Tongablog

Join our adventure in The Kingdom of Tonga

Archive for April, 2009

A snipet of news…

So here were the two main stories in the Nuku’alofa newspaper this week.
1) A man was acquitted by a magistrate Court Judge of a quite horrendous domestic violence charge because his wife “provoked him” into brutally beating her with hedge clippers.
2) A primary teacher, to break up a fight, hit a child 20 times with the leg of a table. Her punishment: buy the kid $50 of candy.

In lighter news, 900 high school athletes (from the islands of Tongatapu, Vava’u, ‘Eua and Ha’apai) competed in Tonga’s 86th Inter-Collegiate Sports Athletic competition this week. Even though I am incredibly un-athletic, it was really inspiring to see the dedication and skill of these students. It was especially humbling (and a bit heartbreaking) to watch dozens of students race and compete in the track and field events with no shoes. Fantastic photos are available at http://www.matangitonga.to/article/sports/other/sports_150409_1806_pf.shtml. My students are the teenagers dressed in the royal blue and white uniforms.  The website gives a real sense of the crowds and energy around the competition. It is truly one of the largest and most festive annual events in Tonga.

We are settling back into our routines here, after our incredible New Zealand vacation. The second school term begins on Monday and Scot is hoping to be involved with a South Pacific Regional Energy Conference that is taking place next week. We put up some more NZ photos under 2009 pictures on this blog. Check them out if you get a chance:)

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Back to Reality…

Well, our New Zealand trip is completed. The weather started clouding over, so we left the hiking trails and headed in for some city life. We had a beautiful view of the harbor and mountains from our room in the capital city of Wellington, but it wasn’t entirely restful because someone pulled the fire alarm in the middle of the night! All the guests had to trek down multiple flights of stairs and stand out in the cold until the fire department cleared the building. Despite that, we did really enjoy Wellington. It has sort of a San Francisco vibe to it. The botanical gardens were amazing and it culminated a really lovely trip. We will update a slide show with more pictures, but I wanted to go ahead and post just a few of my favorites… See below! Now we are back in Tonga. It took a few hours to get re-adjusted. I shrieked at the multitudes of ants and wanted to throw a temper tantrum, remembering that our toilet barely flushes. The following day I walked about two miles to buy an $18 jar of Jif peanut butter. But oddly enough, all of that seems about normal now. The ubiquitous lizard poop, the all hour crowing roosters, the ice cold showers… we are definitely back in Tonga:)

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Happy Travels!

FYI– The South Island of New Zealand is INCREDIBLE!! Just being here makes us feel humbled by nature. We left Lake Tekapo and went over to Aoraki/Mt. Cook. At 3755m, it is the tallest peak in Australasia. The Maori name, Aoraki, means Cloud Piecer. It is absolutely mesmerizing and majestic. Seriously, I could have gazed at that mountain for days on end. Instead, we did an incredible hike thru the Hooker Valley. I really think it was the most beautiful hike I have ever experienced. We also hiked to the Tasman Glacier.. Next, we headed south to the Otago Penninsula. The roads were sosososo curvy, but provided beautiful Pacific views and quientessential rolling green, NZ hills. We stayed in a great little backpackers and then set off on a quest to see the seals, sea lions and penguins. Scot got some great film footage of the marine animals, so we’ll be sure to post it with the photos. Next we drove thru the Catlins regions and did some amazing waterfall hikes. We celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary at Lake Manapouri. I have never seen such a starry sky!! Our cabin at Manapouri was amazing.. we had a little wood burning stove and the most incredible lake view! At night, you could hear nothing except howling deer… I never knew deer howled, but apparently during mating season they get quite boisterous. We took a boat cruise down Doubtful Sound in Fiordland.. The boat was a bit crowded for our tastes, but still really incredible. Then we headed to Queenstown. It is a darling little town (nestled in between massive mountains and Lake Wakatipu) that reminded us of Vail or Aspen, Colorado. We caught up some with a girlfriend from Charleston who is living there, and I ate one of the best meals of my life. Venison!! Today we crossed the Haast Pass. The mist on the hills reminded us of the Smokey Mountains, but these mountains are much larger. We reached the Tasman Sea and will go see Fox and Franz Glaciers tomorrow. Nowhere else at this latitude do glaciers come so close to the ocean. The Maori legend behind them tells of a girl losing her lover who fell from the peaks, and her flood of tears froze into the glacier. After the Glaciers, we aren’t sure where we will explore next. We fly back to Tonga on April 13, and are truly enjoying every second we are spending here!! But we do miss our friends and family and hope all is well. Thanks so much for following our adventures:)

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