Tongatapu, Tonga

The Last Polynesian Monarchy

Effeminate man and child work a field inside the main island of Tonga
Students at Recreation
Students at a high school take macramé classes outdoors.
Bereaved family pays a visit to the grave of a loved one in a Nuku'alofa cemetery.
Mini bus with believers
A mini-bus charter for a ceremony awaits missing passengers.
Tropical Clothesline
Clothes rack in front of a beach on the outskirts of Nuku' alofa.
friends and students
Students at a school in Nuku' alofa pose for the picture while waiting for a bus.
coastline of Fa
One of the many deserted tropical beaches in the Tonga archipelago
fortified Chinese shop
Young Tongan shopper shop at a hyper-protected Chinese grocery store in Nuku' alofa.
Nuku' alofa colored transit
The only apparently chaotic traffic in the Tongan capital.
insular relaxation
Tongans observe the small island of Fa, off Tongatapu.
In Gardening
Resident of Nuku' alofa holds vegetation in front of his house.
Low Tide Fishing
Inhabitants of Tongatapu catch fish and shellfish in the smooth sea off the island.
On the heights
Teams compete for a line-up during a regional ragueby competition.
Pacific vs Tongatapu
Waves from the Pacific Ocean crash against the volcanic shores of Tongatapu.
group weaving
Colleagues talk during recess at a school in Nuku' alofa, the capital of Tonga.
From New Zealand to Easter Island and Hawaii, no other monarchy has resisted the arrival of European discoverers and modernity. For Tonga, for several decades, the challenge was to resist the monarchy.

The arrival at Fua'amotu airport allows us to foresee a final destinationquirky, to say the least.

The building's scenic balcony is packed with weeping families waving and shouting at their returnees. The men who descend with weight and pomp the stairs of the plane wear tupenus traditional ones – long twill skirts – that go with colorful shirts or t-shirts, invariably XL, XXL or XXXL. Adult Tongan weighing less than 90 kilos is rare.

Women, these, manage, in a creative way, the combination kofu-tupenu. Sometimes they use innovative colors and cuts that respect tradition.

The concentrated happiness typical of timed returns can be seen in those present.

Inside the building, the tourism stand appears to have been abandoned for decades. We didn't find any bands playing welcome tunes or occasional hosts offering fragrant flower necklaces or the Polynesian national greeting. malo and read.

In other third world countries, tourists have to put up with veritable sieges and near abductions by taxi drivers, taxi commissioners. guesthouses etc etc. Upon arrival in Tonga, they are literally ignored for being no more than outsiders, characters on the sidelines of the current of emotions generated by the reunions.

After Education, the Tonga Diaspora to the world

Tongatapu – the sacred island of the south – is home to around 71.000 inhabitants. They are 70% of the total population of the Tonga archipelago. Here, as on the other islands, it is rare for a family that has not sacrificed itself to the diaspora. This is one of the prices Tonga continues to pay for its sovereignty and consequent ethnic and cultural preservation.

As many as residents of the archipelago, the emigrants dispersed to the suburbs of the Australia, New Zealand and United States. There they form heavy and longing colonies.

The Diminishing and Sui Generis Capital of Nuku'alofa

Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, quickly disappoints anyone looking for yet another tropical paradise.

Uncharacteristic in urban and architectural terms – despite some notorious buildings, such as the Royal Palace – the city sprawls between the vastness of the South Pacific and the mangroves of the Fanga' Uta lagoon.

Nuku' alofa, capital of Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

The only apparently chaotic traffic in the Tongan capital.

Somewhat dusty and worn, Nuku'alofa (Residence of Love) in Tongan – it has genuine people and its main calling card.

Among the numbers that classify Tonga, 98% of the national literacy rate stand out. Tonga's educational action rests on a solid religious foundation. It is very evident in the number of uniforms with unmistakable cuts and colors that distinguish the training entities, almost all of them traditionalists.

