Monday, August 18, 2014

One Man's Passion for Generations to Enjoy

Haniteli in his garden
The World ARC had a path dedicated to them.
One of the tours we did in Tonga was to the 'Ene'io Botanical Garden. As the brochure says: where beauty abounds. It is a natural garden nestled on the shores of beautiful 'Ene'io Beach in Tu'anekivale, Vava'u, Tonga! How is that for a location address!

After arriving by bus, we were handed branches of leaves for shooing away the mosquitoes! They are a problem everywhere and I think they see me as new meat. For some reason, I attract them more than Dennis does. These branches proved to be very useful. 
The garden was founded by Haniteli when he was seven years old! He started collecting plants and relocating them to his family property. The official garden was started in 1972 and has over 550 different plant varieties.

Making tapa cloth
Haniteli tells the story of this garden with such great passion. After retiring from high positions in the government, he and his wife Lucy now run tours, a restaurant, and share native culture with their guests.

The garden is on 'Ene'io Beach, the first port of call for Ancient Polynesians with remnant of ancient rock cuttings, burial grounds and waterholes of 'Ene'io. The bay is beautiful. Obviously, Haniteli's family had the prime real estate at the time and of course, it stays in the family. They shared their culture with demonstrations of tapa making and palm weaving. It is amazing to watch the women prepare the plant material and then pound it for hours into large thin sheets to make tapa cloth. I never would have thought it could be done: going from a one inch strip to a 12 inch piece! Amazing!

I have done some basket weaving in my time, but these women are like machines. Within 15 minutes, one had striped the palm leaves from the stalk and had made a large basket! Working with fresh green material is a little easier than the dry materials we had to soak, but still ...

Preparing the kava
We also watched them make kava from the root of the pepper plant and prepare the traditional drink. This is a non-alcoholic, non-narcotic drink that is somewhat sedative. Mostly the men drink it - like having a beer (or several) with the guys! It is known to numb your tongue and make you sleepy.

Lunch on the spit!
One of the highlights of this tour was the lunch and program that followed. They roasted two small piglets over an open fire. It was very tasty and was served with other traditional dishes. The best was the dark chocolate coconut cake! At this point, you could serve us anything with dark chocolate and we would love it!

Some high school dancers performed a number of dances for the entertainment. Although not as "professional" as some of the performances we have seen, it was delightful to see the children in a natural free dance mood. Some really have rhythm!


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