I haven’t really been around much in the last week or so. Last Monday I was in the capital for an Emergency Coordinator meeting. I’m the backup emergency coordinator for Ha’apai now seeing as I’m the only volunteer from group 76 in Ha’apai now. I stayed there until Wednesday morning. It was great being able to see some of the other volunteers which I haven’t seen since swearing in, in December. We went out to an actual bar and had a pretty good time.
By the time I got back on Wednesday it was around lunch time and it was too late for me to teach. I taught Thursday and then it was Friday. I don’t teach on Friday. Friday’s consist of a radio broadcast played over the radio from 9-10 for every primary school in Tonga to listen to. I usually either do some other work while this is going on or use my time more wisely. It’s a waste of time for me to listen to it since it is in Tongan so I did some much needed laundry instead during that hour. Then after the radio broadcast, we have a teacher’s meeting. That lasts about another hour or so. During this whole time all the students are in one classroom where usually someone talks to them. The last two weeks were covered by two of the ministers from a couple of the churches here in Faleloa. After the meeting my day is done. The other teachers do some kind of teaching for about an hour and half, until lunch time. Then at lunch time everyone goes home for the day.
Last Friday Todd, Juleigh, and I went to visit Blair on the next island over for the weekend. Blair lives in a village called Ha’ano. I’ve heard that the island is called Kaovai (I think) but my map says it’s called Ha’ano too so I’m not really sure which one it is. Blair only has electricity in the evenings and I think she has the most remote Peace Corps site in Tonga. It was really fun and relaxing. We watched movies on our laptops until the batteries died and on Saturday Todd and I went fishing with Sela, a really cool Tongan guy in Blair’s village. We also did a lot of reading.
We had planned on getting a boat ride back with the Wesleyan boat on Sunday but we found out that it wasn’t leaving until Monday morning. We really didn’t want to have to get a ride back this morning and then go straight to school to teach. ; Especially Todd and Juleigh because they would have had to get from Faleloa to Pangai as well. We were able to get a really nice guy in the village named Sione to give us a ride yesterday evening. The only problem was that he only had enough gas in the boat to get from Ha’ano to the tip of my island, Foa and back again. This only meant that we had to get a little wet because there was no wharf for us to step on to. It is about a 45 minute boat ride. I wish it wasn’t overcast and raining a bit because I would have loved to take some pictures and a video of the ride. The seas were pretty rough and the tiny boat got moved around quite a bit by some of the waves. Todd struggled a bit with the waves and almost got sea sick. We got soaked getting off the boat because the waves were pretty big on shore and we had to jump off. We were able to get all our bags off without getting wet so nobody lost any electronics or anything.
Today I was back teaching again. I taught for about 3 ½ hours. I was pretty tired after teaching so I ended up taking a nap for a couple of hours in my new armchair which finally arrived a couple weeks back. It arrived 6 weeks after it was suppose to get here. I awoke to the sound of the school push lawn mower and went outside to see what was going on. Saia and Sivi were cutting the end of a running track in the grass in front of the school. Sivi told me that it was for sports day which was on Friday. I had one of those “Ohhh! That’s what they were talking about” moments thinking back to last Fridays staff meeting. I couldn’t really figure out why they were asking me to be in charge of cleaning up the school grounds on Thursday this week. They were working on the round side of the end of the track. It actually didn’t look so bad except for the outside lane which goes through the base of the flag pole. Also the inside lane ended kind of abruptly at a hedge. When I noticed this, the thought also occurred to me, “I don’t remember there being this much space in the hedge so that a running track could fit through it.” There hadn’t been. They had cut down to beautiful shrubs for this track (I’m picturing the gasps of my Dad upon reading that sentence lol)! They also told me that they were going to take out a third one where the inside track was running into it.
They will probably run maybe a few long distance races on Friday. Anything longer than a lap will most likely see most of the runners collapse from exhaustion because they will of course sprint the first part like they would every other race. These shrubs must have been growing for years but I guess that’s the price you have to pay to host a 5-11 year old sports day lol…
Here are the boys sitting together on Friday morning before the radio broadcast for the teachers.
Here are the girls.
Heres everyone. I don't know if you can make him out but if you look at the third boy in from the left in the first row, he is a 5-year old fakalaite-the 3rd gender class in Tonga. His parents didn't have any daughters so he is being raised as a girl to help around the house with cleaning and cooking. He has long hair braided into pigtails.
The new track
Here's a better picture of the new gap in the hedge. You can also notice what the meticulous planning led the the inside lane into.
Here are some pigs getting roasted for a kaipolo. This is a big feast which costs way more than most families can afford. This one was for a 1st birthday which is a big deal in Tonga. this was taken after Cyclone Wilma hit. Notice the windows of the house in the back which are covered with sheet metal to keep the wind and rain out. Most houses do this when cyclones hit.
Roasting Pigs again.
A couple of Sundays ago my neighbors brought this over for lunch. Lobsters here don't have claws but they are covered with pretty spiky shells which making eating a little difficult. It tasted exactly the same though!