The Tongan Adventure

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Canada Day in the Kingdom


We celebrated Canada Day at Poolside with a special Canadian menu of burgers, poutine, Tim Horton’s coffee, and Bloody Caesars.  I had brought a kilo of Timmys back with me and brewed up a pot and offered it for free to anyone who could prove they were Canadian.  But it was Caesars that were the biggest hit.  A bartender friend in Ottawa had told us about powdered clamato mix that was available on line so I had ordered about 25 packages of it just for the occasion.  It tasted like the real thing, and with the addition of a spiced green bean, it was almost like being at home for Canada Day, without the fireworks.  The Caesars have now become a regular cocktail item, and even the non-Canadians like it.

Beauty and the Beast

On Monday, I went down to customs to pick up the shipment that I had ordered online from New Zealand, this included a new display fridge for the bar, as well as some other bar equipment.  Mary had made arrangement for few strong Tongan boys to put it into the back of the trunk and get it into the restaurant. 

This wasn’t an easy task and Mary and I just stayed outside the bar area and let them do their work.  We heard lots of banging and crashing, a bit of swearing and saw lots of sweating but after about an hour or so, it was done – the Beauty was “home”.  The same guys that helped with Beauty had also helped Mary with the Beast in May.  The Beast is a four compartment stainless steel refrigerator for the kitchen that Stephen and I had ordered from New Zealand before we departed Vava’u in late February.  

From what we were told, the whole pick up and set up of the Beast was even worse than Beauty so I was glad not to be around when that happened.  Thank goodness for the strong Tongan boys, we wouldn’t have been able to get it done without them.





On a separate note, the “cop” that had stopped me on Thursday was down at the customs building the day the Beauty arrived and I guess he was pretending to be a customs officer that day.  I didn’t pay him much heed.

I am NOT kona

On my first Thursday back I went over to the Bounty Bar quiz night to meet up with some of the folks I hadn’t seen since my return.  I stayed for a little while but was quite tired with everything going on so I made it an early night.

When I hopped back into the truck, this man, who claimed to be a police officer although he wasn’t wearing a uniform, asked me why the truck registration was not on the windshield .  I took it out of the glove compartment to show it to him and then he asked me for my driver’s license, which I showed him.  I guess since there were no obvious traffic infractions he decided that I was drunk (kona).  I told him that I wasn’t but he insisted I was (I had had three beers over the course of the evening) and he was going to take me to the police station for a test. 

He jumped into the truck and proceeded to give me directions to the station – it’s just around the corner, and I know exactly where it is but he insisted on giving me directions.  Oh well, we got there, he got out of the truck and went to talk to another fellow.  I heard the word kona again, and I yelled out the window “I am NOT kona."  After a few more minutes of conversation he came back to the truck and told me to go home but I should be more careful next time and take a cab home if I had been drinking since the driving laws are the same in Tonga as in New Zealand (I guess he thought I was kiwi).

I mentioned the incident to a few people the next day and it was brought to my attention that if I had been drunk, why did he tell me to drive to the police station?  I hadn’t thought about that but it was a very valid point.  I also learned that one of the yachties had a similar experience with the same fellow the night before as well whilst walking back to her dingy.

As it turns out, he is a little “masoli” (retarded) and the police had offered to look after him and give him odd jobs to keep him occupied and out of trouble.  I guess that night he decided he would be a police officer and hassle all the palangis for fun.


The whole experience was a little unnerving but I was glad to hear that it was an isolated incident.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Home and back again

As mentioned in a previous post, Stephen and I left Vava'u in late February and spent a few days in Sydney before heading back to Canada.  We arrived home on March 6 to a very cold night (it was the winter that never ended) and crashed the night at Dad's place.

After shuttling around for a few weeks between friends and family, we managed to find a medium-term rental in a hotel attached to Stephen's office complex, and right across the street to mine.

While it was good to be "settled", it wasn't quite being home as the house is rented out until July 1.

Stephen returned to work at the end of March, and I started back on April 1.

We had a couple of great months at home, but on May 31st I left Ottawa again for my return to Vava'u.  For those of you who didn't know, Stephen will remain in Canada for a bit, and so we will be doing a lot of back and forth for the foreseeable future.  As it stands now, Stephen will be visiting here at the end of August for a few weeks (I can't wait to see him), and then I will head back to Canada for a few months in October/November and returning to Vava'u in January.

I spent a week in Auckland doing some touristy things (not quite the same without Stephen) and getting some shopping done for the restaurant.

Due to all my purchases, I had to buy another bag and that brought me to three, plus a carry-on.  The morning I checked into my flight, I was told I was overweight (no surprise) but after a few minutes of repacking, I was declared good to go.  The flight to Tongatapu arrived on time and after quickly checking into the hotel, I grabbed a taxi to get to Immigration so I could collect my VISA.

Fortunately, it was ready when I got there and didn't have to wait, so now I am valid for five years.

