Although every port-of-call was special to us, the hands-down favorite was the Kingdom of Tonga. Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state, which means it governs itself, and is an archipelago of 169 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. Four major groups of islands form the Kingdom: Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u, and Niua groups. Tonatapu is the main island and its capitol is Nuku’alofa. We spent about six weeks in Tonga, all in the Vava’u group.
The only Pacific Island nation never colonized by a foreign power, the Kingdom of Tonga is known as “The Friendly Islands.” Tongans are strongly Christian, the people helpful and friendly.
Upon arrival we anchored Impunity near the small town of Neiafu and rowed our dingy ashore. Tongans constantly swept their wooden sidewalks and packed earthen streets–we were impressed with how clean everything was.
Surprisingly, pigs wandered around at will. I wasn’t sure where they did their business, but we didn’t see any pig-doo along the streets. We saw pigs, of all different colors and sizes, on church steps, sidewalks, streets, in yards. They were apparently a part of the community.
Pigs had their useful purpose. The Tongans didn’t mow lawns; pigs kept them neat and trim. They ate much of the soft garbage, like fallen fruit. And, of course, pigs provided meat. We learned that domestic pigs played an important role in social obligations mainly for gifts and exchange at feasts, weddings and funerals.
During our stay in Tonga we moved Impunity around to anchor near different islands. The water was clear and beautiful–ideal for snorkeling.
Off one of the uninhabited islands where we regularly anchored, we often rowed ashore to feed a couple of piglets. Because of their coloration, we called one of the piglets Stars and the other Stripes. The mother stayed clear of us, hovering in nearby bushes, ready to protect her babies. I would have loved to hold them, but was afraid I would alarm their mother. We enjoyed the little pigs and saved our kitchen scraps for them.
Tonga was a paradise and those little pigs added immensely to our enjoyment.