This is a journal entry from last week…
Today we continued our lessons at Tasi’s house. My Tongan is coming along pretty well. I can say the basics and I can sometimes get the gist of what someone is saying to me if they speak slowly enough. After lunch we had to dress in black because we were going to the next village over, where a man had just died. In Tonga, when someone dies in your village, everyone wears black from the time he dies until 3 days after he is buried. If you were very close the deceased, such as a son or wife, then you would wear black for a year. Some widows even wear black until the day they die.
We finished for the day and then headed to the beach. We stayed there for a good two hours (My tan is coming along nicely). After the beach we headed back home. Across the street from my house is a small field where there were men playing some touch rugby. Seeing as my dinner wasn’t ready yet, I joined them. They gave me the ball to punt to kick off the game and I’m pretty sure they were expecting me to screw it up because after I gave it a decent kick, they all seemed generally impressed. I played barefoot which is a testament to my new-found and slightly surprising lack of concern towards dirty and would-be-frowned-upon-things-in-America, here in Tonga (Couldn’t really think of a good word to put there). The field was uneven, there were shards of glass here and there, and it was scattered with crap from whatever animal had been grazing in it.
I’m also relaxing my eating habits. At home I would never eat dark meat or any fat or bones. Here I’m eating pork straight off a roasted pig’s body on the table in front of me, that still has his eyes and hooves. I regularly get chunks of bones in my meals and meat with no fat on it is a rarity. It helps too that Lei’s cooking is delicious. The other day at Faikava, I tried to say that Lei’s cooking was delicious after I was asked, “How is the food?” I said, “Lei Ifo” which means “Lei (the wife of Laukau) is delicious, not Lei’s cooking is delicious. The men all thought that was hilarious and laughed as I repeated it a few more times thinking that they were pleased with my language skills. I only realized my mistake after one of the men explained it to me. I still haven’t lived it down and I get asked how’s Lei’s cooking is every time I go to Faikava.