Horray!!!




The next morning I went back to the airport for my flight north to Vava'u.  Again, due to luggage and weight restrictions, I was deemed overweight and had to pay about $150 CDN in excess baggage fees, it was well worth it as by this point, all I wanted to do was get back to Vava'u.

We arrived back on time and Beth was at the airport to pick me up.  She drove me home, I dropped off my bags, changed my clothes and we then went down to the restaurant.  Throughout the course of the day, I think everyone in town came to see me and to welcome me back.

The Road Home to Canada - Sydney

We left Tonga and made our way to Sydney to reclimatise ourselves to the first world and to partake in the Mardi Gras festivities.

Our hotel was "spitting distance" from the parade route and just down the road from a great Irish pub where we spent many evenings.  One night we met up with a fellow from England who was travelling on his own and he said he was going to a wildlife park the following day and we went along with him.

It was about a half-hour train ride, and then a 15 minute bus ride but well worth the trip as we got to see all the local fauna and even had the opportunity to feed the wallabies.













Saturday was the parade and we had purchased seating in a reserved area on Taylor Square.  We got there about 18:00, found our spot and waited for the parade to begin.  We had access to bars, food stands, and, most importantly bathrooms.

The parade got underway around 20:00 and lasted over an hour.
















Even the ANZ Bank got into the theme decorating the ATMs.



After a nice, but quick, holiday we headed on to Auckland to catch our flight back to Vancouver and then home to Ottawa.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stephen's B-day Rubber Chicken Tour

To celebrate Stephen's birthday, and to have a final farewell before we head to Mardi Gras in Sydney next week, we decided to hold a special rubber chicken tour.  We usually hold the tours in season but we decided it would be worth it, no matter what the turnout.  There were about a dozen people on the tour that was Mardi Gras themed and a few (Stephen included) got all dolled up for the occasion.



Just before heading out, we all posed for a group photo


and when we got to the Marina Bar, Stephen cut the cake that Mary had baked for him.





After that, we went to the Bounty Bar for a few more drinks




and made our way to Moteli for a fakalaty show.  The latys did a special island set for Stephen and a good time was had by all.


Briana and Stephen

Stephen went missing for a while and we finally found him locked in one of the stalls in the bathroom (he has a thing about locking doors).  When we were leaving Behan and Savannah managed to get him out of the stall and carried him to the truck where we poured him into the back and headed home.

Stephen and Behan

Thursday, February 13, 2014

W5

Where to begin?

Car WOES:

Our little Blanche II gave us some battery trouble for about three weeks which meant push-starting her almost every time.  When we could, we would park on a hill so we could roll faster than having to push.  It took about a month or so to find a new battery and once Jeff got it installed, and adapted, she has started like a charm every since.  Let's all keep our fingers crossed.

Weather WOES:

With the utmost respect to our overseas friends who have been experiencing a severely cold and snowy winter, summer in the South Pacific has been brutally HOT with all of us sweltering in the heat and constantly sweating (oh, it's attractive - LOL)  We had all hoped that when Cyclone Ian passed we would get a bit of a break in the heat and humidity, but that hasn't been the case.  Fortunately we have two fans at the house but they often just blow hot air so it's not too refreshing at times, making it difficult to sleep.

To be honest, Christmas Day was one of the only days that was relatively decent.  We had a nice pot-luck at the waterfront with a group of friends and we watched the sunset which was spectacular.



Plumbing WOES:

A normal faucet replacement should be able to be accomplished in about an hour, but not here in Tonga.  We had a leaky faucet but due to Tongan innovation and installation, we were unable to change it out for a new one.  So the next step was to remove the entire kitchen sink and replace it, along with the new faucet - easy enough, right?  Well no, since all the fittings for the new faucet did not match the existing pipes.  We also needed to install a new water shut-off valve as the one at the main did not function resulting in a number of floods in the kitchen before the new one could be installed.  We also had to install a new hot water heater for the kitchen.  Fortunately, we were able to find one (there have been none on the island for months) at the local hardware store but, again, the fittings didn't match so we had to improvise, yet again, resulting in a few more floods.  After about a week of trial and error, we managed to get everything "right" with only a few drips.  Jeff had done most of the work and he was very pleased when we announced it was finally functional.  He hates plumbing.

Refrigeration WOES:

As you may recall, our main bar fridge had conked out on us, and we were able to buy the old Tonga Bob's fridge. Unfortunately, it went on the fritz and we had to call Alan to come take a look at it.  After many days of frustration, he was able to get it up and running again, but we anticipate that we will have to buy a brand new one in the near future. 

All leading to

Financial WOES:

It's been a tough year, the tourist numbers were down, we had lots of unexpected repairs and maintenance to do but all is well at the end of the day.  We're still happy, although we have our moments of despair and frustration, and hopeful that all the issues we've had to deal with are well behind us and we can look forward to smoother days ahead.