I’m sure that’s how the song goes and just where I ended up!
Our new (refurbished) autopilot took just an amazing three days to go from London to Nuku’alofa the capitol of Tonga and there it sat waiting patiently to get uplifted (that’s airline talk for putting it onboard – don’t you just the hate the American influence!) to our waiting hands in Neiafu a short 45 minute flight. As easy as it sounds it turned out to be one hell of an effort to finally receive it.
We were advised by the agent in Nuku’alofa that it had cleared customs, he had taken the parcel to the airport and it would be in our hands on Saturday afternoon. Not bad I hear you say just a day turn around and bingo. Sadly our numbers didn’t come up and there was no bingo on Saturday afternoon when the airport staff at the Real Tonga office (that’s the local airline) advised us that there was no freight on the Saturday flight. Bugger – there goes our weekend of install and testing. So we headed for the video player and some real cheap movies we bought at the local shop, but that’s a completely different story. In the meantime we weather the first cyclone of the season – Tuni, passing just to the northeast of us and giving us high winds and lots of rain. Those movies would’ve been great if they weren’t in Russian and Spanish subtitles….
Come Monday morning we head to Tropicana cafe where Greg the owner has become the quasi DHL agent who assists Mapa the REAL DHL agent who only has a taxi not an office. Greg’s advice is to go to the Real Tonga office and do whatever is necessary to find our parcel. So off I head, stand in the queue and when asked go into my explanation re our lost parcel:
“ We’re waiting on a very important parcel from DHL which arrived in Nuku’alofa on Thursday”
The charming lady looks to the set of bins at the side of the office “it’s not here”
“Yes I know that but I need to find it urgently”
“Where did it go?”
“It should have come here and we were told that it should have been on the Saturday flight and we hope that it came this morning”
“No I just checked the bin and it’s not here”
“I know that, so where is it?”
After an interesting conversation on the phone with other airport officials my charming lady announced.
“I know where it is”
“Excellent – where?”
“at the airport”
“that’s fantastic news when can we get it to the office?”
“But it’s just at the airport can’t we go and get it now?”
“No it’s in Nuku’alofa”
“Oh ….that airport. “
Now Greg’s advice was to do whatever it took to get the parcel here so here it goes.
Walking around the counter I drop to my knees and plead that we are desperate to get our parcel today. Both girls behind the counter start to giggle and now I think well I am on the way so I’m sure Di will forgive me if I offer to marry my charming lady to ensure we get our parcel. So as marriage as a backup plan I go for my first option and offer to buy all the girls lunch if only they can get the package on the 12:00 flight today. Again I’m met with lots of giggles and finally my charming lady lets me off the hook for both lunch and my marriage proposal by ensuring me that they will get it on the midday flight, and they did. So at 14:30 in the afternoon we became proud parents of a refurbished autopilot and so, game on and NZ here we come! Will keep you posted.