Although many volunteers have left, we still have a lot here (based on land mass and population). Still we are definitely not packed. Part of that is just the geography of Tonga. My friend Bria lives 20 miles away and I can see her village from mine. But since she lives on the next island over, ‘Eua it is expensive and time consuming to get there. As for Tongatapu, my island, the big island, it is still small. The perception to Tongans is that it is huge, probably because it is the biggest they have. Still it is only 35km to town from my house and I live far away. That distance is following the roads around the lagoon too, not as the fruit bat flies.
To get to Tongatapu takes 1 hour by bus (once you get ON the bus, it could take 1 minute to 2 hours waiting for the bus) and 30 minutes by car. According to my neighbors it is “very far” and impossible to bike (3 to 3 ½ hours). My friend Joe regularly bikes to work a 1 hour bike ride. All the women in his village shake their heads and warn his wife about all the girlfriends he obviously has as it is impossible to bike that far. The hardest part of transportation in Tonga is the busses only run 7-5 Monday to Friday 7-3 Saturday. So if you want to stay after 4:30 you are spending the night. No busses on Sunday so after 3 on Saturday you have to stay until Monday. I can’t get to town after 3pm ever so pre planning is definitely required. Either that or spend the 40 pa’anga (20 USD) for a cab home. Since that is almost half of my food budget for the week I have yet to choose that option.