In Deutsch




Pictures of our Tonga trip
(Island of Tongatapu)

         Tonga Map                  Tongatapu Map         

                             Map of
                           the Pacific
latest picture taken: January 20, 2010
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 01  His Majesty, King George Tupou V,
at the commemoration ceremony
marking the end of World War I .....
 02  ..... Princess Pilolevu Tuita, the
King’s sister and King George Tupou V
under the marquee of the nobles
and invited guest of honors .....
03  ..... and Princess Pilolevu Tuita,
the charismatic sister of the unmarried
King, talking to a guest
With only a few empty seats left, the Boeing 767 of Air New Zealand is descending slowly and landing bumpily on 10am of November 2nd, 2009, at the tiny airport of Fua’amotu on Tongatapu, the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga. We are happy having finally run away from the uncomfortable freezing cold city of Auckland in New Zealand and being back in the warmth of the tropics. Also we escaped the hustle and bustle of the big city where we stayed for eight days and are now back at the relaxed Pacific island way of life. Back on their island are also residents, women and men in wheel chairs. Tonga providing only basic medical treatment, the islanders always have to fly out to New Zealand if a major health problem arrives. Little did we know by then that at our departure, Liliana almost needed a wheelchair too! Entry and customs formalities are fast and easy, and the driver of the “Keleti International Resort” that we booked via internet is already waiting outside. Everything seems to be easygoing here, thus also the traffic. Branching off from the main road, he continues slowly with only 25mph through a flat countryside, dotted with palm trees towards the South coast. Underneath the stately palm trees, mainly taro, but also other vegetables are growing in the fertile soil. Already from the air we saw that agriculture plays a major role. “How is the speed limit being enforced”, we ask our driver. “Radar checks are frequent”, he warns us. “Police is hiding mainly behind palm trees” he chuckles. Now we remember: Somewhere we read that some government donated radar equipment to Tonga, and now, of course, they have to use it!
 04  The Royal flag: The three stars
symbolize the three island groups, the
three swords stay for the three royal
families. The dove is the symbol of
peace and the crown of the monarchy
 05  The fenced-in pretty white
wooden Royal Palace with its red
roofs is a reminder of the Victorian era.
It was prefabricated in New Zealand
and erected in 1867
06  The King has chosen an old
London taxi from the 50s as
his official state coach
Did we choose the right place to stay for several weeks? – we ask ourselves when we follow the hotel signs towards the sea. But at the sight of the open Pacific ocean with its offshore coral terraces, where the high waves crash spectacularly blowing high water fountains into the air, our faces brighten. Three small hidden bays with white sand also look promising. We have booked a studio with “kitchenette” that looks disappointing, being on the first floor of a building with no personal veranda and the ocean view being disturbed by banana plants. “May we have a look at the bungalows, we ask Pina, who is running the family owned business that has been reopened only in April 2009. We walk along with her to the last of the eight bungalows that bear the names of the eight children of the family. “Maima” is called the last one. “And?” – I ask Emil after inspecting it. He nods: Here he likes it too. The only disadvantage is: There is no cooking possibility. But Pina is helpful and agrees to put a two flame stove on the veranda. Pots, dishes and cutlery are also provided, despite that we have everything in our car. The offered free internet is the only thing that does not work, or at least only very, very sporadically. But it would not be Emil, if he wasn’t insisting. And really, after days of haggling with the provider company it is functioning, though very slowly. From our part, we make available our new router, acquired in Auckland, in order to allow other resort guests to take advantage of the wireless too. Unfortunately the wireless doesn’t reach the bungalows – it’s too far away.
