When one lives on an island of approximately 60 miles in circumference, where the Sabbath reigns so supreme that shops are closed by law, restaurants are, for the most part, closed as well, and leisure activities such as jogging or swimming are forbidden, Sundays can get a little redundant. Snorkeling (at resorts only, mind you), kayaking and bicycling are all great options, but some days, a gal just wants to relax. What to do? Explore a side road never before ventured!
Today, we drove from the Big Pineapple of Nuku’alofa to the eastern side of Tongatapu island. We passed between plantations of coconut (“Niu”) trees, taro (“Talo” because there is no “R” in the Tongan alphabet) and tapioca (“Manioke”), we drove through villages where pigs (“Puaka”) lumbered across the way and waved as ladies in wide-brimmed hats, girls in kia-kia’s and men in ta’ovalas meandered from the dozens of churches along our route.
Soon, a road to our left side caught our attention. It was like many roads in the Kingdom: patches of concrete and tar hinting of a heyday when smooth, un-potholed streets
wound its way to the sea. Soon, we passed a graveyard with an interesting bottle arrangement as a centerpiece, and then, we rolled to a stop under the shadows of a palm tree, a magnificent beach with limestone cliffs stretching to our left and a rather wind-battered shelter to our right!
One man wandered some distance off with his dog, but otherwise, not a soul could be seen. We climbed out of our teeny, tiny SUV and headed for the sand, marveling at the solitude, at the perfect, balmy wind, at the panorama of Eua island looming across the waters, at the Dali-esque limestone formations about the beach, at the crystal clear water lapping at our feet, at the lines of pumice washed upon the shore. We collected some of these volcanic rocks and a few dead pieces of coral specked with pink to perhaps make a mobile of in the future. And an hour or so later, as we headed back to our car, we both had to admit:
Being stuck on an island in the middle of the South Pacific definitely has its perks!