After almost two months traveling on road, Max booked a flight to Bali. Once there he would meet with his friends from Barcelona and they will surf all day long!
I decided to stay in NZ. I had a whole island ahead and one van!
Just in case, I checked on the Internet about cheap flights... suddently "The Kingdom of Tonga" appeared. Since we got to New Zealand I wanted to travel there because of the whale migration.
So I bought the tickets!
All I knew about Tonga was that it was situated at some point in the middle of the Pacific, and that iy was formed by more than 170 islands. There was still the most important thing: the humpback whales, who migrate from Canada , were coming every year to this region to give birth.
The week after leaving to the islands I spent my days at Auckland, Hamilton and Raglan. I felt very welcome by the people we had been meeting in our trip. They offered me a place to stay, hot shower and warm meal. Being that far from home and feel so welcome is extremely rewarding when you travel alone.
7th October 4.30 am
Malo e me'a mai
I spent the night at Sami and Ed’s coach and they took me to the airport (Thanks again!) From the plain I already could see those micro islands surrounded by turquoise sea. We landed at the capital Nuku’alofa . There are 24.500 people living in it and it is one of the most populated islands of the South Pacific.
Once landed I went directly to the backpackers I had already booked. Once there I met those french guys, a German couple and one guy from Canada that had been traveling for 4 years! (Maëva, Pierre,Nadja, Bank and Kevin). All of them came from NZ. So after that, we rode together everywhere.
We were starving though, so the first thing was going to “Mr.Chicken” (the best fried chicken ever!). After that we went to the market to buy some vegetables, fruit and rum for the night.
We spent the night playing cards and swapping anecdotes about our trips.I must say, that was a nice beginning for the adventure!
The next day I woke up the first one and had a nice chat with Taiana. She is native from Tonga and is the one taking care of the hostel with Stewart. Taiana is such a lovely person, always with a smile on her face. All of us considered her like a mum. The hostel, actually, was like a big house, it remembered me to the holiday camp I went as a kid. After my morning-coffee in company of the cat , all of us decided to go to Abel Tasman, the west part of the island.
We met a guy that offered to take us there. That was a good idea cause in Tonga you never know when the bus will come! Once there, we realised that there was nothing but the clearest water I have ever seen. We walked around the area and finally lay on the beach.
Suddenly, at the horizon we saw some whales jumping ¡I could not believe that! Watching whales from the beach, was that real? The funny thing was that just 5 meters next to the whale, there was one guy surfing. I can’t imagine what he felt at that moment!
On our way back to the hostel (this time we took the bus) we followed the same ritual as the day before. Playing cards, drinking rum and talking!
I woke up at 7.30. I was so excited! Like a 5-year-old child the night before Christmas. That day I would go by boat and if I was lucky maybe see whales !!
I arrive at the Deep-Blue-Diving centre and met Mette and Marc there. Both were traveling alone as well and we spoke the whole trip. The sailing was particularly nice because you could see lots of small islands appearing from nowhere compounded by few palm trees and white sand. All of the islands are surrounded by an amazing turquoise colour. That was for sure how I imagined ‘The Paradise’ as a kid.
After an hour sailing, we saw a huge whale jumping at the horizon followed by her calf. We all jump excited. After that, it became a constant show. Whenever you kept looking at some point at the horizon you could see some whales breathing or jumping. Suddenly a couple of them appear next to the boat so we jumped! We could see the mum and her calf “dancing and singing” in front of us.They were just a couple of minutes, but enough to stay speechless.
After 20 minutes the boat stopped and the guide said: Jump! And there it was: A 15-meter-humpback female resting 10m deep. She was breast-feeding her 4-week-calf. When the clf is that young, needs to go to the surface to breath every 5-10 minutes. So he repeated the scene almost 3 times; they seemed so stately. Their movements were slow and relaxing. And you could even hear them singing. I seriously was about to cry under the water. That swam lasted 25 minutes, and for sure those were the most incredible of my life.
Finally the mum just “woke up” and both of them devoted us a peaceful dancing while getting into the deep blue ocean until we stop seeing them.
Returning to the boat none of us could believe what we had just seen. Was it real? Did I swim with wild whales? Luckily everything was recorded on my camera…
On our way back to the island, Mette , the Danish girl , explained to me that she was staying at some Australian woman’s house that she found thanks to Airbnb. They would rent a car the next day and take a tour around the island and she invited me to join them. Yes!
