If you can't reach anyone on Channel 16 upon entering Niuetoputapu (the one handheld radio on the island doesn't always work), the officials prefer that you wait until someone honks a car at the wharf, whereupon you go pick up the officials in your dinghy and invite them aboard.
It took 20 minutes to fill out the various forms. We offered the the two officials cold colas and chocolate cookies, which they consumed with vigor. A cold soda is a valuable commodity since there is no refrigeration on the island. Apparently we lucked out and the third official was unavailable.
(We were told by the cruisers who arrived the following day that he has a longing for cold beer... and he is eager to have a few at every boat!)
The island is home to simplistic lifestyles. However, a variety of touristy experiences can be enjoyed in Nuietoputapu for low prices:
Horse back riding
rent bicycles or cars
a trip to the fertile island named "Tin Can Island"
hiking on the ridge
a Tongan feast
a bowl of Tongan kava
The tsunami 5 or so years ago wiped out many of the islander's homes and belongings. The locals are very interested in trading fruit for practical items, especially if you are coming from American Samoa:
mugs, pots, pans, cups
kitchen knives and other kitchen items
used clothing & shoes
Although the locals don't have much, we have not experienced any begging. The people are very friendly and Carolyne has made a hit with the local children, as she sometimes hands out "lollies" to the little ones. They even like the "mystery" lollipop flavors we find revolting - pizza, bacon and popcorn.
We were invited to Catholic mass this morning (and even my husband went!) It was a very simple service in a small building with extension cords running up the wall where bare bulbs hung overhead. There was no organist or stereo system - the singing was a glorious mixture of harmony and melody much like the Gregorian chants - it was hauntingly beautiful and brought tears to my eyes!
We have been invited to Sia's and Nico's home for an after church potluck this afternoon. I'm hoping they don't serve the black dog that was hit by the truck when we were leaving. Two young men dragged it down the road by the hind legs and Sia explained that they'll take it to the owners who will bake it in the "umu", the Tongan oven.
She told me dog is very tasty.
We hoped we had abandoned our western snobbery when we left to go cruising over 7 years ago.
I'll have to get back to you on that one.