Monday, March 01, 2010

Tonga adventures

This a plantation on the small island of Tapana. If I remember correctly the island has 6 people, 2 dogs, and a goat.... Pretty cool.

There is a couple on the island that own the "Paella" resteraunt. The experience of going to this resteraunt, is not like any other I have ever had! Those of you that come and visit will want to venture out to this gem of a place. It is expensive, but worth it.

You drive to Ano beach at the end of the road on the island of Vavau. You then take a small dingy to the island. To get on the dingy you wade into the water (oh, I loved this!! It was great - warm beautiful water) It is about a 4 minute boat ride - unless you have 5 people on this tiny boat, then it is a bit longer! The bay you cross is absolutlely amazing! Yachts are anchored off in the distance, and sky is the clearest blue you can imagine. We left at 5:00 with the sky bright blue. It is very quiet and calm as you cross the bay.

(Picture on right is leaving Ano Beach)

As we arrive on Tapana island you are greeted by a small but nice beach.

The restaurant is only open by reservations when it is not tourist season. So when we arrived we were told to go explore the island. This was a wonderful way for us to see the beauty of Tonga. The first thing we came upon was rows and rows of pineapple plants. Now call me stupid, but I didn't know that pineapple does not grow on trees. Nope it is more like a "bush" it grows very low to the ground. The picture below is of the pineapple rows.

After "getting lost" trying to find the other beach - we made our way back to the restaurant. The restaurant and bungalows (you can spend the night) are very rustic, the views however are amazing. The bathroom is outdoor - very cool to see. Yes there was a toilet, and it flushed!

The two people that own the restaurant made everything by hand. The restaurant itself is made of coconut tree. The chairs and tables are all made from trees off the island. To see what one man put together was incredible.

Water is gathered from the rainfall. It is safe to drink the water, as we did not get sick! Yeah. that was good news.

As sun set we started to dine on traditional Spanish cuisine. The food was good, but I think the experience of being on the island was just special.

After the meal our hosts started to sing and play guitar, Eduardo was very quite all day, and then he came out of his shell as he started to play his guitar and serenade us with a traditional Spanish song. A "yachtie" - (person that travel around on yachts) joined in the fun too!

What made the whole experience extra special was the attitude of the owners.... "come take a look around, take your time" As we spoke with our hosts at the end of the evening she told us this story.....

Tonga is a different way of life, you are not in a hurry when living in Tonga. They see many tourists come and go all year long, they can always tell the difference between a tourist and person that lives in Vavau. Not necessarily by how they look but by how they react to situations. She said when foreigners get "stuck in the bay" if the boat breaks down or something goes wrong they hear the foreigners yelling and cursing. On the other hand if a boat breaks down, or stops and it is a local, you hear laughing. What else can they do? There is no point to yelling and screaming, someone will be by and pull them to shore.

We didn't know that we would have our own story to tell.....

As we left the island and got a ride back on the dingy. (It was dark out- nothing but the bright stars in the sky. We waded in the water and got in the boat) As we waited for Eduardo to start the engine..... we waited and waited..... and waited..... and waited..... he couldn't get the engine (it was a pull start motor) to cooperate. We sat uneasily at first... apprehensive to why the motor didn't start. Then as if we all remembered the story at once and we started to chuckle... really what could we do? We were still pretty close in about ten minutes into this Eduardo got the motor started. Derrick had been holding onto a rope to keep us from going back into shore, so Eduardo said let go of the rope. As Derrick let go, the engine stopped. It was. well really funny. So we sat and took in the night sky as Eduardo pulled the engine rope to get the boat to go! We finally got going and thoroughly enjoyed the ride across the bay.

If anyone comes to visit us, I highly recommend going on this adventure! It was a wonderful experience. Glitches and all - made it a memorable trip!