Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday 9th September


21 08.317 S
175 10.867 W

All the tourist type books that we have read said that Tonga “closes down” on Sunday, we were about to find out for ourselves if this was true. We expected to hear the church bells ringing from some horrendous hour in the morning (they are reported to begin at 04.00hrs) however by 08.30 hrs we still hadn’t heard any ringing – this was our first surprise of the day. After a leisurely breakfast we decided to go and see if we could find the famous Ha’amonga – this is a man made stone arch on similar lines to the ones at Stonehenge in England. Our car ride to find this monument took us through the center of town which was indeed dead – there wasn’t a car to be seen on the road anywhere except outside of the churches which were obviously doing a roaring trade, and through several small villages where again every church seemed to be full to overflowing. We counted 5 churches in one town which appeared to have only 20 houses and we wondered how they all survived, maybe they take it in turn to be the church of the week. Anyway our drive took us out along the east road and we hoped to see the terraced tombs on our way but somehow we missed them – as I have said before it is not a well signposted island and finding places is extremely difficult and asking for directions is the biggest waste of time ever as the Tongans give answers that are open to all sorts of interpretations. We did however manage to find the Ha’amonga; we chanced upon it as we rounded a corner and it was off to the side of the road. The car screeched to a halt and we piled out to read the information board and take some photos.
There are a couple of theories as to why the Ha’amonga was built, the most popular being that it acts in the same way as Stonehenge is thought to act – as a seasonal calendar. There was actually a small tour bus at the site when we arrived so obviously some one works on Sunday! After taking our photos we trouped back to the car and continued round the east coast, our plan was to try and find the Stalactite cave. We traveled the road but couldn’t find the turn off for the cave – again no signs anywhere and when we reached a village with a name posted on the church outside we realized that we must have drive right past the turnoff without noticing it, we voted not to go back to find it, these roads were pretty bad on the suspension and not so hot on the bodies sitting in the car either. We drove back through town and found the other business that was open on a Sunday – the bakery, where we bought fresh bread and doughnuts and made our way back to the boat for a late lunch. Our afternoon was spent quietly onboard, with me typing blog notes and loading photos on the computer whist Gerry slept and Abigail began organizing her stuff ready to pack – this was her last day with us, she flies out in the morning. Dinner time came round and we went across the road to the café reef which we had discovered yesterday; we had a very nice dinner there before returning to the boat to help Abigail finish packing her bag and copy the photos onto disc for her. We all went to bed late, making the most of our last evening together for a while.



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