Yesterday I was in the kingdom of Tonga, population, according to our guide, 106, 146 people; 98.1% literate (Tongan and English); 51% male, 49% female; 98% Christian (Weslayan aka Methodist), Mormon and Roman Catholic, in order of representation, with the Mormons coming up faster;'and the other 2% scattered "others". The rainy season was over, but we had a maverick day. Our group excursion went by bus to a wharf and then on a ferry to an island resort. To cal it a last resort would not be inappropriate. A five-star yacht club it was not, more like a fishing shack with a corrugated plastic roof and a bar. In sunny weather it would have been an ideal place to veg out on the sand by the water. As it was we stayed out of the spray, spit and drizzle (varying phases of the rain) and waited until we were rescued. We were fed some lunch. I bought some jollies for my granddaughters and had no cash left for a beer or even a coconut milk because I wanted to have some left for tips for the guides. Our mentor was sweet: she sang the Tongan national anthem for us in a strong contralto voice - turns out she is the lead singer in her church and she made her guide-in-trainning, a handsome young man in a black skirt and a beautiful embroidered shirt, dance for us.
Rough benches and tables accommodated the diners and drinkers but there were no chairs with backs to ease our bodies for the long wait for the return trip. The first ferry load left at 3 p.m. and our guide sang to us again and then led us in a sweet rendition of "Amazing Grace." Suddenly the grey day was shot with light as twenty disparate people with little in common but a lust for travel expressed their gratitude for salvation.
And I got back in time for Trivial Pursuit.