In school yards, at bus stops, at roadside shops, wherever you happen to be, the spontaneous groupings of costumes repeat themselves and leap into view. They are considered in such a way that their production is, for girls, an obligatory academic practice. Like almost everything else in Tonga, communal.

Weaving Class, Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

Colleagues talk during recess at a school in Nuku' alofa, the capital of Tonga.

The importance of learning goes back a long way. The Kingdom was never ruled by a western country.

And yet, when the first missionaries arrived, in the XNUMXth century, mistrust gave way to a venerable respect that shaped the current culture and imposed Christianity in different expressions.

The majority of Tongans (about 38%) are Wesleyan Methodists.

Among the various other religions adopted by the population, Mormon, Catholicism and the Free Church of Tonga stand out.

Faithful, Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy

A mini-bus charter for a ceremony awaits missing passengers.

In the evenings and on weekends, Tongans meet in their churches.

They participate in long and intense musical and ceremonial rehearsals that deepen the bonds between believers and an unconditional faith in divine grace.

The Royal Misrule of Tonga

Any attentive and interested visitor quickly realizes that, despite the historic reverence for the monarchy above them, the Tongans have been able to trust no one else.

By scooter or by car, you can get around Tongatapu in less than two hours, despite the fact that local rent-a-cars deliver vehicles with almost empty tanks and the maximum speed allowed is 40 km/h.

Between dense coconut groves and cultivated fields, the side of the roads reveals quiet villages that group small housing farms, vegetable gardens and gardens patrolled by dogs and cats, chickens and pigs that contribute to the often problematic self-subsistence of households.

Family Farming, Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

Effeminate man and child work a field inside the main island of Tonga

The national economy has a vast non-monetary component. It depends on the remittances of dollars guaranteed by the emigrants.

The monetary sector – starting with telecommunications and satellites, both vital for a country spread across the ocean – is in the hands of the royal family and other nobles.

And while the Tonga kings once ruled the surrounding Pacific and became famous for their ambition and courage, more recently, Tāufaʻāhau and his government (but not only) have done little more than tarnish the monarchy's image.

The Royal Disaster of the Monarchy of Tonga

They stunned their Australian and New Zealand neighbors first – then the entire Pacific – with a series of immature investments and schemes that compromised future foreign aid to the country.

Among the controversial measures – all taken with the aim of obtaining an easy return – were the plans to turn Tonga into a nuclear dump; to sell Tongan passports (and their nationality) to foreigners, some with serious problems with the justices of other countries…

Clothesline in Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy

Clothes rack in front of a beach on the outskirts of Nuku' alofa.

…allow the registration of vessels under the Tonga flag, many of which would turn out to be involved in illegal operations including the supply of al Qaeda;

… the one-year shipping of a Boeing 757 later left inoperative at Auckland airport, which would later cause the bankruptcy of Royal Tongan Airlines;

the claim of a geo-orbital satellite slot for Princess exclusive profit; the construction of an airport hotel and casino with a wanted criminal by Interpol; the approval of a cigarette factory for export to the China, despite the disapproval of medical authorities and against decades of public health promotion.

To close this prodigious list, it is also necessary to point out the almost blind trust in several “miraculous” speculators who promised worlds and funds, with emphasis on Jesse Bogdanov, who publicly proclaimed himself the jester of Tonga and was responsible for part of the 26 million US dollars meanwhile lost by the monarch of Tonga.

These erroneous procedures and several others involving freedom of the press and expression reinforced the action of the pro-democracy movement in Tonga and the nation's contestation. Frustration only increased when Siaosi Tupou V came to power and immediately postponed fulfilling promises of political openness made by his father.

This postponement would, moreover, have serious consequences.

The Tongan Livelihood Law

During an evening stroll through the famous Mapu'a Vaca blowholes – holes in the rocks that project huge jets of water when hit by waves – and along the Piha Passage, we once again unravel the dependence on nature in which most Tongans live.

As the tide ebbs, a platoon of natives armed with knives and machetes combs the reef. They collect all the fish and molluscs that have been trapped by the retreat of the water.

