Stranded in Vava’u While I Slowly Lost My Mind


Storm in Vavavu Tonga

I feel awful.

As I write this, I’m in Vava’u, Tonga, and I feel exhausted and malnourished and stressed and irritable and depressed. I can’t stop grinding my teeth. Occasionally, I burst into hysterical peals of laughter until I feel as though I’m deteriorating into madness. All I want to do — no, all I need to do — is get off this goddamn island. But this is the South Pacific and it’s not as simple as that.

What on earth went wrong?

Quite.

What did go wrong?

In my last post, I’d found paradise. Ha’apai was everything I’d dreamed of when it came to South Pacific travel, and I’d fallen so hard for Matafonua Lodge that I’d almost cancelled the rest of my trip to stay there.

I should have stayed there.

Sea at Matafonua Lodge Tonga
Why did I leave?

My flight to Vava’u coincided with an enormous thunderstorm that, according to every weather report online, was due to last for days if not weeks. I hadn’t paid it much attention.

As anyone who’s spent time in the tropics knows, the wet season is never as wet as the forecast predicts. It’s typical for there to be rain every day, sure, but more often than not, it’s limited to a couple of hours in the afternoon. Given that my first ten days in Tonga had brought nothing but sunshine despite warnings of bad weather, I wasn’t concerned.

Vava’u, it would turn out, was the exception to my rule.

Still high from my incredible time in Ha’apai, I bounded off the plane with a grin plastered across my face, grabbing my backpack from the plane’s hold, and jumping into my minivan transfer. Sure, it was pouring with rain, but I was convinced it would pass soon.

“It’s Friday,” the owner told me as I clambered inside. “To celebrate we are going to have a big feast for all of our guests. Do you want to join?”

“Absolutely,” I grinned. Ha’apai had turned me into an extrovert and all I wanted to do was spend time around other people.

Vava'u in the rain

I trudged through the wet grass from the minivan to my room, wincing as the straps of my backpack rubbed against my sunburnt shoulders. I’d opted for the highest-rated hotel in Vava’u and it looked just as I’d hoped — minus the grey skies. There was an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a stack of kayaks and snorkels to rifle through, and a spacious deck outside my room.

“Our feast will be beside the ocean,” the owner told me. “At 7 o’clock?”

“Sounds good,” I replied, squinting at him through rain-soaked lashes.

I’d expected the storm to pass within half an hour, but it was pouring harder than ever when seven rolled around, and dinner was moved inside.

I feel guilty saying this, but the food was bad.

I’d had fantastic meals throughout Tonga so far, but these paled in comparison. I felt bad for even thinking it when the owners were being over-the-top kind to me, but I had to fight my way through these dishes. Still, there were some kickass people staying in the hotel and we spent the next couple of hours sipping on gin, watching the lightning, and chatting about where we’d been.

Wild pig in Tonga

The following morning, I awoke hungry.

Not wanting to opt for the owners’ cooking again meant that my options for food were limited to the local grocery stores. With this being the South Pacific, that meant living off of canned and processed items. I grabbed a few pieces in drenched hurry, then had a can of spaghetti for breakfast. Outside the rain poured defiantly.

Tell me how I’m living your dream life.

One of the main draws of Vava’u is its activities, from kayaking to a nearby island, snorkelling on the reef, taking an island-hopping trip, or simply lying beside the pool to relax. With the torrential downpour outside, though, none of these options were possible. It was fine by me — I’d had plenty of sunshine over the past few days and was happy for a day to work. I spent the equivalent of 50 USD on 1 GB of internet and most likely posted something mopey on Twitter.

By the evening, I was suffering from cabin fever. I was restless, irritable, and missing human connection. Everybody had checked out of the guesthouse that morning and the owners were rarely around, leaving me with the entire place to myself. I felt agitated and realised I was clenching my jaw. I was already out of internet. I grabbed my Kindle, settled down on the bed, and read until it was time to sleep.

Rain in Vavavu, Tonga

By the following morning, I was officially bored.

I paced up and down in my room and did star jumps before I realised I was breaking the law and promptly stopped.

It was Sunday, which is a Big Deal in the extremely Christian Tongan islands. On Sunday, it’s illegal for business transactions to take place or for people to exercise. No jogging, no running, no swimming, no kayaking, no snorkelling. I couldn’t walk to a store because all of the stores would be closed. The only place I could visit was the village church, but the regular rolls of thunder quickly put that idea to rest.