 07  The coat of arms of the Kingdom
of Tonga decorates the door to the
Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa. The non-
existence of the otherwise worldwide
prevailing security measures is obvious in Tonga
 08  Four guards of honor
stand in front of the cenotaph
commemorating the victims
of world war I and II
09  Cenotaph (monument) for
the victims of world war I and II
Next day, it is time to release our LandCruiser from the port. At 9am Pina drives us to the agent of the “Greater Bali Hai” shipping company. Fine Tohi, the boss with whom we emailed already, is away, but Tui, one of his employees, is looking after us, though at the beginning a bit reluctant. He is not informed and we have to explain him our whole story again. Only when we tell him that the head of customs already approved a tax free entry of our LandCruiser for four months, things start to roll. He speaks to Mr. Peter Nash by phone and we are told to meet him in his office at the customs house right across the street. From the very moment we are greeted by Mr. Nash – a friendly “Palangi”, as white people are called here – we intuitively feel that luck is on our side. As previously agreed by email, he accepts our “Carnet de Passages” and immediately gives the necessary orders to complete customs procedures. Finally he asks us to return at 2pm. Now it is 11.30am. We take the local bus into the town center (costs only 50 cents) to have lunch at the popular „Friends Cafe“. “Chicken with coconut” sounds good. We both order the same. But what is finally served are three cold rolls stuffed with chicken meat. There is not a trace of coconut flavor. Well, at least we do not have to welcome our LandCruiser with an empty stomach.
 10  Cadets and the police corps are
lined up for the commemoration ceremony
marking the end of World War I
 11  A group of men with their traditional
„Ta’ovala” - the mat wrapped around the
waist and tied with a rope – is attending
the commemoration ceremony
12  The beautiful, huge tree at the
town common gives a stunning
background to the
commemoration ceremony
One our later, after having paid the bills of the agent, harbor and the customs (totally US$350), we are already standing in a steady drizzle in the port in front of our container. Excited as always we wait for the door to be opened, and happy as always we are relieved to find our loyal travel companion unharmed in front of us. It has well survived its 17th container journey from Tahiti. Tui from the agency hands us over the papers necessary to exit the port and we are left alone. “Was this all?” „Let’s see“, argues Emil. „We have not left the port yet “. But this really was it: No customs officer appears, and at the port gate we are waved through without even looking at our papers. If that was not a record time! The “Friendly Islands”, as Captain James Cook called this island group because of the friendliness of the people, seem to deserve its name – we thought! In less than five hours, our LandCruiser is already driving on Tonga’s roads.
 13  Women as well as men are wearing
the traditional mat wrapped around the
waist made from pandanus leaves,
called “ta’ovala“
 14  A young mother with her
festively dressed girl is leaving
the commemoration square
15  Sunday is strict sabbath – enshrined
so in the constitution for ever. There are
no planes landing or leaving, no ships
calling and the streets of the usually lively
capital Nuku’alofa are deserted
Compared with previous Pacific islands, Tonga shows us a completely different appearance. It is entirely flat and rather dry, though palm trees are abundant all over the island. But the diversity of tropical plants is missing and also the birds seem to prefer the more tropical shores – we can spot only a few. We miss their omnipresent happy songs waking us up every morning. There is a lot of agriculture, what affects also the prices at the colorful Talamahu Market in Nuku’alofa, the capital. Currently, salad, tomatoes, chili and green peppers, cucumbers, water melons and pineapples are in season. For around US$1.50 we get 12 fleshy tomatoes and nearly as many cucumbers. All are neatly piled up in pyramids. It looks that vegetable will be on our menu for the weeks to come.