Next door, fishermen return from their work in artisanal boats where they risk their lives to ensure food for their families.

Reef Fishing, Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

Inhabitants of Tongatapu catch fish and shellfish in the smooth sea off the island.

With few exceptions, the concentration of Tonga's national wealth in the royal family and the aggravation of social imbalance have deprived the humblest Tongans of any possibility of entrepreneurship. Even the most insignificant deals arise in the hands of foreigners.

Distributed by Tongatapu like small colorful prisons, the grocery stores are all Chinese. They succeed each other on the side of the roads, sometimes separated by a few tens of meters.

The only owner who gives in to explain to us the reason for being of the bars, does so in a fearful way.

At one point he regrets it: “the Tongans don't want us here, they hate us and we don't want anything to do with them either …” … in 2006 they robbed all our stores … they took everything …”

Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

Young Tongan shopper shopping in a hyper-protected Chinese grocery store in Nuku' alofa.

We had to find Bob, an elderly Dutch expatriate, to understand an act that seemed to go against the apparent inexhaustible patience of the locals. “This was due to yet another of the tricks of royalty” explains Bob.

“After allowing the Chinese to enter under the passports sale, the king did not resist the bribes and allowed the entry of containers from the China by symbolic values. Furthermore, the promise of openness to democracy was once again postponed ad eternum … The people here respect the monarchy. Unfortunately, the monarchy has not respected them back! …“

Tongans give heart and soul to their faith and passions. They are ways of forgetting the betrayals of which they are victims. And to spiritually enrich their lives. In some cases, not only.

Alternative Solutions for Tonga: Rugby and Tourism

Rugby was introduced to the island by British settlers, missionaries and merchants. The brilliance of sport in the neighbors Australia e New Zealand, quickly infected the islands closest to the Pacific. Tonga was no exception.

Like society itself, local rugby was organized around small villages.

In Tongatapu, from five in the afternoon, the boys and younger men flock to the picturesque and poorly maintained fields of their villages.

They are irregular. They don't have any markings. The grass sometimes reaches the practitioners' knees. These, despite being aware of the best conditions in the West, do not complain.

They take care of mowing the lawns and other ancillary tasks themselves.

Raguebi in Tongatapu, Tonga, Last Monarchy of Polynesia

Teams compete for a line-up during a regional ragueby competition.

Spurred on by such dedication, Tonga continues to have one of the fiercest and most respected rugby teams in the world.

However, behind the delivery, there are dreams of international success, already made reality by powerful and renowned players who proved to be exponents of the All Black Jonah lomu and the wallabie Toutai Kefu.

Tourism, on the other hand, is the eternal postponed solution to all the kingdom's ills.

In terms of potential, the biggest probabilities come from the Vava'u side, a group of northern islanders with the right characteristics to attract investors, host resorts, attract sun and beach tourists on charter flights and make an immediate income.

Tongatapu seems to have reserved the role of logistical and cultural outpost. Even that remains to be prepared.

While political and economic conditions remain to be met, the capital Nuku' alofa is rehearsing its role with some idyllic small islands offshore: Pangaimotu, Fa and Atafa and on each of the rare occasions when international cruises dock at the port.

View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy

Tongans observe the small island of Fa, off Tongatapu.

Until then, if the royals don't adhere to new tricks, the Talamahu market will remain the capital's biggest commercial expression.

Tonga's main sources of income will continue to come from remittances from emigrants, the export of coconuts, vanilla, bananas and coffee and food roots such as cassava, taro and cassava.

For all intents and purposes, the Tongans have already lost patience once.

They eagerly await the often forgotten parliamentary representation, aware that, once achieved, democracy and progress will hardly escape them.

