After a relaxing four days in ‘Eua, the weather changed from a crystal, turquoise-skied bliss to downright nasty rain with gale-like winds. Twas perfect cozying-up-with-a-good-book weather you might say? I thought so, too. However, instead of cuddling with a blanket and cup of tea at Tania’s Guesthouse, I had to catch a ferry back to Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu. Due to the torrential rain and wind throughout the night, island rumors forecasted an earlier than normal ferry departure. Like 4:30 a.m. early. Luckily, Tania’s husband was close friends with the captain of the ferry, and I was able to nap in the captain’s quarters until the ferry departed shortly after 6 a.m. The captain and first mate fed me tea and biscuits, too! Such kind gentlemen.
Gwenda stayed behind to enjoy Eua’ for a few more days, and we would meet up again in New Zealand in another month or so. Bidding farewell to my dear friend (and such a beautiful island oasis) was sad, but I was off to the land of sheep and kiwi’s to hopefully find a short-term job. Sheep shearing, fruit picking, hostel cleaning…who knows what awaited me in New Zealand?
With a toot of the ferry horn, we departed Eua’ and motored off into a frenzy of waves and tempestuous winds. Our return ferry trip to Tongatapu was a tad rough, and the elderly lady beside me calmed our fears by praying with her rosary beads. Suffice to say, we landed ashore in Tongatapu with little more than some grumbling tummies and pitter-pattering hearts.
My flight to Auckland, New Zealand wasn’t until 9 p.m. so I had a full day to do nothing but watch my shadow stretch along the dirt streets of Nuku’alofa. Thus, I filled my morning and afternoon meandering through town, scouring for last minute souvenirs, and visiting my favourite coffee cafe for one last semi-strong Nescafe. What’s better than a lazy day on a Pacific island?
As the sun sank behind a calmer sea, the fine folks at Tony’s guesthouse let me nap for several hours before transporting me to the airport. Taco, one of Tony’s new drivers, started singing Tongan loves songs during the short ride. Taco actually pulled the van over to profess his feelings of love and ask me if I’d like to stay on the island to go on a date. Really? Just….no. At this point, I had to be blatantly rude to the poor guy, if only to get his wandering hand off my knee. I must have been rather blunt for Taco didn’t speak to me for the rest of the ride and, after dropping me off on the airport curb, he drove away with squealing tires. Sorry for hurting your feelings, Taco. May you soon find an island princess.
While waiting in line at the airport, a sweet Tongan lady approached and shyly asked if I could help with her luggage. She was visiting family in New Zealand and had packed a few too many bags of special gifts. However, she was already over her airplane kilo allotment and didn’t have room to carry all of her extra bags. Since I only had a small carry-on daypack, could I please check in her extra bags under my name? As a seasoned traveller, I know that this is something that you never do, for obvious safety reasons. She was just so darn cute though, so I threw caution to the wind, said sure, and followed her to a massive stack of luggage. I waited for her to give me the “goods”, thinking I would be checking-in some homemade dresses or perhaps some nice woven rugs. Nope. Thirty kilos of taro root.
The plane ride to Auckland was only two hours and I was entertained by my seatmate, a jovial minister. I left the plane with his email, in case I ever returned to Tonga, and his departing gift of a pocket bible. He made sure that I collected my bags of taro root without hassle, helped me transfer the goods to the thankful Tongan lass, and wished me luck with my continued travels.
Since my plane landed after midnight, there were no buses running into Auckland and I wasn’t paying for cab fare. Luckily, Auckland has one of the best airports in which to spend the night when one is properly prepared (i.e. blanket, eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush.) I curled up on a corner bench and fell asleep remembering the white shores and tepid waters of my Tongan paradise.