 16  The “Centennial Church” a
massive stone building in the heart
of Nuku’alofa. Built in 1983,
it looks much older
 17  The Royal Tombs are inaccessible
for the public. This has been the burial
place of Tongan Royalties since 1893
18  The office and residence of the
British High Commissioner is one of
the nostalgic remaining buildings in
Pacific colonial architecture
Tonga’s three island groups form the last Kingdom in the South Pacific. Currently King George Tupou V is reigning. Reflecting the modesty of the small islands is also the Kings Palace, protected by a high barbed wire fence: It is “just” a neat colonial building from the Victorian area with red roofs sitting in a park along the sea shore. It has been prefabricated in New Zealand and erected in 1867. Our first sight of it is on November 8th, our first Sunday in Tonga. We drove the 6miles into town well knowing that by constitution everything is closed on Sundays. Neither planes are allowed to take off or land, nor vessels and ferries are allowed to operate. No sport events and no entertainments are allowed either. Thus, the streets are more or less deserted, and where there is an accumulation of vehicles, surely there is one of the many churches where a holy mass is in progress. The Tongans are very religious as have been also the Samoans. Therefore we are surprised to see that on the square across the King’s Palace there is a lot of activity going on, the road being already closed for cars. We approach the scene by foot, and unintentionally we are becoming witnesses of the official commemoration marking the end of World War I that is held elsewhere every year on November 11th, at 11.11am. But Tonga prefers to have it at another date: It is always on the second Sunday in November at 12am! The police corps and the police band are already lined up and high rank officials are present, decorated with many medals. Obligingly, we are offered a seat under a marquee.
 19  A view we enjoy every day at
Keleti International Resort: Offshore
coral terraces that stop the big waves
of the open sea and a tiny bay with
a white sandy beach
 20  “Our” bungalow at the
Keleti International Resort among
coconut trees with sea view
21  Liliana is ready for lunch on
the veranda of our bungalow
at Keleti Beach Resort
Under the marquee of the nobles and invited guests of honors new people still keep coming. Then, for quite some time, nothing happens. Everybody is waiting for His Majesty, the King, and everybody is standing up, when his official black state coach – no, it is not a limousine, but a historic London taxi from the fifties – finally pulls in. We are really excited to have the opportunity to see the King so close. With his white topee and dressed completely in white he makes an amazing appearance. He is the first one to lay down a wreath at the monument to honor the victims of World War I, followed by some government officials, family members and ambassadors, so the ones from Australia, New Zealand and China, whose flags are also raised. Anthems and military music are played softly and short speeches of remembrance are held – it is an atmosphere of quiet reflection. After one hour, the King returns to his beloved London taxi and drives away, marking the end of the commemoration ceremony. We head through empty streets also towards “home”.
 22  Us posing for a picture at sunset
at the Keleti International Resort .....
 23  ..... Each evening, the sky turn
into a fascinating array of colors .....
24  ..... Pina, the manager of the
family run “Keleti International Resort”
(in green) and her cousin Latu (left)
Next day, something different keeps us busy. We are in the middle of town when one of our four old Michelin tires, which we bought in Thailand for US$100/each, finally blows up after 27’000 miles. Luckily it happens away from the crowd behind the ANZ Bank where on the leveled big parking lot we are able to change it. Close by there is a tire repairs shop where we can discard it and where they patch up also the tube. Suddenly, we are greeted joyously in our mother language by Olivia and Leonhard – she Tongan, he Swiss. Two days later we find ourselves for lunch in Fahefa on the Southwest coast, where the couple built a simple brick home out in the country side. The food is neatly laid out on banana leaves on the floor: Popular raw and cooked fish with coconut cream (even Emil who doesn’t like fish, finds the raw one tasty) and manioc, pineapple and water melon.
 25  Olivia and Leonhard – a Swiss
emigrated to Tonga – and Emil in front
of our LandCruiser in Fahefa at the
South coast of the island of Tongatapu
 26  We are guests at Olivia and
Leonhard’s home in Fahefa enjoying
a traditional Tongan meal
27  Olivia’s brother and his son
are cooking lunch on an open
fire fed with coconut husks
We are sitting cross-legged on a pandanus mat on the floor, as it is custom here. Emil is „suffering“quite a bit, because he feels really uncomfortable with this sitting mode and is happy when after lunch he can stretch his legs again. Through Leonhard we get a deeper insight into the Tongan culture, which – though not quite unknown to us – needs some adaptation. Thus, we are eating with Leonhard alone while Olivia is watching and her young cousin is chasing away the flies from the food with a cloth. Only after we have finished, the two ladies are serving themselves, but sit separately from us. This is a gesture of respect towards the guests. A cornerstone in Tonga’s culture is also sharing everything, especially also food. ”Actually, it is a communist system”, explains Leonhard. “It might also well happen that suddenly only two of the newly bought plates remain, or that they are found mixed with old ones from somewhere else, or that most of the good cutlery is gone”. However he honestly admits that it has taken him some time too to feel comfortable with this “shared” system. Interesting is also that a nice finish of a house is not important for the Tongans. Once the roof stands and one remains dry when it rains, work is stopped. There is no need of some paint or even a nice decor, because in this warm climate most of the time is spent outdoors anyway.
