Well, We just finished watching the presidential elections from a yacht-ee establishment in town. I, along with about 90% of my fellow PCV's, am thrilled.
It has come to my attention that I may not have been completely clear in my last blog; I do get to go to the dances at the Mormon church because my homestay family attends the Mormon church and since being here I have gone with them. Religion is a huge part of the Tongan culture, and Sundays are reserved for going to church and resting. Sepi and I were hungry last Sunday, so we walked to my language teachers house and asked if we could pick some mangoes. Unfortunately, we were informed that you are not allowed to pick mangoes on Sunday. So she went inside and got us mangoes that she had picked the day before to stock up for Sunday. My Sunday's are spent reading a lot, walking with the other PCV's (we're not really supposed to, but we can't stand laying around all day), and studying. They tend to be pretty dull days. Once we are given our placements, we won't have to go to church every Sunday, but most volunteers do and I probably will because that is such a huge part of the culture and the entire village comes every week, so it is a good time to meet people and make connections.
As for the kalapu, it was overall successful, with a few minor incidents on my part. Within the first ten minutes, in true fashion, I dropped the serving spoon into the bucket of kava and had to fish it out. We can pretty much only stand up once during the ceremony (4-hour!), and when I did I proceeded to kick over a can that the men were putting their cigarette butts and ashes in, as well as extra kava. I made a mess. To top off the night, we were praying and I opened my eyes and saw my baby sister try to sit in a chair on the ground, which almost tipped over, and I started laughing. Haha, after the prayer the guy next to me asked why I was laughing during prayer, and I tried to explain, but he didn't find it as funny as I did. But, I did get asked to come back and tou-a for another kalapu this coming up weekend. Also, we raised 335 pa'anga for the elementary school in our village.
On Friday this week we have an ocean survival course, so that's something I'm really looking forward to. In addition, on Saturday some of the current volunteers planned a boat trip for us on a local whale-watching boat. We will spend the day on the boat, stopping to do some snorkeling and hang out on a beach. All of the current volunteers we have met are so nice and caring; they are willing to answer all of our questions (and there are a lot!) and most importantly, they really seem to love Tonga, which is encouraging. Yesterday we all had class together and the current volunteers cams and handed out "care packages" because they know how good it feels to get a care package. They had sudoku, the funnies from a New York newspaper, candy, and personal notes. It was super nice.
I'm still working on being able to put some pictures up, the internet is very slow here in Tonga, and I always end up being in a big rush to catch a bus! Hopefully soon though. Hope all is well with everyone! OH and a special good luck to Jeffrey and the rest of the Lathrop swim team at State this weekend!