I sat down at my desk with a sigh. Deciding to make the most of my situation, I began to write. In a country like Tonga, where internet is rare and slow, I’d already found myself with a serious amount of downtime and had put together a blog post for each day I’d been on the islands. By now, my 11th day in the country, I was struggling to sit still, and my brain wasn’t functioning well. I missed talking to people. I was still the only person at the guesthouse. 

I grabbed my Kindle and tried to read again. I spent 12 straight hours reading in silence, until my brain felt mushy and weird. On my laptop, I had just one episode of Blue Planet 2 and I’d watched it four times already. I was more agitated than ever and prowled the length of my room, close to tears. I tried to sleep through the boredom but felt as though I’d overdosed on caffeine. My heart was racing and I had too much energy to lose consciousness.

Dinner was grim.

On my grocery run, I’d picked up cans of anything, and I was now left with one.

The worst one.

Ocean Queen’s A1 grade mackerel in tomato sauce.

Mackerel in a can.

This is what it looked like:

Girl with a can of mackerel

Mackerel from the can

I took a deep breath, raised my fork to my mouth, and began to crush a chunk of soft mackerel spine between my teeth. I grimaced. 

Living the motherfucking dream.

The following morning, the rain was pouring harder than ever before. I got drenched walking the 20 metres to the pool to test the temperature of the water, and then — fuck it — I got in fully clothed. The water was warm and I leaned back against the wall and burst into tears of manic laughter. I was so freaking bored. I hadn’t had a conversation in so long that I mumbled quietly to myself.

I should never have left Ha’apai. My friend Josh had messaged me the night before to tell me about the lobster meal he was sitting down to at Matafonua; I told him I was eating cold mackerel spines and on the verge of tears.

The rain gave me a headache from its pelting against my skull so I wandered inside to take a shower. The internet had been down for over 24 hours, and the power was dropping in and out. I grabbed a mug to make a cup of tea but it was stained brown and was covered in ants.

I was out of food and starving, but the guidebook in my room wrote of a larger grocery store I could go to to grab some more supplies. I covered my knees and shoulders and ventured out in search of anything that wasn’t mackerel. As I walked, dogs prowled the streets alongside me and tiny piglets circled my feet.

Convenience stores in Tonga look a little like this:

Chinese store in Tonga
The yellow and red cans are *all* corned beef

They’re primarily owned by Chinese residents of the islands and consist of a small concrete room with bars over a window, where you stand and peer inside before asking for whatever you need.

They were all closed.

I walked for half an hour in the rain and every store I passed had a wooden board over its bars. After I walked the entire length of the village I turned back around, not sure what to do. I really didn’t want to starve.

I trudged back and then, success! One of the stores had suddenly opened and there was a woman standing in front of it and ordering. She took a step back when she saw me and motioned for me to go first.

“Thanks!” I said. “Um, can I get…” I stared out at an entire row of Ocean Queen mackerel in different flavours and shuddered. “The can of spaghetti?”

She placed it in front of me.

“And also, um… those breakfast crackers?”

I scanned the shelves for something with nutritional value but there was nothing that appealed.

“And those crisps?” I pointed at the bright pink foil bag with Bongo written across them. “I’ll take two of those.”

I considered kickstarting my Youtube channel back into gear with a TONGAN FOOD HAUL! WATCH ME TRY WEIRD SNACKS! video, but reminded myself the room didn’t have power to charge my camera. Plus, none of the food was actually from Tonga. 

Back in my room, I meditated for a full hour before scoured the guest handbook for something — anything — that could pull me out of my funk.  I felt as though I was deteriorating into madness and I was desperate to reclaim my sanity. With a gasp, I pointed at my saving grace.

There was a resort next to mine — the Tongan Beach Resort — and it served food!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A quick google told me that it had decent reviews for its meals and, most importantly, served alcohol. I couldn’t wipe the grin from my face as I pictured the enormous burger I’d be devouring in just a few hours. I was so excited, I spent a solid 20 minutes just looking through the menu and deciding what I was craving most after days of canned food. I read pages of TripAdvisor reviews. I looked at photos of the meals. I decided I’d strike up conversations with as many strangers as possible in an attempt to slay my cabin fever. 