Tonga, Western Samoa, Polynesia

XXL Pacific

For centuries, the natives of the Polynesian islands subsisted on land and sea. Until the intrusion of colonial powers and the subsequent introduction of fatty pieces of meat, fast food and sugary drinks have spawned a plague of diabetes and obesity. Today, while much of Tonga's national GDP, Western Samoa and neighbors is wasted on these “western poisons”, fishermen barely manage to sell their fish.
Maui, Hawaii

Maui: The Divine Hawaii That Succumbed to Fire

Maui is a former chief and hero of Hawaiian religious and traditional imagery. In the mythology of this archipelago, the demigod lassos the sun, raises the sky and performs a series of other feats on behalf of humans. Its namesake island, which the natives believe they created in the North Pacific, is itself prodigious.
Tongariro, New Zealand

The Volcanoes of All Discords

In the late XNUMXth century, an indigenous chief ceded the PN Tongariro volcanoes to the British crown. Today, a significant part of the Maori people claim their mountains of fire from European settlers.
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia - High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
Upolu, Samoa  

The Broken Heart of Polynesia

The imagery of the paradisiacal South Pacific is unquestionable in Samoa, but its tropical beauty does not pay the bills for either the nation or the inhabitants. Anyone who visits this archipelago finds a people divided between subjecting themselves to tradition and the financial stagnation or uprooting themselves in countries with broader horizons.
Viti levu, Fiji

The Unlikely Sharing of Viti Levu Island

In the heart of the South Pacific, a large community of Indian descendants recruited by former British settlers and the Melanesian indigenous population have long divided the chief island of Fiji.
Rapa Nui - Easter Island, Chile

Under the Moais Watchful Eye

Rapa Nui was discovered by Europeans on Easter Day 1722. But if the Christian name Easter Island makes sense, the civilization that colonized it by observant moais remains shrouded in mystery.
Waikiki, OahuHawaii

The Japanese Invasion of Hawaii

Decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor and from the capitulation in World War II, the Japanese returned to Hawaii armed with millions of dollars. Waikiki, his favorite target, insists on surrendering.

In Search of the Lost Time

For 121 years, it was the last nation on Earth to change the day. But Samoa realized that his finances were behind him and, in late 2012, he decided to move back west on the LID - International Date Line.
Easter Island, Chile

The Take-off and Fall of the Bird-Man Cult

Until the XNUMXth century, the natives of Easter Island they carved and worshiped great stone gods. All of a sudden, they started to drop their moai. The veneration of tanatu manu, a half-human, half-sacred leader, decreed after a dramatic competition for an egg.
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Amboseli National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Normatior Hill
Amboseli National Park, Kenya

A Gift from the Kilimanjaro

The first European to venture into these Masai haunts was stunned by what he found. And even today, large herds of elephants and other herbivores roam the pastures irrigated by the snow of Africa's biggest mountain.
Annapurna Circuit, Manang to Yak-kharka
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna 10th Circuit: Manang to Yak Kharka, Nepal

On the way to the Annapurnas Even Higher Lands

After an acclimatization break in the near-urban civilization of Manang (3519 m), we made progress again in the ascent to the zenith of Thorong La (5416 m). On that day, we reached the hamlet of Yak Kharka, at 4018 m, a good starting point for the camps at the base of the great canyon.
coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Architecture & Design
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

When shipowners from Reykjavik bought the Seydisfjordur fishing fleet, the village had to adapt. Today, it captures Dieter Roth's art disciples and other bohemian and creative souls.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
MassKara Festival, Bacolod City, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Bacolod, Philippines

A Festival to Laugh at Tragedy

Around 1980, the value of sugar, an important source of wealth on the Philippine island of Negros, plummeted and the ferry “Don Juan” that served it sank and took the lives of more than 176 passengers, most of them from Negrès. The local community decided to react to the depression generated by these dramas. That's how MassKara arose, a party committed to recovering the smiles of the population.
napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s – Old-Fashioned Car Tour

In a city rebuilt in Art Deco and with an atmosphere of the "crazy years" and beyond, the adequate means of transportation are the elegant classic automobiles of that era. In Napier, they are everywhere.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Efate, Vanuatu, transshipment to "Congoola/Lady of the Seas"
Efate, Vanuatu

