Cut down to size in Tonga

pizza_sliceWeird things can happen under a tropical sun. While in Tonga I’m truly cut down to size and left in no doubt about how I shape up in the overall local scheme of things.

Ravenous after a day of round-island sightseeing without even a sandwich, I urgently seek food along Vuna Road on the Nuku’alofa seafront. The pizza joint looks appealing so I take a seat at a table in the courtyard. A jovial lady breezes over to take my order.

I’ll have a pizza, please.

She considers me thoughtfully, then with a sweet smile she says, “Sorry, but you cannot have”.

What’s this? A pizza joint with no pizza? Surely not? Not even in Nuku’alofa.

So what else is there?

There is pizza  … and there is spaghetti, she replies.

But you just said no pizza!

toma

The island nation of Tonga in the middle of the Pacific

She giggles, squirming with embarrassment. There is pizza, she says, but you can’t have.

Why on earth not?

Covering a smirk behind a hand she mutters what sounds like, You too small.  Cue more smothered giggling.

Too small? I’m amused by this unexpected ripost but also puzzled. What do you mean by that? 

More embarrassment before she replies:  You too small. You can’t eat!

By now three hefty Tongans hunched over a nearby table within earshot are also chuckling openly. With growing indignation I ask, Surely anyone can eat here?

Yes, yes, she assures me, but you just you, no one else.

This doesn’t make any sense to me but before I can think of a reply a waiter arrives carrying a metal tray the size of car wheel, which he plonks onto the table with the three men, revealing in all its glory a truly gigantic pizza, a huge, steaming, mass of pastry and gooey melted cheese. The hungry trio get stuck in.

Hah, look! exclaims my waitress in triumph. You, only you. You cannot eat!

This one, she says, pointing at the colossal pizza, this one for two, for three, like these (indicating the three massive Tongans). But for you? You too small!

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