I know, I know, it's been too long, and I apologize. Shortly after my last posting, I found myself sick again, and was sent to a main island to see a doctor. On the flight there, I got to see the underwater volcano erupting which was pretty neat. I don't know how many of you heard about that, I guess it was pretty big news though. Two days after I got to the main island we had a 7.9 earthquake, followed by a tsunami warning. I ended up having to spend an entire week recovering on Tongatapu (main island) before getting to head back to 'Eua. I was able to spend three days in 'Eua, then I had to return to Tongatapu for In-Service Training. It consisted of ten days of training, with one day off. On our day off we had all planned on boating out to a remote island to spend the day, and naturally, there was a cyclone. By then I was really ready to get back to 'Eua, but they cancelled the flight I was supposed to be on, so I had to stay another day. Ugh. I finally made it back last Thursday, just in time for Api Tonga, which means three days straight of church. (My house had also flooded during the cyclone, and by the time I got back it was moldy, so I spent a few days cleaning that up)
When they told me about Api Tonga on Friday, my first instinct was to try to get out of it, unfortunately I ended up being voted as the noble for the entire event. Which I actually agreed to, albeit unwittingly. I was at the youth group meeting, being a space cadet like usual, when I heard my name and came back to eath to find the entire youth group staring at me. I said, "yes?" to everyone's approving looks. And thus I had committed. I had meant the "yes?" to be as in, "Yes, how can I help you?" or "Yes, you're talking to me?" It was instead taken as an affirmative response. It turns out that all being a noble meant was showing up for everything and sitting at the head spot during the feasts. I proved myself a capable noble. I also got to give my first fakamalo speech (thank-you speech). It was at the first feast, in front of the entire village. These speeches tend to be really long-winded and teary. I opted to keep it short, and they said I did all right, but it would have been better if I had cried. I told them I would work on it for next time.
Api Tonga was capped off yesterday by a final feast and a trip down to the sea, where we all picked the roots of this grass that grows near the sea to make coconut oil with. After that we ventured into the sea at low tide for some fishing. I got stung by a sea urchin. Twice. It really hurt. All in all, it was a great few days though, it was really nice to be able to reconnect with my village after having been gone so long.
The other big news in my life is that I acquired a puppy in Tongatapu. His name is Tahi ("ocean" in Tongan) and he is going to be a big dog. I was a little worried about bringing him back to my village, because in general Tongans don't treat dogs very well. My fears were all dispelled the day after I got back and walked out of church to find Tahi sleeping on a mat, being spooned by one of the twenty-year old rugby players from my village. The next day a boy from the village walked around the corner with Tahi sitting on his shoulders like a two-year old. Everyone slipped him food from the kaipoulas, I could tell by how gaseous he was every night. It seems my village is as smitten with Tahi as I am. He does have a way of finding trouble though; his first day in town he took it upon himself to streak through church right before the service started, causing quite a commotion. I hid around the corner. He also likes to dash right in front of people's feet then stop dead. This is actually pretty funny, until the time he almost laid out one of the oldest ladies in my village. Okay, that was a little funny too. He doesn't listen to a word I say, and when he gets tired he'll find a spot of shade and refuse to move until he's ready. I'll have to work on that.
I was really hoping Tahi would take care of my rat problem, unfortunately I don't think Tahi would move if a rat ran over his nose. And now I can't use the rat trap because I don't want to catch Tahi in it. So I've been up half the night every night since I've been back chasing rats through the tapa cloth, and last night I was so fed up and sleep deprived that I took to the walls with my machete. I missed the rat barely, and put a hole in my tapa, but I did scare him out of the house for a few hours. So I need to get more creative in my rat control techniques.
So it's been quite an eventful month (especially by Tonga standards) between going to the main island, volcanos, earthquakes, tsunami warnings, cyclones, and new puppies. I'm looking forward to things settling down again and returning to teaching. I hope this one finds everyone well, and next time I won't wait so long to send out an update! Toki Sio!