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Monday, September 10, 2012

Not a lotta news from the Lottermosers

Eugen and Erika Lottermoser during their recent three-month stay in Vanuatu. Eugen, you're forever the optimist, aren't you? I mean, at our age, I wouldn't even think of getting green bananas!

 

When I visited Ha'apai in the Kingdom of Tonga in 2006, I stayed at Billy's Place, a ten-minute bike-ride from Pangai. Billy's Place wasn't exactly 5-star but I loved its peace and quiet. The only - and constant - sound was from the nearby surf, punctuated by an occasional grunt from the approaching 'room service'.

'Room service' at Billy's Place

Even Pangai, where I met Horst Berger, one of its expat residents, at the Mariner's Café, wasn't exactly a beehive of activities.

Moi (left) and Horst at the Mariner's Café in Pangai

Rush hour in Pangai

However, things changed a couple of days into my stay when Erika and Eugen Lottermoser moved into the "Honeymoon Sweet" at Billy's Place. They're Germans (not that you would've guessed from their name, would you?) who live in the South Island of New Zealand where they run a B&B. Eugen turned out to be a laugh a minute and we had a good time together.

l-to-r: Eugen, Horst, and Erika at the Mariner's

l-to-r: moi, Horst, and Erika at Billy's

l-to-r: moi, the 'Tonga cake' maker, Eugen, and Erika

l-to-r: Amaneki Paea of Tonga Co-operative Federation, moi, Eugen, Erika, Kerry Pontrelli (Tim Pontrelli took the picture)
At Suliana's in Tongatapu which got burnt down during the riots in late 2006. The then German owners, Holger Kohl and Juliane Hildebrand, were evacuated, courtesy of the German taxpayer, back to Germany where Holger was last seen working in Berlin as deckhand on a "Touristendampfer" on the Havel. "Leinen los!"

 

From a New Zealand newspaper article at the time:

Time to leave, and no going back

"I can't forget, and I can't forgive." Those were the bitter words of Juliane Hildebrand who, with her husband Holger, lost a restaurant to the mob. The German couple had owned the business for nine years.

Tourists had rushed up to what they thought was the safety of the second floor of the building, but finally had to be told to get out as a strong easterly wind blew flames from the blazing Indian-owned department store next door.

Mrs Hildebrand said she knew it was all over for the business. "I said: 'We are going to lose everything today'."

Too many people they knew had taken part in the riot, so the couple planned to leave Tonga, their home of nearly 11 years, as soon as possible, and for good, Mrs Hildebrand said.

 

I've just received a short email from Lottermosers telling me of their recent three-month trip to Vanuatu and attaching Eugen's mortality-defying green-banana shot. Goodonya, Erika and Eugen!

Do you remember the 'Tongan cakes' they served for breakfast at Billy's? I still have the recipe: 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix the lot, shape into balls, and fry in a pan full of hot oil. Easier than damper!

I hardly recognised you in the photo, Eugen; your usual horizontal palm-up side-to-side gesture was missing!!! And I hope you will send Horst a postcard; better still, make it a letter as you can't enclose a banknote in a postcard ☺