God, I was excited.

When 5 p.m. rolled around, I pulled on my best knee-covering skirt and set out in the thunderstorm to get me a burger.

Tongan Beach Resort

No, no, no, no, no, no, no,” I howled in anguish. “Are you kidding me right now?”

I couldn’t believe it was closed.

I felt like kneeling down in the mud and sobbing. All I had left in my room was a packet of breakfast crackers that tasted like cardboard and a can of spaghetti.

Living. The. Dream.

Crackers and spaghetti
When your food options are so poor, why not combine the options and make everything so much worse?

Using the data connection on my phone, I wrote Dave a desperate message, and then tapped resend 45 times over before it actually sent. I gave him my details and pleaded for him to change my Real Tonga and Air New Zealand flights to the following day. I’d be cutting short my time in Vava’u by three days, but judging by my experience thus far, I was hardly going to be missing out on anything.

When he confirmed the changes had gone through, I burst into happy tears.

No, seriously. I actually broke down and cried tears of joy.

As an introvert with social anxiety, I’ve always kind of thought the idea of solitary confinement sounded like the ultimate dream. Having now experienced four days of it, NOPE! 

It turns out I am human after all, and spending time inside with terrible food, no companions, no power, and no internet will slowly break me apart.

I had hoped for so much from Vava’u — other travellers have always given it an excellent write-up — but the lack of food options combined with the terrible weather and the scarcity of human contact had me running for the mountains.

New Zealand: here I come!

Storm in Vavavu Tonga

When the owner arrived to take me to the airport, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was going back to New Zealand! I was going to be reunited with Dave! I wouldn’t be bored anymore! A waterfall of words tumbled from my lips as I chatted with the owner and rejoiced in having company again.

When we arrived at the airport and a staff member shook her head at me, I was confused.

“Flight cancelled,” she announced.

“No. No. No. No. No,” I wailed like a child. “You don’t understand — I have to get on that flight.”

“Sorry, no flight today. All flights cancelled Bad weather.”

“Oh my god.”

I reached for my phone and saw my last message from Dave: See you sooooooooon! 

I winced. They cancelled my flight. 

What???

They fucking cancelled it.

No. Wait. What? You’re kidding. Why???

Bad weather. I don’t know what to do. I can’t stay here, man. Shit. 

“When’s the next flight?” I asked the woman.

“We don’t know. It depends on the weather.”

“So what do I do? I’ve got a connecting flight I need to get on. What happens now?”

“If you give us your phone number, we can phone you when we have an available flight.”

Cemetery in Tonga
R.I.P. me

I couldn’t believe I was back in my room. My crypt. My tomb. My final resting place. The room where dreams come to die. Where Laurens come to die. The room that drives all to insanity.

The internet still wasn’t working. I only had crackers to eat.

I couldn’t believe I was still here.

So.

This being the South Pacific, my options were limited.

There are only two airlines that fly out of Vava’u: Real Tonga and Fiji Airways.

Fiji Airways would get me from Vava’u to Nadi to Auckland to Christchurch for an enormous sum of money that I was definitely willing to pay. Unfortunately, they only ran flights once a week and the next one wasn’t for another four days.

Real Tonga flies from Vava’u to Tongatapu twice a day, but flights on their website were fully-booked for the next week and I wasn’t convinced they had a spare plane. With the weather as it currently was, I could see them cancelling flights for days on end, racking up hundreds of passengers on their waiting list, with not enough planes to get them where they needed to go.

There was also a ferry. It travels once a week and takes an incredible 24 hours to get to Tongatapu. Given the weather, my propensity for motion sickness, and the fact that it didn’t even leave for another two days, I quickly scrubbed it from my options.

No shit

No, it seemed the only thing to do now was to sit and wait. I could fly out of Vava’u the following day, or I could be stuck on the island for a week or more. It was an unusual situation to be in — to be well and truly stranded, with literally no way of getting off the island — and in a way, my fascination with it helped me feel more comfortable about staying.

Deep down, I was torn, because obviously I didn’t want the plane to fly in unsafe conditions, and I knew that getting to New Zealand alive was better than the alternative, but damn it, it was a frustrating situation to be in.

I let out a heavy sigh. I was going to have to fall in love with being bored.

I messaged Dave to ask him to reschedule my Air New Zealand flight to the following day, glared out at the rain, and wondered how to kill more time.