 28  Our LandCruiser poses in front
of a billboard with the King of Tonga
in the capital Nuku’alofa, what
means “the residence of love”
 29  The Royal Residence sits on a
green hill – the only one on the flat
main island of Tongatapu, also
called “the holy island Tonga”
30  St. Mary’s Cathedral on Vuna
Road is one of the outstanding
numerous churches in a country
where life is ruled by religion
Here in Fahefa we almost reached the most Northwesterly point. There was not too much to explore though. What we however like is the really peaceful island feeling when driving through narrow roads and omnipresent palm trees, crossing very rarely another vehicle. Now and then there is a village with no real center, but just an accumulation of homes along the road. At least, there is always one Mormon temple, but also many churches of other faiths. At the Northwesterly end of the island sits a small monument in honor of the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who put foot on land here on January 21st, 1643. This is one of the three attractions west of Nuku’alofa. Another one are the fruit eating flying foxes which are dangling from branches of casuarina trees near the cemetery of the village of Kolovai, but not to the hundreds, as still mentioned in some guidebooks. We had to search for them! Apparently they have left or have landed in the pot despite that they are regarded as sacred in Tonga and officially are allowed to be hunted by the Royal Family only. The main attractions West of the capital are the blowholes of Houma, also known as “chief arrows”. For many miles the high surf is pressing the water through small caverns and caves, producing splendid fountains. As we have the chance to experience this wonderful play of nature day by day at high tide at our Keleti Beach Resort, our enthusiasm for Tonga’s main attraction is somehow limited.
 31  The colonial corner house next
to the “Friends Café” on the main
street (Taufa’ahau Road) in Nuku’alofa
is one of the very few old buildings
that survived the uproar in 2006 …..
 32  ….. still four years later, the
city is an unattractive construction site
33  On many places good wishes
for the Coronation of his Majesty,
King George V in 2009 are still present
– here at a the gate to Vuna Wharf
Doing our own explorations, we take every small gravel road leading to a beach. Mostly, we land at upper class resorts that however leave an empty impression. There are five of them at the Northwest coast. Different and more peaceful from our Keleti Resort at the South Coast are the long white sandy beaches and the blue lagoon abundant in fish because protected by the reef. On the other hand, at our place the scenery is much more dramatic and we get never tired to watch at high tide the sensational breaking of the waves along the coral terraces, spilling high fountains into the air. We don’t mind that we need to sleep with ear plugs most of the time due to the enormous rumbling. But we really do mind that our LandCruiser is exposed to this high level of salty spray and haze day by day, and we are worried that soon it will look like most of the island vehicles: Rusty and scrappy. There is one more thing that we are not so relaxed about: There is no Tsunami warning system. “It will be transmitted by radio”, Pina tells us. What happens if it occurs at night? Then our destiny is sealed. Because we do not believe that our watchman is listening to the radio during the whole night!
 34  Watermelons are in season. The
display is generally huge at Nuku’alofa’s
Central Market (Talamahu-Market) …..
 35  ….. mother, grandmother
and child going shopping …..