The Island that Survived “Survivor”

Much of Vanuatu lives in a blessed post-savage state. Maybe for this, reality shows in which aspirants compete Robinson Crusoes they settled one after the other on their most accessible and notorious island. Already somewhat stunned by the phenomenon of conventional tourism, Efate also had to resist them.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
extraterrestrial mural, Wycliffe Wells, Australia
Wycliffe Wells, Australia

Wycliffe Wells' Unsecret Files

Locals, UFO experts and visitors have been witnessing sightings around Wycliffe Wells for decades. Here, Roswell has never been an example and every new phenomenon is communicated to the world.
Male Maldives

The Maldives For Real

Seen from the air, Malé, the capital of the Maldives, looks little more than a sample of a crammed island. Those who visit it will not find lying coconut trees, dream beaches, spas or infinite pools. Be dazzled by the genuine Maldivian everyday life that tourist brochures omit.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Magome to Tsumago, Nakasendo, Path medieval Japan
Magome-Tsumago, Japan

Magome to Tsumago: The Overcrowded Path to the Medieval Japan

In 1603, the Tokugawa shogun dictated the renovation of an ancient road system. Today, the most famous stretch of the road that linked Edo to Kyoto is covered by a mob eager to escape.
Streymoy island, Faroe Islands, Tjornuvik, Giant and Witch
streymoy, Faroe Islands

Up Streymoy, drawn to the Island of Currents

We leave the capital Torshavn heading north. We crossed from Vestmanna to the east coast of Streymoy. Until we reach the northern end of Tjornuvík, we are dazzled again and again by the verdant eccentricity of the largest Faroese island.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Kukenam reward
Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

At the top of Mount Roraima, there are extraterrestrial scenarios that have resisted millions of years of erosion. Conan Doyle created, in "The Lost World", a fiction inspired by the place but never got to step on it.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

Six days after leaving Besisahar we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). Located at the foot of the Annapurna III and Gangapurna Mountains, Manang is the civilization that pampers and prepares hikers for the ever-dreaded crossing of Thorong La Gorge (5416 m).
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Kogi, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia
Natural Parks
PN Tayrona, Colombia

Who Protects the Guardians of the World?

The natives of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta believe that their mission is to save the Cosmos from the “Younger Brothers”, which are us. But the real question seems to be, "Who protects them?"
Museum of Petroleum, Stavanger, Norway
UNESCO World Heritage
Stavanger, Norway

The Motor City of Norway

The abundance of offshore oil and natural gas and the headquarters of the companies in charge of exploiting them have promoted Stavanger from the Norwegian energy capital preserve. Even so, this city didn't conform. With a prolific historical legacy, at the gates of a majestic fjord, cosmopolitan Stavanger has long propelled the Land of the Midnight Sun.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
conversation at sunset
Boracay, Philippines

The Philippine Beach of All Dreams

It was revealed by Western backpackers and the film crew of “Thus Heroes are Born”. Hundreds of resorts and thousands of eastern vacationers followed, whiter than the chalky sand.
orthodox procession
Suzdal, Russia

Centuries of Devotion to a Devoted Monk

Euthymius was a fourteenth-century Russian ascetic who gave himself body and soul to God. His faith inspired Suzdal's religiosity. The city's believers worship him as the saint he has become.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Parade and Pomp
Saint Petersburg, Russia

When the Russian Navy Stations in Saint Petersburg

Russia dedicates the last Sunday of July to its naval forces. On that day, a crowd visits large boats moored on the Neva River as alcohol-drenched sailors seize the city.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, streymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Sheep and hikers in Mykines, Faroe Islands
Mykines, Faroe Islands

In the Faeroes FarWest

Mykines establishes the western threshold of the Faroe archipelago. It housed 179 people but the harshness of the retreat got the better of it. Today, only nine souls survive there. When we visit it, we find the island given over to its thousand sheep and the restless colonies of puffins.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.