by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog
Another beautiful day in Tonga. Even with sporadic rainfall, there is something magical about the island.
The people are the magic of the island. The people of Tonga are very friendly and make any visitor feel welcomed.
Today we did the two hour self-guided walking trail.
The information center gave the map for this trail when we arrived yesterday at the port.
We started the trail from the port. Our first stop was the Langafonua Handicrafts Center. It is located just behind the Parliament building. There were a range of traditional Tongan handicrafts and fine arts. The center was set up to preserve the ancient craft skills and promote Tongan handicrafts. All are made locally and reflect the proud culture and heritage of the Kingdom of Tonga.
We enjoyed walking along the streets of Nuku’alofa and taking in the sights of the community. There were banana trees, bread trees, and beautiful flowers to admire along our walk.
Our next landmark on the walking trail was the Centennial Church. It is the Free Church of Tonga, built of coral block in 1888. It was a magnificent church but has been affected by the tsunami and other hurricanes. They are in the process of raising money to restore it.
Across from the Centennial Church is Mala’e Kula, the Royal Tombs. The Tonga people lay the body above ground wrapped in burial linen and then cover them with dirt. They look like burial mounds.
We continued our walk back towards the water where we passed Chapel or Zion Hill. The highest point in town, 15 meters above sea level.
Just passed Zion Hill is Mala’e’aloa Cemetery. The name means ‘tragic field’. This cemetery is for Royal people only. We believe we saw a burial happening as we walked by.
Across from the cemetery we were back at the waterfront where we sat and watched white jumping fish.
We finished our time in town by having watermelon smoothies and a local beer at Friends Cafe & Tourist Center. One of the first western restaurants established in Tonga in 1997.
We were blessed not to get very wet today as every time it showered we were in doors.
On our way back to the ship, we picked up a Tonga mask to add to our collection. The prices were better at the tents with handicrafts at the port than at the handicraft center.
Before our ship left Tonga, the police, minister of tourism, and local dancers performed for us as a way to thank us for coming to their island. They put on a fantastic performance for almost an hour, even as the showers came through. At the end of the performance, the minister of tourism said a prayer.
A big take away from Tonga, that the minister of tourism said, we can’t do anything about the weather, we can’t do anything about the rain, but we can do something about our happiness.
Tonga is definitely a place we were so happy to have been able to visit. I know each passenger feels like they took a little of Tonga back in their hearts.
Tomorrow we are back at sea. We are going to be repeating tomorrow twice. Last time we went over the dateline we time traveled forward; this time we get the day back by living Oct. 29 twice.