36  ….. root vegetables such as cassava
and yam, belonging to the main diet
of the islanders, are in abundance
It is 11pm: We just turned off the lights and doze off again, after we asked our neighbors – fours New Zealand students – to be less noisy. Some when our bed is shaking. “Was this an earthquake?” Wide awake we sit upright the next second. It is 1.47am. After knowing that there is no Tsunami warning system and the deep Tonga trench is not far from here, we are alert. As there is no way to return to sleep anyway, Emil gets dressed up, grabs his laptop and walks to the main building, where thanks to our installed router we are able to get wireless connection also outside. He wants to check the Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii that covers the whole of the Pacific. What’s now? Shall I get up or remain in bed. I decide to remain in bed and wait for Emil’s news. As he does not come rushing back immediately, I calm down a bit. “There was on November 24th, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 about 120 miles east of here in the Tonga ditch, but the all-clear signal is already given”, he tells me some minutes later. All the same I remain nervous. Why do we actually play “Russian roulette” here? – I ask myself.
 37  The Central Market (Talamahu-
Market) in Nuku’alofa is a popular
place where men gather
for entertainment
 38  Women on their way to a funeral.
Funeral festivities can
last for several days
39  Girls perform a traditional dance
in front of their school. The preservation
of the value of the Kingdom’s traditions
already start at young age
“What, you intend to stay three months in Tonga!” This is an exclamation we hear again and again. “What are you doing that long here?” Yes, what are we doing that long on an island that has 150 km of road only? It is very simple “We enjoy life; we enjoy exploring; we enjoy the days under the Pacific sun, the relaxed way of life, the sandy bays with the variety of small shells, our own bungalow with a cooking facility and sea view, the dramatic sunsets – every dusk with another color chart – shopping at the lively market and roaming around at the many Chinese shops where you will find almost everything. Of course, we are also busy with answering emails (in November alone over 200 according to Emil’s statistic!) and updating of our website.
School children obviously enjoy their traditional flower ornaments and their singing marking the begin of the Christmas holidays
Nuku’alofa, the capital, is not an attractive city, at least not now. It may have been before the big riots in 2006, where a simple demonstration got out of control and 70% of the center was inflamed. Still today, three years later, there are gaps all over; rebuilding is in progress, in the Pacific pace though, but unfortunately not in the colonial style but with the nowadays stereotypical structures. Out of town, most of the Chinese shops are protected by iron gratings along the whole front and are serving the customers through a small window only. It seems that they don’t feel pretty safe. Most of the owners do not speak English, but we heard that they can communicate with the locals, as for them, the Tongan language seems do be an easy one to learn.
 43  Near Hufangalupe in the South
we enjoy a wonderful panorama
over the steep coral coast …..
 44  ….. it is also a lovely and
lonely place to relax …..
45  ….. and to watch the eternal
play of the waves
One afternoon – it is just half-time of our stay in Tonga – something happens that turns the rest of our stay in Tonga upside down. On December 14th, we are invited by a German couple, Hanne and Gisbert, for coffee with cake and beer and wine. They are living in a neat house close to the sea with a huge garden and take care of the eight neglected dogs of their neighbor and landlord. They stroll around in their garden and are regularly fed by them. A cold wind is blowing why we decide to have our little “coffee party” inside. It feels cozy, equipped in the style we are used to from back home. “Do you want to help me feed the dogs?” Hanne asks me later in the afternoon. “Yes, I just get a jumper out of my car”, I reply and walk towards the garden door. Without warning the two big dogs attack me, throw me on the ground and start biting into my legs – like lions! I scream and our hosts are able to chase them away. In the first moment, I do not feel great pain. But when I lift the bloodied trousers, we are shocked. There are two huge deep flesh wounds where the blood runs continually. “What are we doing now?” Hanne and Gisbert shout simultaneously. But Emil keeps cold blood. Like back on Christmas Day 2005 in Cambodia at the Mekong Ferry, where a driver rolled with the front wheel of his car over my leg, he grabs me, helps me into the car and races with me to the main hospital Vaiola, about a 15 minutes drive away.
