Friday, July 3, 2009

"Everyone needs a fakaleiti"- Krystal

Tahi looking guilty (above)
A cave on the beach (below)
On the cliffs above the beach
We brought a pot to cook mussles and/or snails in

The group on the cliffs
Katie, me, Ashley
This one's from the hurricane actually, it flooded the yeard of the guesthouse we were staying at, but we had fun with it
In a cave

It's Tonga Moments of the Week:

-I attended an HIV/AIDS workshop that was held in my village. Because my village is so small, the workshop was just held in someone's living room. In the middle of the condom demonstration, I look up to see one of my class six boys sitting in the doorway, watching the whole thing. There are two more of my students (classes 2/3) looking in through the window. No one else seems bothered by this, and they sit in and watch the entire thing.

-I was sitting in my house with my neighbor Elizabeth last week and I asked her what she had done the day before. She told me that she had made tuitui with her Mom, Lupe. Not sure what that was, I asked. She ran next door and came back with a lumpy, paste-y mass and handed it to me. She instructed me to rub it all over my face. I was skeptical, but it smelled really good, so I figured why not? As I was rubbing it on my face (it felt great!) I asked her how she had made it. Again she ran next door, and this time returned with some roots and leaves. She peeled on of the roots and stuck it in her mouth, along with a few of the leaves. "oh, neat!" I thought, "it's edible too!" I went to taste some of the root, but Elizabeth stopped me with an alarmed look on her face. "Watch" she instructed. She finished chewing thoroughly, then spat the mashed up root and leaf into her hand and began to rub it on her face. My stomach sank, I couldn't breathe for a second. I looked at the lump in my hand, "Did you chew this?" I asked. "No!" she replied. I let out a sigh of relief. It was premature. "Lupe did!" I just started laughing, because what else can you do? Elizabeth joined in, but she didn't seem to understand what was funny, she was just being polite. After Elizabeth left, I washed my face. It did smell really good.

It's been a busy month here in Tonga; although the last two weeks have been school break, things haven't seemed to slow down at all. A couple of friends, Katie and Chad, came down from Vava'u (the northernmost island group in Tonga) and stayed with me a few days. While they were here we tried to stay on out feet as much as possible. We went hiking in the rain forest one day, then the next two days we went camping at my favorite beach, Fangatave. As it turns out, they are excellent cooks, so I got to eat really well for a couple days! One night we made veggie pasta, and another night we made fish tacos.

Camping was a lot of fun, in addition to Katie and Chad, there was a couchsurfer here from New York, a scuba dive instructor from Japan, another PCV from Ha'apai, and Ashley, Jason, and I. When night fell we went on a nighttime cave-exploration adventure which was neat, there are really neat caves to explore all over the island. The next day we all rallied and spent the morning cleaning up the beach, and made some really interesting finds. One time at the base of one of the cliffs Jason actually found a human jawbone, but nothing that interesting this time. We ended up with piles of rubbish all along the beach that we had planned on burning on our way out, but it turned out to be too wet to burn anything. So now there are piles of trash all along the beach which looks worse than when we got there and it was all spread out. We're trying to get something together where we work with the youth to get a beach cleanup program started, so hopefully more to come on that.

Katie and Chad took off back to Vava'u Monday morning, but the rest of us got together and had a little birthday dinner for my birthday. Jason made pizzas- a sea bass pizza, a fried egg pizza, and an eggplant and cabbage pizza. I'm usually a cheese and pepperoni-type gal, but it's been so long since I've had pizza, they were amazing! I hadn't really been too excited about my birthday here (I would have just as soon forgotten about it) and I definitely wasn't planning on doing much, but it turned out to be a great evening with everyone around. One of my neighbors also knew it was my birthday and brought me a cake, which was a nice surprise. So overall a really great birthday.

The next day I went horseback riding to the cliffs on the northern coast of 'Eua which was beautiful. Pretty soon the whales will be coming through and you can see them playing right off the coast, so everyone's looking forward to that. We are all planning on going out when the whales come and swimming with them which sounds pretty exhilarating. Ashley and I are considering investing in a horse to ride around the island for the rest of the time we're here, so we're asking around about that. We both think it would be worth it!

The week before school let out was especially busy, I tested all my kids on their progress so far, then had to write up report cards for all of them. I only have 37 students, but I had to write the reports in Tongan, which made it tough. The first week of break I still taught class 5/6 (they continued to have class in the mornings in preparation for their exams at the end of the year) since their regular teacher went to Tongatapu for a conference. It was pretty informal and fun, one day I took them on a walk to town with their notebooks and we wrote down all the things they didn't already know, such as: barbed wire, litter, fence, etc. and practiced using the words in sentences. It was fun. School starts again on Monday, which I'm actually looking forward to. After testing the kids I've identified a few things I really want to focus on and hit hard this next term, especially for the kids that will be taking the class 6 exam.

Things are going really well here; there are definitely bouts of missing home and those modern comforts which I used to take for granted like a hot shower, but just about every day I feel like I've lucked out getting to be here. I am learning new things on a daily basis, which I think is fun. Staying busy has been key, although that's not always the easiest thing to do around here! It's always exciting to hear news from family and friends, so shoot me an e-mail! Cheers!

1 comment:

The Young Family said...

I am enjoying reading your blog. I am from the Seattle area. Thank you for all the great info on Tonga. In Vavau, near the Neifu village do the kids speak english? We are looking at a B&B there. Trying to figure out all the logistics... My email is if you don't mind emailing me I would appreciate it. We are looking at buying a b&b in Vavau 3 km from Neifu. Hopefully I spelled the town correctly! Thank you.