Our taxi driver from town was hilarious.
“How do you know when a Tongan has had enough to eat?” he says, grinning.
Since the larger you are in Tonga, the more prestige you have, we were curious to hear the answer.
“When he only has enough room for…
one more plateful!!!”
He laughs heartily. We laugh with him.
Tongan Sense of Humour
All of the Tongans we met had a big broad smile and laughed easily. We thoroughly enjoyed their easy sense of humour. How much fun it is to be around people who seem to love life.
Then he asked,
“Want to know how you kill a Tongan?”
Well, that was a strange question! We were a little alarmed, but we were ready for another bit of humour.
“You invite him for dinner!!!
And he burst out laughing.
Ha Ha Ha!
Where we stayed at Keleti Resort, the women who owned and operated the hotel were always laughing.
And sometimes acting just plain silly…
You couldn’t help but laugh.
Women Run The Tongan Businesses
In fact, it is the women in Tonga who tend to run all the businesses and offices. The men do the physical labour, lifting, delivering and cleaning.
One day I asked the women if they could look up something for me on their computer behind the desk. I had not brought any electronics on this trip because I knew internet connections were sporadic.
“You can just come here and look it up yourself!” they said.
I thought they were just teasing me, but no, they were actually serious. Furthermore, they told me to just come whenever I wanted and use the computer. How cool was that! I would just march in and sit down behind the desk like I owned the place. No one batted an eyelash.
T had a similar experience. One warm evening, there was no one manning the bar/lounge, and he wanted a beer. He looked around but couldn’t find anyone. He called out. Nothing. He walked around outside and saw one of the men cleaning up in the yard, so went down to ask him if someone would be coming to look after the bar. The Tongan man told him to just go behind the bar and help himself to a beer in the fridge and pay later.
Surprised but pleased, T walked behind the bar and with a dash of guilt, pulled out a beer, then looking quickly around, slipped out from behind the bar as if he had done something wrong. Later, he assuaged his guilt and paid the girl behind the bar the next time he saw her. After that, whenever he felt like having a beer, he walked calmly behind the bar when no one was manning it and just helped himself to a beer like he owned the place.
Just Part of the Family
We soon felt like part of the family in Tonga. We even started to learn a bit of the local gossip and internal dramas and romances. The natural friendly ways of the Tongan people made us feel right at home.
What a perfect vacation when the weather is sunny and warm, the surroundings are exotically gorgeous, you can completely relax, and the people around you have you laughing out loud!
*This post was first published on Travel To Little Known Places in June 2013.