I woke up and have breakfast as everyday in company of the cat while the other ones were still sleeping. Mette and Debra picked me up at 12.
Mili, Debra’s neighbour , joined us too. She is native from Fiji and that day was the international day of Fiji islands so she was wearing a flag as a skirt!
So, there we were: Catalonia, Denmark,Australia and Fiji. An 'international-girls-car' road to the unknown paradise. Debra’s partner is native from Tonga. He is an international artists and that’s why he travels a lot. She spends some months alone at home and she loves to have some people around.
She started as a volunteer working as with a microfinance organisation that loans to women in Tonga so they can start their own business ans support families. Now she works in the area of international aid & development, working with Tongan government and local organisations in the area of education , maritime & fisheries.
What I discovered that day let me excited. Particularly the cave, where we could swim in total darkness. We could only hear the sound of drops falling from stalactites. We also went to the Blowholes, Cook’s point , The bridge and many other places.
Seriously this country is an unknown paradise. Everyday I was happier for making that decission. We ended at Debra’s place having dinner after a refreshing coconut drink! We kept talking and driking wine like if were friends from long time ago. It was so lucky to meet Mette on the boat!!
Finally they took me to the hostel.
Sunday is an special day in Tonga. All commerce and entertainment activities cease on Sunday . That’s because it is a very religious country. Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga is the established religion in the state. It is the world's only state church in the Methodist tradition of Protestantism, although only one-third of the island's population adheres to it.
While walking around the town in the morning we felt like in a ghost town. There was nobody. Everybody was in church. So.. There was only one thing we could do. Took a boat and go to Pangamatu, a tiny island situated 10 minutes far from Tongatapu.
The thing is that there is literally nothing in Pangamatu except from one bar. That is the only ‘building’ in there; so, that seemed perfect!
And it definitely was.
We got off the boat and rounded the island. In 30 minutes we had already done it! There was that dog that followed us all around like a guide would do.
Back to the city in the afternoon, everything remained the same. Nobody was in the street.
Just the bakery was opened! Haha. So we went there and I bought some cakes for dinner's desert. Mette and Debra invited me and Marc at their place to say good-bye. Marc was leaving to Japan and Mette to Fiji!
Debra spent the whole morning cooking and we had a really amazing fish-curry and many things else! One of the things I loved the most was that everytime I went there we could hear the sound of the ukulele downstairs.
Later on, their neighbours came to say hi, and we stayed two more hours talking and laughing.
Next morning I had really no plan. I woke up, went to the backyard and grab a coconut! After my breakfast I just walked around the city alone and discovered new markets including the fresh-fish one.
The walk was so simply but I really wanted to do that. Just watching people, their customs…
On Tuesday, the 5 of usrent a car and drove all over the island. There were still some places I hadn’t seen, like the stunning beaches of Halafuoleva. The plan was to spend the night in the south. We met a guy that had a huge house just by the ocean, and offered us to stay for a cheap price. The funny thing was that we were his first costumers ever.
After an adventurous day we arrived there in time for sunset. We played cards as well and invited the guy to play with us. I fall asleep hearing the waves like if they were just next to me. It was an incredible sensation..
Next morning I woke up the first one (again! Haha) , and after a coffee I went to the beach to swam. We had to return the car at 11 so when they woke up, after chilling a bit, Kevin and I hit the road to downtown. Bank and Nadja would spent few more days there, so we would not see them again!
On our way, we stopped at the market and buy some fruit for lunch.
I wrote Debra. She and Mili were supposed to go for a walk (like they do every Wednesday) just before sunset. So I joined them.
After one hour walking and talking (a lot) we went to have some dinner. We ate “Ota-ika” Oh my god! That was incredible! O ta-ika is like a ceviche but instead of being marinated with lemon , they do it with coconut milk. We deserve that after that walk!! J Getting back to the hostel I met Pierre and Maeva, that just arrived from Vava’u. We had a great time that night with the new gests as well.
That would be my last night. It just passed so fast! I really did not want to leave…
Last day in Tonga
I spent that day mostly with Maëva and Judy. We walked towards downtown and stayed there almost 3 hours. Back to the hostel we met with the other ones and kept talking. Then, Stewart came and drove me to the airport. While I was waiting for the plane, I realized that Tonga is literally an unknown paradise.. It is not touristic at all. Anyone of my friends and family (including me or Max) ever heard about it before.
The time I spent there I will not forget it for sure!