So yesterday I was suppose to travel to the capital, Nuku’alofa, for a meeting. I’m one of the two volunteers in Ha’apai who are on the VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee). The purpose for VAC is to discuss policies, any complaints or opinions from the volunteers, and to talk about how Peace Corps Tonga can better support the volunteers here (I think that’s what we do, this was my first VAC meeting).
Peace Corps had told me earlier in the week that my flight would take off at 5:10 PM on Thursday. I would arrive in Nuku’alofa around 6:30ish and the meeting would be the next morning. Then I would fly back to Ha’apai Saturday morning.
I had been looking forward to this very much. I knew I would be coming back to the capital after a month so when we were sworn in, I held off on buying some supplies for my house because I knew I would be coming back and that I would have more money in a month’s time to buy them. Also I wanted to buy some food and cooking supplies because we have a terrible selection of food and cooking supplies here in Ha’apai. On top of this I was looking forward to the meeting too. However the thing I was looking forward to the most was being able to hang out with all the other volunteers and go out in Nuku’alofa. All the volunteers from group 75 (last year’s group) were in Nuku’alofa all week for their Mid-Service Training.
So Thursday rolls around and it’s raining again like it has been doing all week. I pack up my clothes and other random things I was bringing and put them in plastic bags so the rain doesn’t get at them. I rode my bike into town (about a 50 minute ride) because I needed to get money out of the bank, go to the post office, and do some other quick errands. As I’m riding into town I had to stop at the airport runway which you cross on your way to town because a plane was taking off. I stood there for 15 minutes or so and watched. I assumed the plane was heading to Vava’u since I don’t think usually more than one flight goes to Tongatapu per day. This was about 1:30ish. I went to town and did what I had to do and ate some lunch. At 4 I hitched a ride to the airport. I got there and the place was literally empty. The two gates were shut using copper wire twisted into knots to hold them shut. I opened a gate and went in. The terminal was empty and not a soul could be seen. Literally nobody at all. No baggage guys, no other passengers, no air plane, nobody. I didn’t initially give up complete hope that my flight was cancelled because I still had an hour to take off and it’s Tonga so I wouldn’t be surprised if people showed up late. I call Peace Corps and tell them nobody is here. They told me that that I would be called back after they looked into it. About 10 minutes later I got a call back saying that the airline (the only one in the country) had changed the flight without notifying them and that there was no flight today.
Remember the plane that I watched take off earlier in the day? That was my goddamn flight. I could have easily made it. Anyway they tell me that they were going to try and get me on the 9:30 flight the next morning so I can still make the meeting. I think fair enough, this sucks but whatever, at least I’ll be there tomorrow. I head back to town to crash at another volunteers house in Pangai because it would be a bitch to have to go all the way back to my village and then come out again the next morning. It was still raining and I had left my bike in Pangai. The airport is only a couple miles from Pangai, if that.
So I get back into town and I get another call from Peace Corps. They decided that since it was going to be cutting it close to making the meeting and since it might rain the next day and the flight might get delayed, they weren’t going to fly me in. So there I was in Pangai, soaking wet, with my packed bag, and I had to head home. Needless to say I was pretty pissed. I ended up getting home around 7pm, about 7 hours after I left. Also it lightly drizzled today for a little bit. It was a beautiful day.
I find it pretty suspect that the airline would just change the flight and not notify Peace Corps. Especially since, as I previously said, I was literally the only person at the airport when I showed up. Not a single other passenger was not notified. How was I the only one to not know? Is it not somebody’s job to check these things???