Downside to never being taken over by a western power: There’s a lot of poverty in Tonga.
There’s a lot of wealth too, it’s just focused on the royal family and a very small percentage of ultra-rich. Driving around Tonga, like in Mexico, it was not unusual to drive past a grand palatial estate that had hovels as immediate neighbors.
So you’re saying “Ok so yeah guys hey you notice we’re kinda having the same thing here back home? What, you been under a rock the past few months?”
On a boat, actually, rocks don’t float. And this is different though the overarching issue is the same. What is the guaranteed minimum quality of life we as Americans, or as people, should have? Isn’t that one of the core issues that universal health care, minimum wages, taxation, all of it ultimately comes to? Tiffany’s brother Chris and Greg spent a few hours talking about “the right of internet access.” It all comes down to what is the minimum acceptable standard of living that we can reasonably expect. Where that line should be drawn.
In Tonga, there is no minimum we’re aware of.
And things are a lot more…. run down in Tonga than we noticed in other Polynesian countries.
In Tahiti the entire country is a colony of France. Downside- no self-governance (well, they have a representative to the French now) and every now and then the French government used to test a thermo-nuclear weapon on an island (eventually they stopped). Upside- no matter where you go in all the hundred-plus islands of French Polynesia, no matter how out of the way you are, if you’re hungry a full 2 foot long baguette is only 50 cents.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like a fair exchange, and as we’ve said before the nukes are so inexplicably wrong on so many levels, but before we write off the French as completely horrible perhaps we should take a moment to appreciate what it takes to make freshly baked bread available for 50 cents on a remote island village approximately 3000 miles of open ocean away from the nearest wheat field.
Tonga has no such sponsor so you either pay for it & the delivery yourself or you go without bread.
Perhaps before we call the USA imperialistic bastards we should note that from what we hear the quality of life in American Samoa (US territory) is far better than Western Samoa (not a US territory), so much better that there are immigration issues between the islands. Having the only Wal-Mart for 5000 miles makes one’s country popular it would seem.
For better or worse, Tonga does not have Wal-Mart…or any discount retail options for that matter.
The New Zealand government gives the government of Niue 14 million dollars a year. This is the single largest income the country receives and makes up a significant portion of their annual budget.
Tonga has no larger country actively committed to annually giving them millions of dollars to do with as they please.
Oddly enough, kids school uniforms always looked fresh, clean & pressed
Tonga is independent, it is free…and it is not subsidized. We mentioned China and the Mormon church and how they have managed to place themselves firmly into the Tongan way of life simply by spending money here. Hey, no one else was and the money was needed. So is colonization bad? Kind of. Is sponsorship good? Mostly.
Grey areas suck eh?
It’s not all cheap bread and good times on the other side of the equation either. To find out more about the extreme hardships the Marquesan people endured as a European colony click on “Next Stop: Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia”
About the authors
Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures. If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at www.CoastGuardCouple.com!