Hulu'i Paongo Tomb
In Search of Hulu’i Paongo Tomb
Feeling a little cheated by the ‘Ahau Bathing Well and Velata Fortress, we put all our eggs in the basket of finding Hulu’i Paongo’s Tomb. We stopped to admire this shop.
We cycled by one of the three petrol stations on the island.
With ever deflating bike tyres, I had hope in my heart and crossed fingers that Bear would tell me that this, the first graveyard out of town was it. No, we have to go down an unmade road yet for two inches on the map. Please Lord, may it not be like that time in Fort Lauderdale when he told me Sear’s was an inch and a half on his IPad and we walked over five miles and the police lady did a u-turn just to see people walking in her town. You know by now dear reader, that I only do that sort of thing when I have many names signed up on a sponsor form for a worthy charitable organisation. I look down at my tyres as Bear pipes up, you’ll be fine......
The second one was a repeat of the first.
The third, my eyes brighten in anticipation as this looks like important people...... Noooooooooooooooo, we are looking for something over a hundred years old. I might fit the bill in a minute. Did I mention we are on those things that you pedal backwards to stop, no suspension, something creaks every time the wheel goes round and I have a flap out of my seat that keeps biting at my nether.........Do you know the bloke we are looking for and why. No idea, but its on the map. Oh..............Come on chin up. Its not my bloody chin I’m concerned about..........
We leave the main road (very slack descriptive) and find what my knees see as an endless sandy track. I feel a thrommy could come on at any minute. We get to the end of this bit and another stretches out equally as long, by the third stretch I jettison my bike in the bushes in favour of Shanks's Pony. I’m getting that look of despair. Paint Pepe's face bright red with grey edges about the gills. Bear ever the gentleman stops pedaling and waits at the next corner. Where’s your bike. I look about me for a suitable object to hurt him with, what do you think I’ve done, I’ve just auctioned it on Ebay Oh. I’ll give you Oh. Still the gentleman, he now walks his bike beside me and carries the beach gizzit we (or I) carry everywhere.
This looks promising.
I take the proof picture to show ‘we were here’. Nope, this isn’t it. If he says that one more time I’ll.................
At this point we step out onto the beach to judge how much further. You can imagine my heart sink when I looked at the horizon. Noooooooooooooooooo, that’s the next island called Uoleva – you can walk to that at low tide. Please Lord, may it be high tide. I cheer up as I realise the bush at the end marks the southern tip, Hoorah. We walk a little further to check.
Is this a sign ???? No, our blog readers demand more when it comes to being intrepid. Bear goes back for his trusty steed saying he will meet me at the end and I walk on.
Ping - great idea. I’ll paddle along the hard, flat coral and as the water gently laps in, it will cool my throbbing feet. Mmmmmm. A wave came from nowhere and I’m now wet to my borrowed shirt. Here in Tonga you must cover up, nary a cleavage to ever be seen. On public beaches you are supposed to swim in a tee shirt over your cozzie. Now I like to wear vests and as I didn’t want to wear a tee shirt, I had borrowed one of Bear’s cotton shirts. I am wearing shorts, way too big with elastic that has been dodgy from the start. Now soaked, gravity and Mr. Newton are having a giggle behind their enormous text books.
Somehow, I manage one of those driftwood pictures that you see in Athena, whilst hanging on to my shorts and pulling at the shirt that is trying to become part of my very flesh. I press on to the corner.
Hoorah, the corner. Bear meets me and I am in the water to cool off before I can say “did you pass anything that will do for the real tomb”. Oh yes, I think I did. Thank you. Words of pure bliss. We have a long dip in the current strong shallows and dry off on the beach thingy that comes everywhere. Must have both nodded for ten minutes as we both came round to incredible pins and needles. Time to get back to the task in hand.
Quite soon Bear points up a gap and I see a modern looking grave at the top. Someone has planted heliconium, I trot up and take an older looking job to the left, but Bear points out that breeze blocks won’t do, too modern. I could bite him. I smile and somehow say we’ll carry on then.
Just in case, I take a picture of the hillock to the right – just in case, just in case, say it as slowly as I am thinking it.
Back at the impressive place, where we had taken to the beach, we see an area marked by non-breeze blocks – definitely coral blocks. This could be a winner, well Hulu’i Paonga anyway. Note to self. Look this person up on the world wide web. If he doesn’t get any hits I will have to think of stern reprisals for the skipper of Beez Neez. Why me. Well, who else you numpty.
Sadly, I find my bike where I had left it. Tyres now looking like a toffee that has been left out in the sun. We stop by the graveyard we had see first on the left as we entered the sandy track. Could, just could the ‘one carefully owned’ grave at the front be the one we seek ???, we’ll ask and see. The posh gravestone is further back before you ask, it’s just an illusion that it belongs to our target. We must have it in one of the likely suspects we’ve wasted our lives finding.
Last one as we get back to town. We know one of them belongs to Olovehi because it says so on the map in the freebie tour guide. I am so going to rip that book into tiny pieces, see if I don’t. We begin pedaling back, a long cold one calling both of us. I dropped my hat and doing my best to do a u-turn on something Noah had surveyed his pairings with, I crashed into a fence. Would have to be the only house where two ladies were sitting outside sewing. Ooops, “sorry”, I called. They thought it was hysterical, barmy tourists on dodgy bikes. Off I went, trying to muster some sort of dignity. We get back to the Mariner’s Café. I’d like to say it was a graceful departure from my steed, but it looked more like Buster Keaton flinging himself in a comedic gesture. “Are you alright” Magda asked in a concerned voice. Four cans of luminous-yellow-pineapple juice later, and I get the will to talk once more. Later, a lady sits opposite. She told us that she came in from Australia to take her mum on holiday as she had never visited the island before. She used to work as a guide from Tongatapu. Oh, well you’ll know which grave it is that we have been after. “No. That was over a hundred years ago”. Ever wanted to smack a complete stranger ????
ALL IN ALL A DEDICATED DAY TO BEING A PROFESSIONAL TOURIST.................