Christian with designs on usurping Abraham’s place in christian myth. Everything that is awful about culture clash.
A previous local highlight, however, was finding the Blue Banana and the tiny museum at the back of the shop. The Australian-but-long-time-Tongan resident is embarking on establishing a Tongan heritage society and could do with some help from the NZ museum community. He has a store of treasures and some unique items to sell-the tapa fan, for example, that now sits on my wall.
Tonga is a lovely, friendly, welcoming place to relax and I am pleased that Heilala Lodge is such a pleasant place to stay.
Image of Oholei Pamela Lovis