Going ashore in Nuku'alofa was very difficult. We were encouraged to stay near the recovering part of the business district, but of course I ignored that suggestion and marched as close as I could to an area which is still completely wrecked. I could still smell the burnt ash; it reminded me of the time my parent's house was set on fire when I was in the fourth grade. The smell of burning wood is more than just that. It's the smell of devastation.
After spending an hour or so among the remains of the once vibrant thouroughfare, I visited a Chinese shop, purchased a luck charm, then returned to the ship. There was a lot of energy in that city that I was uncomfortable with. The people of Nuku'alofa seemed restless, even though everything was outwardly calm. It felt like something was waiting to happen.
I preferred to wait elsewhere.
After a couple of days on the ocean, we came to New Zealand, which is a complete turnaround from Tonga. I've all but forgotten that it's winter at home; New Zealand feels more like late spring! It's sunny and peaceful in this part of the world, making the days perfect for morningtime gin and tonics. Jessica, Gemma and I visited the Auckland Art Gallery a couple of days ago, which was really exotic in its own way. Although I spent most of our visit in the European Art exhibition, seeing works of art which were familiar to me (Dali, Degas, etc.), it was the first museum that I've visited outside of Chicago. Everything seemed so much more vibrant and fresh just because it was outside of the Art Institute; for the first time in years I wasn't bored to tears by a museum. =)
Gemma eventually dragged me away from the European art to expand my mind with works made by people from and in New Zealand, but then I dragged both her and Jessica to Queen Street to expand all of our minds with sightseeing, window shopping, and most importantly, local brews. This is a good country.