Tonga Visit

posted Jul 15, 2014, 11:12 PM by Family Organics
Tonga 009
We recently visited Tonga for a couple of weeks. There were certainly many contrasts; beautiful, white sand beaches and the clearest of clear water, but in many places 'decorated' with plastic bags, cans and disposable nappies; humble abodes next door to huge, multistory houses; immaculately groomed Royal Palace and surrounds alongside an intensely littered main road.. But everywhere we went a smile and a friendly greeting, not our "Hi" but "Bye", which actually makes sense given that one is generally walking past the greeter and away.
We enjoyed cooking and eating fruit, vegetables and fish from the local markets. I was especially pleased to sample breadfruit, a hangover from childhood reading of Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson. It made very good chips while still firm and, once soft, was like banana custard. Coconuts were plentiful and cheap. We were rather shocked when our daughter drank the coconut milk then threw the coconut away! We ate some of the coconut meat but, in reality, it would be impossible to keep up with eating the meat from all the coconuts one drinks. That's where the resident pigs come in. 
Most of the tourist places have no signposts so its a matter of driving around and following many false leads. The interesting thing about that was that we got to see many garden plots which I really enjoyed. I didn't get to understand the land tenure arrangements but I gather that every male is allocated a plot of land and most of these are actively worked. Most have widely spaced coconut palms with the staple root crops,(taro, cassava or manioc, kumala,and  yam), interplanted. There were also greens I couldn't identify and the aforementioned breadfruit. Many of the plots had a small camping area and some were guarded by some rather alarming dogs.
We didn't see many cattle and most of the ones we did see were tethered to trees. They looked sleek and well fed. They must be tethered from a young age because many looked as though, if they put their minds to it, could have at least broken their tether, if not, pull over the entire tree.
Who wants to lie on a beach when you can fossick about, seeing new and interesting things?