Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

LA to Fuamotu, Tongatapu Tonga

Hi everyone! I hate to send a big ole mass email, but I just wanted to let you all know that we finally made it to the Kingdom of Tonga! The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind. We had our two day orientation in Los Angeles, after a fantastic weekend visit with my sister, Anne. We also got to see Elizabeth and her husband and their beautiful new baby in LA, which was a treat:) Our Peace Corps group consists of 33 people, including 5 married couples. There is a huge spectrum in age, backgrounds, etc, but we all instantly had a connection. After all of the build-up of going into this, it was refreshing to meet a large group of people who not only did not think moving to Tonga was insane, but also made the same decision! The flight was the longest flight of my life– over 12 hours!!! We crossed the international date line, and are a full day ahead of the states. I have absolutely no idea what time it is at home! The current PC volunteers all enthusiatically met us at the airport, which made us all feel very welcomed. Okay, we just figured out that we are 17 hours ahead of NYC and Charleston. How bizarre!! So we met the PC office staff and some of the volunteers, and had an authentic kava ceremony as a greeting. It involved chanting in Tongan, and preparing the Kava root by grinding it with a large rock and mixing it with water, and drinking it. Then we got to see traditional Tongan dance, with the authentic clothes, etc. Quite frankly, our heads are spinning. I don’t even know how to describe everything adequately. But we feel very safe, and happy, and excited about the coming adventure. Tomorrow we go to our first homestay, on the main island. We will be there for 3 weeks, and then we go to a homestay for 6 weeks on an outer island. The further island is a 22 hour boat ride from where we are now!! I’m a little nervous about the homestay, but we are optimistic and thankful for the opportunity to be emmersed in Tongan culture. We start our official language lessons tomorrow… Just to let you know, communication with the states seems like it will be quite difficult– at least at first. We are at the “fast” internet cafe right now, and it is unbelievably, painfully slow. Scot wasn’t even able to get the internet to come up. So if you don’t hear from us, please know that we are thinking about you all and we are doing great!!
Much love,
Karen and Scot

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