Greetings from the Kingdom of Tonga!
After a pretty much sleepless night due to barking dogs and screaming roosters, we've enjoyed our first Tongan sunrise at the Fua'amotu airport sipping coffee produced from locally roasted beans. Real strong espresso - what a heaven!
Talking about heaven, our flight to Ha'apai was full despite the season being low for tourists, since a lot of local people from the capital Nuku'Alofa were flying back to Ha'apai to say farewell to their relative, dressed in traditional mourning clothes (Tongans dress in black and wear a ta'ovala - a mat wrapped around the waist and tied with rope, some of which almost reach the neck and face). Btw, funerals in Tonga have enormous cultural significance and in contrast to taboos regarding death and dying in western society, death is met with matter-of-fact acceptance and a highly ritualised grieving process. Traditionally dressed relatives were greeting each other in the airport with a huge smile on their face and the man in the picture, who I had a brief chat with, was calmly explaining to me that it is not a sad festival and moved on to asking where and how big my country was (3.5 mln people somewhere above Poland sounded like an awful lot to him :))
And now in just a few minutes we are off to the sky ourselves with an old as the earth DC3 plane. Can't wait to see at least some of the 176 Tongan islands from the above!