For the last few months, we've been struggling with what to publish. You've already read about feasts, celebrations, funerals, our daily schedules, having fun, what Nuku'alofa sounds like. You've read about easy cultural faux pas, the top five pests in Tonga, cooking underground, and hierarchy in daily life. You've followed our holidays, our work transitions, our observations from globalization to chop suey.
We wanted to talk about our experiences here and how they related to daily life and culture in Tonga, but surprisingly, after three years, we're largely out of material!
This week, we'll talk about that gorgeous natural archway: Hufangalupe.
Most of Tongatapu is very, very flat, but Hufangalupe happens to be one of the few places on the island you can stand at the top of huge cliffs and look out at the breaking surf far below. Highlights are several lookouts with beautiful views, a tiny trail you can climb down to the beach, and of course, the huge natural archway.
We first checked the tide charts in hopes that the tide would be low enough when we got there. This time, we weren't so lucky, but if it's low tide, you can hike down to the beach, and walk across the exposed coral rock to stand right under the archway. During our 30 minute scooter ride east from Nuku'alofa, we drove on the only main road out of the city, past roadside tables in each village where people had laid out nearly identical selections of goods for Saturday shoppers: cabbage, coconuts, capsicum, used clothes, and random assortments of packaged goods from relatives overseas. One table with nothing but boxed soup mix. Another with nothing but Chinese deoderant and Mrs Butterworth's butter flavoured corn syrup.
|Directions: Turn right at the Vaini Police station, where the car is emerging in the picture|
Reaching the town of Vaini, we turned right at the police station, and went down the suddenly very rural road, which after a desolate intersection, turns into a dirt road. Nothing is signed, so we followed our memories and landmarks we'd made a note of, like the police station, and a bush house on the right as you cross into the dirt road.
|Reach a T-junction in the paved road, and continue straight on the dirt track|
|The darker clump of grass directly in the middle of the frame is the start of the path to the beach. Can't you see it?|
|Several meters down the road, it comes to this Y-junction. Right is to the lookout, where Mark's going, left is to the arch|
|The lookout opens to this gorgeous view of the cliffs and coral below|
|And the archway is almost un-capturable in pictures: it's massive stone towers above you and on all sides in person. Mark is actually very far away from the archway in this picture.|
In the next few years, Hufangalupe may get some basic signage and trails, which will really help everyone, including visitors, enjoy it a bit more for it's strengths: a spectacular natural hiking and lookout site.