Two more sea days before we reach Tonga. The weather is still glorious,very hot and sunny. We continue to do well in the quizzes and in total have won 18 bottles of fizz! Not so useful for me as I have forsaken the demon drink for Lent! We also cross the international date line and go to bed on Tuesday 28th February and wake on Thursday 2nd March. No Wednesday 1st March for us.
We had one minor disaster. I flushed the toilet and it continued to fill with water. It was pouring from the toilet all over the floor. I called the Purser to get maintenance and Ian donned his superhero gear and used the bin to bail out the gushing water. Eventually the water stopped and shortly afterwards the plumber and cleaner arrived to sort it. Ian felt his efforts saved the ship following the fate of the Titanic! But I really don't think we needed our life jackets on!
We are docking at Nuku'alofa, the capital of Tonga. This small city is regarded as the heart of the Friendly Islands archipelago. There in total around 170 of these islands but only 36 inhabited. The islands are almost on the date line and Tonga claims to be the first place on earth to see the sunrise each new day.
We are going on a tour today to a beach resort. We jump on a bus that has definitely seen better days. It is rusty, with holes and windows that don't close! Luckily the weather is fine and hot. On the way we stop at "The Blow Holes".
The blow holes are low cliffs fronting onto the sea. Each wave hitting the cliff pushes into cracks in the rock that emerge at the top of the cliff. The result is periodic spouts of water followed by plumes of spray as the main wave of water passes. There are dozens along this small stretch of coast and it is impressive to see the spouts occurring in multiple places at varying times.
After this short stop we continue on to the beach. The sand is almost white, with a rolling blue sea. There are coconut trees dotted around and Ian takes cover under one of these. He is still feeling sore from the sunburn so is determined to stay covered. I paddle in the sea before lying in the sun. It is time to return to the bus and the ship we are taken via the Royal Tombs. The country is in mourning because the Queen Mother of Tonga died on Sunday. We can see the freshly dug grave. The guide is wearing black along with her grass skirt as a sign of respect and the walls,fences and hedges are festooned with black and purple bunting.
Our impressions of the island is that the people are very friendly, but is appears to be a poor country. Most houses have chickens and lots of dogs in the garden and quite a few have pigs and piglets running around. There are cows tied up in the coconut plantations and I see one lone sheep tied in a garden.