After 30 minutes of fruitless meditation, I grabbed my money, and traipsed back to the convenience store to buy a can of corned beef for lunch and dinner.

As I walked, I felt an aching in my chest. It was a longing to be on a flight back to New Zealand. A desire to eat vegetables. A craving for a life that involved being around people. A yearning for Dave.

School in Vavau Tonga
A map on a school’s wall. I loved how the South Pacific was pictured right at the centre of the map.

Twenty-four hours later, my phone rang. I leapt for it.

“Hello?”

“Hello! Can you be at the airport in one hour?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes, definitely. There’s a flight?”

“We have one space left.”

My heart soared.

“I’m on my way.”

I sprinted around the resort until I found the owner, and begged him to take me to the airport. I think he could sense the desperation in my voice, because he ran for his minivan while I lurched for my room to grab my backpack.

Finally.

Finally.

I was finally leaving Vava’u.

There would be no further mishaps.

Pigs crossing the road in Tonga

Famous. Last. Words.

As I skipped onto the plane, I happened to notice the bright red letters next to the door.

MA60.

My eyes widened.

No. It couldn’t be. Surely they wouldn’t… I thought they weren’t allowed to fly these anymore. 

The MA60 has the calming nickname of the Death Plane.

It’s one of the most dangerous planes to have ever taken to the sky and regularly crashes. When Real Tonga first added the MA60 to its fleet, New Zealand suspended $10 million of aid and issued a travel warning for the country. While Tonga withdrew the MA60 shortly afterwards, they’ve since snuck it back into their lineup, and now I was one of the fortunate few to ride it.

So now I was facing a dilemma: Do I take my chances on a risky airplane or back out and spend another night in Vava’u?

I shuddered and took my seat.

Previous Ha’apai: My South Pacific Island Paradise
Next April 2018: Travel Summary and Statistics

33 Comments

  1. April 24, 2018
    Reply

    This post was amazing! OMG that mackerel looks awful. Well, guess I’ll cross Tonga off my bucket list. Yikes!

    • April 24, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you! But no, no, no, don’t cross Tonga off your list! It’s an incredible country — I just had terrible luck in Vava’u. Read my previous post for a look at what a wonderful place it is :-)

      • susan hurle
        April 12, 2021
        Reply

        I had Christnas and New Year in Tonga in 1982/83 and there was no running water or electricity, we took the ferry to Vava’u and slept in a hut, there was an earthquake that disturbed all the rats and cockroaches. The highlight of the trip was shaking the Kings hand on new year’s day at the Palace in Nuku’alofa. We lived with a family there and had food cooked in an umu ( underground stone oven) most food was roit vegetables and goat, we had chicken one day that we had to catch. We also had some Cava to drink which is a root drink that is supposed to be a drug and looked like dish water. It rained a lot and the mosquitos ate me alive, it was very humid and was far from the paradise island I was expecting. I assumed it had progressed a great deal from when I was there but from your account perhaps not! Was interesting reading your account. Thank You

  2. April 24, 2018
    Reply

    Wow, intense! I’ve had a few stinkers in my day. The key is to embrace it as part of travel and simply recount for a terrible tale LOL. Great to see in comments; it’s never about writing off a country, just an experience in one spot. Love your attitude!

    Ryan

    • April 26, 2018
      Reply

      Exactly! Tonga is one of my favourite countries in the world, even with the terrible bad luck I had in Vava’u. I can’t wait to go back!

  3. April 24, 2018
    Reply

    This. This is why you’re a published author. Since I read your blog regularly, I knew you spent time eating canned mackerel and I was still captivated.

    And yeah, after spending $96 USD for lunch in Cancun, we are boiled eggs and bread for a couple of meals. The glamour of it all is just too much.

    • April 24, 2018
      Reply

      Ate. We are not boiled eggs and bread, hahahahaha!

  4. April 24, 2018
    Reply

    What a fantastic post! On the one hand I loved the ending, because it read like an exciting memoir. On the other hand it’s real life and I would have been terrified on that plane!

    • April 26, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you! It’s been fun focusing on storytelling while writing about Tonga :-) Oh, and that flight was easily the worst of my life. When the pilot jokes about kissing the ground every time he lands one of these planes, it doesn’t exactly put your mind at ease!

