Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Thank you Tonga.
I am writing this at 6am, in the safety and comfort of my bed, our temporary home, a lovely simple beach hut in at the Royal Sunset Resort on Atata island. As I lay here under my mosquito net, I have an overwhelming sense of apprehension at the prospect of setting sail, possible due to the pouring rain and wind I listen too outside, and that technically, we should have left and I should not be here typing this blog while the fan sweeps across my bed, but rather on board Talisker Bounty Boat, wet, and uncomfortable! Alas I'm not.... thanks to the delay of flights from london, on board one, is our vital safety gear, life jackets! So while I wait, the wind howls and the rain pours outside I shall appreciate my extended comfort with gratitude!
Its been an interesting week to report on, our visit to the Prime Minister's office and to His Majesty King George Tupou V, I felt very humble on both occasions. As I did at our official send off from the navel docks; I've never been present with so many dignitaries at one time. Meeting one of Captain Bligh's descendants was great, he provided us with his family tree and this all contributed to an amazing event and the depth of experience for the crew of Talisker Bounty Boat.
As we rowed out from the docks and set sail across the bay, I had no apprehension! On board was the full crew, settling in, finding precious space to store belongings and learning our way around Talisker Bounty Boat. Chris was suffering from sea sickness while taking far to much teasing.... All of which was claimed to be laughing with him, not at him, until he pointed out that he wasn't laughing! Good point Chris! and as sea sickness subsided his humour and wit returned!
The Royal visit was a special occasion; Your majesty.... Your..... Majesty.... Youuur majeeeesti... I practiced it most of the morning prior to our appointment, I confess to not addressing royalty in my usual social circles, a few friends who maybe think they are royalty! and a few who claim to be queens... but this was the first time for me to meet Royal Blood as they say.
I expected his highness to be high brow and that I would feel rather tiny in his presence, but if kings are measured by how comfortable they make plebeians feel, then His Majesty King George Tupou V is high on my ratings! His manner made me feel quite at ease! Though I'm not sure I could have spent as long with him as Don did, not without tripping up on my words. But I am certain Don will report on his private interview.... For this plebeian it was a very pleasant experience.... Your Majesty, thank you, for your time, generosity, your attention and support for our expedition and MND. Thank you for making us feel so welcome in your Kingdom. It truly is a wonderful one! And if your are reading this, thank you for reading our blog!
A highlight of my week was the opportunity to spend some time with the Tongan people, the visit from the local school, fascinated by the boat, it was wonderful to witness the children singing on board while Talisker Bounty Boat sailed around the bay. Our visit to the local church was interesting, even if I didn't understand the language, I understood all to well the wagging finger, retribution it would seem is still alive and kicking! On a separate occasion I had the most recent copy of Asian Literary Review under my arm and was thoroughly refreshed by discussions with a Tongan on the availability of literature in english language, not western writers, but from such diverse cultures and nationalities. We read poetry by asian authors and I felt so proud that Asia is my home and the home of so many creative writers, artist and minds. We discussed Tongan writers, they were unaware of any who's works had been translated into english. (If any readers know of any please let me know) We discussed at length the culture of the Tongan people and as we talked I found myself in such admiration for the Tongan people. They shared openly how they face their challenges with day to day life in Tonga. This all reminded me how easy it is for me to see the differences in other cultures, to differentiate myself, when in reality what we are and desire is so very similar; To prosper and improve our lives, a good education and future for our children, to share love, with our families, our friends, partners or lovers, to be at peace with ourselves and have dignity and self respect.
Tonga is a beautiful country, the people have great qualities, they are generous, warm hearted and have a attitude to life that us city dwellers should learn from.....
Come visit, savor its culture, share with its people and you will leave with a lighter heart and a skip in your soul! I certainly am!
Thank you Tonga!