 46  Watching the sunset over the
horizon near Hufangalupe
at the South coast
 47  The most famous spot for
blowhole watching is at Houma
(Mapu’a ’a Vaca), where at a
windy day and rough sea hundreds
of them shoot up in the air
48  The white sandy beach in
Oholei at the East coast
stretches miles to the North
“What happened?” everyone want to know when Emil pushes me on a wheel chair into the surgery room, addressed “Operating Theatre”, where a young guy is still lying on the operation table biting hard into the cross of his rosary while being treated. Five minutes later, I am lying there. „A small artery is cut“, my lady doctor explains. She cannot stitch now because the danger of infection from dog bites is big. Therefore she only makes a pressure dressing and gives me a Tetanus shot, because my vaccination just had expired. Exactly 24 hours later, after a bad night, I lie down again on the same table. The same doctor finds that the wounds are now clean enough to get stitched. I have to put my leg on a cardboard box containing rubber gloves that has been lying before on the floor. The “floodlight” above my head is turned on. If it is much, it might be about a 40 watt bulb. The lady doctor wears her normal plain-clothes, no mask, but at least rubber gloves. To cut an already long story short: It needs 12 stitches – by the way quite a painful procedure and I am glad that I can cling to Emil. We get a prescription for antibiotics that we have to buy in a pharmacy and I am told to put my leg upright for the next seven days. After paying US$35 for the treatment, Emil rolls me back to our car, and off we are to look for the prescribed antibiotics. The hospital itself either didn’t have any or there was nobody around to get them. Because it was Saturday evening, all the pharmacies had already closed; an emergency service doesn’t exist. However we had luck at one shop that was just about to shut down too. We received the tablets while being overcharged – but who cares in such a situation about the price tag?
 49  Outside of the cities deserted
roads lead through the flat countryside
dotted with palm trees;
here in the South the Liku Road
 50  One of the few remaining flying
foxes in the village of Kolovai in the
Northeastern corner. These vegetarians
are under the protection of the
Royal Family and cannot be hunted
51  Our preferred beach lies
at the northwestern corner.
It is often almost deserted
Back at our bungalow, we follow on the internet with concern the further development of cyclone “Mick”. It is now over Fiji and proceeding towards Tonga. And just when we need the updates the most, the internet breaks down. At dusk, strong winds start to blow and more and more coconuts and palm leaves are tumbling to the ground. Heavy rain follows. Shortly afterwards, the electricity is cut off. All around us it is pitch-dark. It is quite a frightening situation. “Now that you are not able to walk I do not even dare to think what would happen in the case of a Tsunami”, Emil worries. But unfortunately the situation calms down. Later in the night, “Mick” gets weaker between Fiji and Tonga and finally dissolves. When we inspect our LandCruiser next morning, which windows we protected all around with grills, we are happy to see that there was no damage because of falling coconuts. Everything is fine.
 52  The deceased are buried under
mounds of sand which are decorated
with artificial flowers. Often, they are
also covered with the blanket
of the deceased
 53  The burial sites of the Kings
and their families, called “Otu Langi”
were pyramid-like stone platforms;
here at the village of Mu’a
54  At Fua’amotu Point at the
Southernmost tip the sand mounds
of the graves are marked
with empty beer bottles
Nine days later I lie for the third time in the “Operating Theatre” of the hospital, as it is written on the door of the emergency surgery room. And for the third time we can hardly believe how dilapidated everything looks inside. The once white painted walls are yellow and peeling off, the green linoleum floor is stained and pieces are torn out in many places, and through the open cupboard door we see a disorderly mess of items. This desolate condition is unbelievable knowing that the King spent 2 Million US Dollars for his coronation just a few months ago. Today, I am treated by another nurse. “It does not look good”, she explains after removing the dressing. Blood and water emerges from the wounds what means that they are heavily infected! We are devastated. “What are we doing now”, a very worried Emil asks her. “I am removing the sutures and would like you to pass by every other day for a check”. When we leave the “Operating Theatre”, a small boy with a big cut in his hand is waiting outside.