  5. April 27, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Lauren, thanks for sharing your Tonga trip experience. After reading your post, I think it’s a nice place to visit whether you had some bad experience there. Last thing I would say, your post will be very helpful who are making a plan to visit this place in near future.

  6. April 28, 2018
    Reply

    Another thoroughly engaging post! I felt my heart slightly drop for you as your flight got cancelled. I can’t imagine what your actual flight was like.

  7. guineveruca
    April 29, 2018
    Reply

    I always love your humor about the bad, maybe even more than your enthusiasm for the great. I’ve been stuck in a few places, but never like this! I still want to go to Tonga, though :)

  8. Stavvy
    April 29, 2018
    Reply

    I’m in tears reading this! I haven’t laughed so hard in days so thank you for sharing!
    I’ve been stranded in Koh Lanta fighting chikungunia or denge or some mosquito virus and I’m getting cabin fever so I can relate. Eat all the smashed avocado for me in New Zealand, actually eat everything for me……my diet consists of rehydration salts and a nut or two at this point *sigh*

  9. Geoff Joab
    April 29, 2018
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    Keep your chin up ,remember you could be commuting every day ,week year, doing a job that 99% of of people hate.Yours doing great and we all love to read about your adventures.Stay with it girl.

  10. Haha, at least you have a good story to tell afterwards! Another entertaining post, even if I did feel sorry for you! Weather can really make or break a trip sometimes, I come from an island so I know exactly how stranded you can be… but then at least we have a Tesco. It can be so frustrating, for the people who live there too. Glad you made it out alive after that cliffhanger!!

  11. June 3, 2018
    Reply

    Wow, what a fantastic post. Your personal stories are the best. I can well imagine how you must have felt, we had a not dissimilar experience on an island in Fiji a few months back. I’m now also stranded in Hong Kong, unable to leave my Airbnb because I can hardly walk due to an injury. Thank God I have the internet though. I’m not sure I would have stayed on that plane, but can see how desperate you were to get the hell out of there and back to civilisation.

    • June 4, 2018
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Hayley! Argh, you don’t really know just how crazy being stranded can make you until it happens.

  12. Never Again
    February 3, 2019
    Reply

    I lived on Vava’u for a year with my children and spouse. We are white Americans. What you described is really how it is. Even in good weather. You forgot to mention that Vava’u Tongans typically are not friendly to white people either.
    Vava’u has a cloud of depression hanging over the island. Even though it claims to be Christian, that is just on the surface. Living there was the hardest thing I had ever done. You do feel like you are starving and lonely. Just be glad you weren’t there for an entire year. LOL.

    • Mate ma'a Tonga
      June 7, 2021
      Reply

      Vava’u is literally the best place in all of Tonga. I lived there for 2 years and you couldn’t be more wrong about the people there. They are the most generous caring people in the whole world. As for the food it was the second best food in Tonga (next to ‘Eua). We had fresh fish, shellfish, and loads of pork. Also they are know for there pineapples. Vava’u pineapples are smaller but the sweetest I have ever tasted. Sounds like you and your family didn’t understand the Founga Fakatonga. Did you learn the language? Also for reference I am also a white American.

  13. February 6, 2019
    Reply

    Oh god, this made me LOL. I loved Tonga – spent one month in the Ha’apai and two months in Vava’u. But I can totally feel your pain. Our flight from Vava’u to Tongatapu also got canceled due to “weather” – it was glorious out, so who knows the real reason. We also stayed at Mystic Sands. The owner was wonderful, but yeah, there aren’t many food options (we did get to dine next door at Tongan Beach Resort). There aren’t many accommodations in town, but there are good restaurants available….if you can get there!

  14. Alison
    May 12, 2019
    Reply

    Hey,

    I’m planing on travelling for 5-6 months hopping from island to island in polynesia and was hopping mabye you have some important tips for me? Will be travelling April 2020-September 2020.

    BTW- your post is great & really helps me regarding planing my itinerary.

    Thanks!

  15. ZORNITSA
    May 30, 2019
    Reply

    Hey,

    We are planning a trip to Tonga, but maybe it is better to go to HAAPAI instead of VAVAU, even if the last is more famous for the swimming with whales, that we would like to try…
    Thanks!

