Tongan Entrepreneurial Spirit

DSC05776 (Custom)I awoke around 5:30 am to some harmonious music way off in the distance. The melodious sounds seemed to drift in and out of my sleep for over an hour as I lay in bed with the hatch to our room open to let in the morning breeze. As I became more aware of where I was I realized that the music was coming from the shore not far away from us. Peering out our window, I noticed that the sounds were faintly coming from a church up on a hill overlooking the harbour. It was beautiful music from a choir as the four part harmony of the Tongan choir slowly woke me up.

Before long I was up in the cockpit, joined by Teyauna our early riser. We enjoyed watching as the sky started to light up. It wasn’t until a half hour later that Teyauna pointed out to me that it was now “Daytime”. I mentioned to her that it had been getting lighter for some time now but she was quick to point toward where the sun was just about to come up from behind a mountain to say, “No, I mean over there, it is now daytime.” I could see that it was definitely much brighter than the dull light that had crept across the sky. To her it was not daytime until the sun was also up.
As I was in the cockpit snuggling with Teyauna at the helm to enjoy the sunrise a rowboat came up alongside our sailboat. The man introduced himself as if expecting to come onboard. I of course invited him to come onboard thinking he was here just to welcome us to the island. Although he welcomed us to Vava’u, he had a bag full of treasures to offer to us. He pulled out some carved necklaces and a conch shell for us to purchase from him. I sadly had to explain to him that we did not yet have any money and would have to wait until we had gone to shore to get some.

DSC05753 (Custom) (2)About half an hour later another man came rowing over to us. He handed Kirsten a large loaf of warm bread. She had not met the first man and thought he was giving her a gift of some bread. He also had vanilla beans and said that he could hand-make any flag we wanted. After a few minutes we discovered that he wanted 6 pangas ($3.50) for the bread. Kirsten tried returning the bread but he did not want to take it back. We told him as well that we did not have any money and he said he would just come back later. That’s when I with my previous experience handed him back the warm bread and told him that we did not want to purchase anything until after we had some money. He was rather disappointed but took the bread back (later on in the day I went to a bakery that sold the bread for 2.80 pangas).

After spending just one day in Tonga I have noticed that the people here are very industrious. They work hard farming and doing other things to make a living. These two older men rowed around to the boats to sell their goods. It was great to see that they did not wait around home feeling sorry for themselves or that they had no job. They, like many of the Tongan people, look for opportunities to make a living and set out to take care of themselves and their families.

Another example of this was when I turned on VHF channel 26 to contact the customs office to find out what we needed to do to finalize our paperwork. At 8:30am someone came on and proceeded to do a call in morning show for all of the yachties. At first they gave the weather report. This followed by a call for all boaters to announce buy, sell or trade items. They then had an opportunity for community events to be announced followed by advertisements from sponsoring shops and stores in Vava’u. It was another example to me of the entrepreneurial spirit in action.

Close Menu