 55  A clock tower of one of the
churches (here in Houma) that
is eye-catching in its
special structure
 56  Tonga’s main religious
congregation is the Mormons
(Latter-Day Saints). Also in the
smallest of villages sits one of their
temples. This beautiful structure
is the main temple in Liahona
57  The nostalgic church in the
old colonial charm in Lavengatonga
in the South of the East
coast of the Kingdom
Our mood on Christmas Eve in our bungalow is accordingly and rather depressing. This bad development really worries us. Two days later, Saturday after Christmas, I am limping once more into the “Operating Theatre”. This time a male nurse is on duty. When he removes my bandage, I hear Emil bursts out horrified: “Everything is filled with pus!” Once more the wounds are disinfected, but this time only covered rudimentary with a piece of gauze, and some small adhesive plaster strips to hold it. “The wounds need to get some air”, is the explanation of the male nurse. It just happens that at noon I finish my last antibiotic tablet as we haven’t been given enough and we ask for a new prescription. “Come again on Monday, then the doctor will decide” he tells us and there is nothing we can do to change his mind. We are dismissed. We are not at all happy and stop at every pharmacy, but all have closed again on this Boxing Day. By now, Emil is running amuck.
 58  The summer residence of the
Royal Family on the Southern
most tip looks modest
 59  Liliana is standing in front of
the Memorial Stone of Captain James
Cook, who landed here in 1777
60  One of the very few remaining
colonial style houses in the village
of Fua’amotu in the South
Carol, who is working for the American Peace Corps, coincidentally crosses our way at a supermarket. She promises to investigate where we could possibly get new antibiotics. We consider flying out on Monday either to Auckland or to Australia for a proper treatment. But Carol’s efforts are fruitful. Through Sally, a Swiss lady, we were able to locate a NGO doctor; who is waiting for us at the Village Mission Clinic. When Dr. Mike, a French New Caledonian, inspects my leg and hears the whole story, he just cannot believe the botch work of the hospital: “It looks not at all good”, is his diagnose. Firstly, the wounds should never have been stitched before they were completely clean and by no means skin together with muscle. Secondly, I got the wrong antibiotics, and thirdly, the rudimentary bandage and the refusal of a prescription for more antibiotics on my hospital visit were a very serious negligence. Everything that can go wrong went wrong, and without the professional treatment of Dr. Mike, I could have easily lost my leg! Now we can understand Hanne and Gisbert who decided to return to Germany because of the medical misery here in Tonga. We cannot blame them!
 61  On the Northeastern corner sits
the “Ha’amonga’a Maui”, the almost
17 ft. high trilithon, constructed out
of three large coral blocks, each weighing
around 20 tons (according to the
Monarchy” website). It is compared
with England’s “Stonehenge”
 62  A lovely beach along the
Northwest coast, where most
of the more expensive beach
resorts are situated
63  We are driving through the
narrow island road from Niutoua
to Haveluliku along the Easst coast,
enjoying the palm dotted scenery
And because misfortune seldom comes single, the police stops Emil the day after when he wants to buy my prescribed medicines at a pharmacy, which – by the way – none is available! “We are in trouble”, he exclaims anxiously with a serious face on his return. “The police stopped me and asked for the car’s Tongan registration. He was very rude and threatened to confiscate the LandCruiser if I do not register immediately at the Ministry of Transport”. We at once involve the Tourist Office that had given us green light to bring our car to Tonga for a temporary visit. Sandra, the officer in charge, is helpful and writes a letter of recommendation explaining our situation, which Emil has to submit personally to the Deputy CEO of the Ministry of Transport the coming day.
Moments of rapture directly in front of “our doorsteps” at the Keleti Beach Resort on the rough South coast
When he stays away for more than five hours, I am pretty sure that he is waiting for the permit to be issued. But when I see his expression on his return, I immediately know that there is no permit. “We are not anymore allowed to drive. Only the King and Diplomats can drive with foreign license plates”, was apparently the CEO’s answer. It’s strange enough that this was discovered only after 55 days! It is really absurd: Everything is allowed in Tonga: Driving uninsured and drunk, phoning while driving, a child can sit in the front or even on the lap of the driver, seatbelts are not compulsory, motorbikers can drive without a helmet – but it’s an offence to drive around with a Swiss license plate or any foreign registration! Yes, our feelings for the “Friendly Islands”, as Captain James Cook baptized Tonga, are slowly shifting!