    • May 30, 2019
      Reply

      Oh, I wouldn’t let this post put you off visiting Vava’u. My experience was totally situational and I’m sure that if I’d had sunshine and zero rain, and not visited during low season, I would have loved it :-) Of course I loved Ha’apai and would recommend visiting, but I don’t think you can go wrong by choosing either of them.

  16. Jay Leifhton
    July 14, 2019
    Reply

    You shouldn’t travel. Just stay home in NZ and enjoy your peanut slabs for dinner. The whole purpose of traveling is to experience other cultures and people. Instead, you opted to stay in your room and be miserable.

    I travel as a hobby and I just hit my 50 countries this year, and have enjoyed every country I have visited. Even those with mackerels, can spaghetti, and shoddy internet.

    • July 15, 2019
      Reply

      Lol, first of all, I’m not from New Zealand. Secondly, I couldn’t leave my room because there was an enormous storm. What was I going to do, walk around in a cyclone trying to experience a new culture when clearly nobody was going to be outside? Peanut slabs? What on earth is a peanut slab?

      People who brag about how many countries they’ve visited are the worst.

  17. Pio Tagiilima
    October 19, 2019
    Reply

    My wife wondered why I laughed so loud in bed at about 3am in the morning, after waking up and browsed through my phone. I kind having caustrophobic issues and I could understand how you felt especially when you wanted to get out of that situation. I’m glad you made it back safely off the Death Plane. It’s an experience that can challenge us at times. Great read and thanks for sharing your adventure!

  18. ann
    May 13, 2020
    Reply

    This is so funny!

    • May 13, 2020
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the read! Who knew this would turn out to be great practice for prolonged periods of isolation in 2020?

  19. AGAIN and AGAIN!
    November 23, 2020
    Reply

    I think a lot of this is just due to the risks of travelling alone (yes like going into a covid lockdown!!) and not approaching the locals? I had similar patches of loneliness feelings like this travelling by myself and also have travelled through and then lived in Vava’u. I found if you are friendly to the locals anyone will invite you for dinner, and yes Tonga is a third world country that is not set up for too much fancy food, but the kids or fit adults (haha) will climb a tree to grab you a fresh coconut and Sundays everyone cooks up delicious food to share, i just had to put myself out there or face the consequences (which is eating cold canned mackeral! haha that’s really tough in Utungake to get much else) I found the Tongans to have big hearts as long as you are willing to learn about their ways (same as any country). Travel gives you the big intense feels xx. (unlike “NEVER AGAIN” i found the locals super lovely to me and my family and have made beautiful lasting friendships). ps, by eating the Mackeral you have legit tasted what lots of families have as a staple, pretty full on isn’t it

  20. Ken Polasko
    December 8, 2020
    Reply

    You missed a great coffee/t-shirt shop in “downtown” Vavau. Good sandwiches, coffee and cakes.

    • December 8, 2020
      Reply

      I had no way of getting there! I wasn’t within walking distance.

  21. Sola afemui
    May 24, 2021
    Reply

    Lauren I’m glad you take your time to visit the Kingdom of Tonga , it could have been worst but you came out alright . There is nothing that could have predict the horror of expectations failing you, I really would wish your trip would have been different ofa atu

  22. mark
    July 11, 2021
    Reply

    You ate like a queen compared to me. I spent 2 years there in 88-89. I left the US from Wisconsin for good and fell in love with Tonga. There were a couple restauants there that made fresh tuna filet burgers and fries but i soon ran very low on money. For months, all i could afford was 3 packs of ramen soup a day loaded with chilies from the wild bushes. I put up with centipedes crawling on me at night, huge spiders jumping out of banana bunches and the mouse size roaches. And, prior to there, i was very bug phobic. Back then there was no internet. I read 10 to 20 hours a day sometimes. Every sci-fi book in the library. One time i had no food or money and just went into the bush and got breadfruit and casava roots. I loved my island and knew i would live there the the rest of my life. After 2 years, at 36 years old, i was only reading, drinking(i got odd jobs) and screwing. I needed a life and was done with that “paradise” and had an opportunity to move to Hawaii which turned into a 23 year career in environmental consulting. But because of the bond i had with Tonga, i always consider it my second home. I never will go back. It has changed too much and i would rather keep it in my snow globe of memory as is. If you did what i did, you would have gone insane with boredom. One learns how to make homebrew to deaden the brain.

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