Tongablog

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Archive for July 5, 2008

Amazing Day

So, I got to the airport around 8 yesterday and was fine sitting there until 11:30 when the plane arrived, but just before a dog ran out onto the runway and was lackadaisically wandering about.  A couple of guys went out running after it and within just a few moments the plane landed, just missing the hungry hound.  It’s something you don’t see often and a nice change from the norm.

The takeoff was fast and there were only 3 of us onboard with the two pilots.  Within 3 minutes they started circiling just a few hundred feet off the water.  I never saw the whales they apparently did because I was too busy trying not to get sick all over the place from the dardevil acrobatics.

I waited for sometime at the airport for a ride and arrived at home quite happy to see my Kalini.  We did some unpacking and wandering around our new home and neighborhood.  It was nice to see after thinking about our new place for so long.

Yesterday being July 4th, there was a nice party at our directors house.  It commemorated more than the U.S. independance, but also the completion of Director Cornish’s house, his birthday, and the end of COS for group 71.  It was a great time!!  I wish more volunteers could have been there!

Today I got up early and managed to get my Mac working with parts I had sent from home, but sent here to Nuku’alofa instead of Ha’apai because we knew we were moving here anyway.  We have spent the afternoon shopping for all the great foodstuffs that are just unavaliable in Ha’apai like sesame oil, and nice veggies at the market.  It’s amazing to be here and expect many more posts to come because we now have bandwidth!!

Hello Nuku’alofa!

The past week has absolutely flown by at a rapid pace. I left Ha’apai after a two day farewell party hosted by my school. It was unbelievably generous, and an incredibly humbling experience for both Scot and I. Tongans undoubtedly wear their hearts on their sleeves, and honestly seem to love the act of crying. I’m not kidding—Tongans will cry (actually sob is a more accurate word) at the drop of the hat. Needless to say, upon our departure, the tears were flying in abundance. In Tongan culture, giving speeches is highly valued, so of course I had to give a farewell speech to the students and staff at the school. Of course I too got a little choked up, and Scot informed me that everyone seemed extremely pleased (almost gleeful) by my sentiments. I was relieved because I was afraid that my blurry eyes and wavering voice would not be deemed as an adequate display of emotion. An entire table spilling over with goodbye gifts was presented to us, which looked like the inventory of a Tongan handicrafts store. We will always treasure the gifts of tapa cloth (made from the bark of the pandanus tree), weaving, and jewelry. I left Ha’apai feeling very blessed by the opportunity I had to work with such talented, spirited students. Since my time in Tonga is far from over, I am optimistic that I’ll be able to see those students again and visit the little island of Lifuka, in the more remote Ha’apai group. Working with such kids as Funaki, Nafe, Tinalase, Paula, Feo and Siuala made me a better person and I really hope to cross paths with them again. Special thanks to Anne Kendrick and the students of East Cooper Montessori for their pen pal letters, which were thoroughly enjoyed!

I flew to Nuku’alofa solo, because Scot had some training to complete before he joined me. I decided to stay with our dear friends, Laura and Trenton, until Scot arrived. All was well and I was sound asleep in the guest bedroom, when I woke up with an excruciating pain in my foot. In my mind it went something like this.. “foot. Foot. FOOT!!!! FOOT!!!!!! Need ice to stop the stinging. NEED ICE TO STOP THE STINGING!!!!!!! I sprung out of bed and turned out the light, totally confused as to what was causing the horrific pain. And to my utter horror, there it was crawling around in the sheets. A Molokau. What has to be one of the grossest creatures on the Earth. Those of you not living in the South Pacific are probably not aware of Satan’s beast. This creepy crawly thing is kind of a cross between a centipede, scorpion, and small snake (they slither like a snake). They are known for their ridiculously painful stings. And there I was, in the middle of the night, feeling every second of it. I had no idea what to do, and limped to the kitchen for ice. Then I started repeatedly calling Scot, even though he was surely sound asleep on an island approximately 85 miles away from me. I’m not sure what I thought he could do to help the situation. I knew I needed benadryl and ibuprofen, but I didn’t know where Laura and Trenton kept medicine. Scot groggily answered the phone, and convinced me that I had to wake up my hosts. I felt horrible doing it, but quietly knocked on their door. Of course they got right up, found me the medicine, and Trent managed to slay the beast. Even he jumped and yelped a little when he saw the size of it. Let’s just say that I am sleeping with socks on and giving the bed a thorough checking for the rest of my time here.

The following day, I met with the Deputy Principal at Tupou High School. I’ll be teaching Junior and Senior English classes, and possibly a geography class as well. It will be a large leap from my time in the Tongan primary schools, but more along the lines of my teacher certification and initial experience. I was then at the docks until two in the morning, unloading all of our possessions from the boat. That goodness Viliami and Fonua (two Peace Corps staffers) were there to navigate the incredibly hectic and confusing process.

Scot finally joined me yesterday, and we are settling into our Nuku’alofa home.  I have been telling people that it is like a little dollhouse.  It is VERY tiny, but the bathroom and kitchen are inside—so that is nice change. Last night, our Peace Corps Director (Jeffrey Cornish) hosted a 4th of July party at his lovely waterfront home.  It was a blast, but I spent most of my time looking at his photography.  He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Russia, and later went on to work as the Director of Action against Hunger in Uganda and at a refugee camp in the Sudan.  His photography was incredibly powerful and often heart wrenching.  Some of it reminded me of Haiti, but also made Scot and me long to visit Africa.  But for now, we are settled into our Nuku’alofa home and getting ready to start work on Monday!