One morning last week we woke to a knocking sound on our hull. Two kiddos from the village on Nuapapu were out peddling bananas and coconuts from their outrigger canoe. Dominic was thrilled as our fruit supplies were depleted; I don’t eat bananas, but I enjoyed the opportunity for an early morning photo shoot, as did they—these two were much more adept at posing for pictures than they were at bartering. Dominic asked how much the bananas cost, one kiddo said $10, the other said $2, and we settled on $4 for half their bushel (the exchange rate is roughly 50 cents Tongan to the US dollar; a steal for organic bananas of ample size!).
These are some of the few Tongans we’ve had close contact with. The villages are set off the water and out of site from the yachties. Most businesses in town are owned by pelangi (foreigners, generally a mix of Chinese, Kiwis, Brits, and US-ers); we hung out with Pesa, the whale guide, and when we walk through villages children sometimes get excited and follow us and adults wave hello, but that’s about it. It’s similar to our experience in French Polynesia, but a huge contrast to Samoa where the locals seemed invested in our good times. Although, to be fair, in Samoa we were staying in the heart of town, while here we are in and out of Neiafu as quickly as possible to explore more remote anchorages.