 67  We are invited by Hanne and
Gisbert where it happens: Two dogs
of their landlord attack unprovoked and
surprisingly Liliana in their garden …..
 68  ….. Emil rushes Liliana to
the Vaiola Hospital, where she
is immediately treated in the
“Operational Theatre” of
the emergency tract …..
69  ….. ten days later a nurse
removes the stitches and we
realize that the leg is very
heavily and deeply infected
A few days later, still stuck without a car, we have to realize that the leg’s condition is worsening again, forcing Dr. Mike to do surgery. During one hour, he removes dead skin, dirt still from the dog bite and even six stitches left behind by the hospital. This happens exactly on the last day of 2009 leaving little mood to celebrate the looming New Year. During the next five days, Dr. Mike’s nurse Denise makes her daily visit to give me antibiotic shots and to change the dressing. Then, at the end of the third week, things seem to improve: I make my first steps, very slowly though. It is really at the last moment because Dr. Mike – the only doctor we could trust – quit his job and leaves Tonga ahead of time. The medicine shelves are empty, there is not even any gauze left – and no money to buy anything in New Zealand.
 70  Liliana cannot walk for more
than a month and has to be carried
by an improvised wheel chair from
the bungalow to the car …..
 71  ….. the lovely tropical
surroundings in its natural
environment at Keleti Beach
boost her mood …..
72  ….. it is hard work walking
with crutches and remembers
of Cambodia and Vietnam
Emil’s persistence and fight with the government regarding the imposed ban of driving in Tonga makes progress too. After eleven days, it is finally withdrawn – just by a phone call: The Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Police have agreed to allow us driving around. But just when everything seems back to normal, we are informed by the agency of the shipping line, that the “South Islander II” of the Greater Bali Hai – the line that was supposed to load our car on January 19th, had run on a reef near Majuro on the Marshall Islands. Result: The next freighter calls on Tonga only at the beginning of March. And we have already booked our budget flights out of Tonga for January 21st, and the hotels are prepaid too. Luckily encouraging news follow shortly afterwards that a careful inspection of the vessel has showed that it will be able to complete its current voyage. But due to stability reasons, it will only be allowed to discharge freight at the ports, not to load – our container excepted! Is our luck finally shifting again?
 73  A cute child waves us farewell
when we drive our LandCruiser to
the port on January 20th, 2010
 74  Tui, the agent of Dateline Shipping,
and Ernst (left) are present, when Emil
is driving our LandCruiser into its
18th container bound for Indonesia.
Ernst has supervised the loading of
our container after our departure and
checked that we got the B/L sent after
75  On January 21st, 2010,
Polynesian Blue carries us to
Australia and Air Asia X onwards
to Malaysia, where Liliana needs
urgently medical treatment of her
dog bite. It was an unromantic
departure from our 166th country
After weeks of immobility and isolation, I enjoy being able to explore the Northeast coast with its many gems of forested offshore islands and white sandy beaches, watching the people gathering shellfish off the coast and the pigs digging in the shallow waters. One of the major tourist attractions still lies ahead of us: The nearly five meters high “Ha’amonga’a Maui Trilithon”, constructed out of three large coral blocks, each weighing around 20 tons, arranged into a trilithic gate. It is said that the structure had a similar function in ancient Polynesia than the one to Britain’s Stonehenge. Two days later, on January 20th, our thoroughly washed LandCruiser is caged in its 18th container and sent to a long sea journey to the West. One day later, we fly out of Tonga to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, via Sydney and Gold Coast in Australia. By that time, my leg had worsened critically once more, thus we are more than happy to leave this island for better medical treatment elsewhere. There is no regret – rather relieve, when the Boeing 737-800 from Polynesian Blue gains height and flies above the clouds towards our new destination.