Wednesday, August 31, 2011


This week there were several exciting celebrations; Ashley’s 24th birthday and the anniversary of Mailefihi Siu'ilikutapu college.

For Ashley’s birthday, I worked with Ashley’s fiancĂ©, Pa, to plan the surprise party. We decided all of the guests would get together and then Pa would bring Ashley when we were ready. Despite the fact that Pa called me twice while he was walking to the party with Ashley, she had no idea and was genuinely surprised. We then enjoyed some yummy cake, chips, chocolates, and biscuits. Ifo aupito!

The other big celebration was our school’s anniversary. It turned out to be an all-day event, and included church, food, music and dancing. We started in the morning with a church service. Several teachers read scripture and hymns, the brass band accompanied the singing, and the President of Education gave the message. Next we moved over to the school hall for the feast. I got lucky and was able to sit at a front table where the honored guests sit. Therefore, I had the best food such as lasagna, pizza, sweet and sour chicken, pasta crab salad and, of course, roasted pig. During the feast there were the usual speeches, but we also had lots of dancing for entertainment. I took part in a group ta’olunga with my class from the catering school. There were also sitting dances, line dances and some disco, too. Quite an exciting day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dad's Visit Part 2

Picking up where I left off last post, dad’s next activity was a dinner at my house. Some of my Tongan girlfriends came over to cook and the two other volunteers from my school, Sean and Ashley, came over, too. We had lots of yummy food like crab salad, beef with pele, papaya, roast chicken, fried rice, and bananas in coconut milk. It was also nice for my dad to meet some of my non-peace corps friends.

Later that evening, we went to see the fakaleiti show. For those of you who don’t know, fakaleitis are Tonga boys who are raised as girls. Some of the boys grow up and begin dressing like men, but others continue to dress and act like women. I convinced my dad to go see the show because it truly is a unique cultural experience.

Thursday was my weekly music class at the kindergarten, always a highlight of the week. Friday another volunteer, Kalo, invited us to a concert for her church. This concert was a fundraiser, so there were lots of prepared dances. Some were to contemporary worship songs and others were traditional Tongan dances. There were also several skits that were very entertaining.

Saturday was our adventure to motu (an outer island). In typical Tongan style, we went to the wharf to find a boat and none of the boats were going to the island we wanted. We shopped around at the market for a while we tried to figure out what to do. Thankfully I spotted someone from the island and asked him if a boat was coming, and he told us one would be coming shortly. After a while the boat came and we were loaded on along with some of the villagers and lots of food for Sunday lunch. We arrived in Nuapapu and went to see Farfum, the peace corps volunteer at that site. Farfum and his principal showed us their school and gave us a tour of their village. I was happy my dad got to see an outer village where life is very different from life in town. The only electricity comes from solar panels and generators, and most people only have water from the rain water tanks. Also, there are no cars, only horses. It makes Transfer seem like a booming metropolis.

Sunday we went to church at the Catholic church with my boyfriend. After church, we had lunch at his house with his family. There was lot of fantastic food and it was fun to eat faka-Tonga; the whole family sitting on the floor.

During dad’s last week here I was teaching, so he spent lots of time helping do things around my house and relaxing. His big project was painting my shower floor…it looks great! He also helped with dishes and laundry, which was much appreciated. Also during the week we played volleyball, went to a baptism, ate at a Tongan restaurant, and went to trivia night. However, I think dad’s favorite part of the week was teaching music at the kindergarten. He taught them a new song, and a McDonald family classic, “Down by the Bay”.

For dad’s last day, we had a lunch that my co-teachers and students prepared at the catering school. It was a nice way for them to say goodbye, and they also generously brought many Tongan gifts for dad to take back to America like jewelry, tapa cloth, fans, and a map of Vava’u. After lunch, dad and I watched some soccer, which was very entertaining. I always got in trouble for laughing at Wesley’s soccer games, but here in Tonga laughter is part of the game. Dad and I had quite a few good laughs during the game. Friday night a few people game over to my house for dinner. Then dad spent his last night listening to the dogs, pigs, and roosters, probably one part of Tonga he will not miss.

Saturday morning it was time to say goodbye. We had our last cinnamon rolls from the bakery for breakfast at the airport, and then dad took off for his long journey back to America. It was hard for me to see him leave, but I take comfort in the fact that I will be returning to America for Christmas this year, and I will have the opportunity to see my whole family. It was awesome having a visitor here, and I hope there will be many more in the future!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dad's Visit part 1

After flying from Cleveland to L.A. to Fiji to Nuku'alofa, my dad arrived here in beautiful Vava'u on July 26th. He came with a suitcase marked "very heavy" and a handful of Tongan words, ready to experience my life here in Peace Corps Tonga.

The first couple days dad was here, we spent a lot of time relaxing, allowing him to adjust to the new time zone. We went to morning assembly at my school and saw some classrooms. We also walked around town, stopping at places like the wharf, the Peace Corps office, and some shops.

Friday was our first adventure...whale watching! Unfortunately, the waters were especially rough which resulted in some people on our boat getting seasick. Thankfully, dad and I took motion sickness pills in the morning and went the whole day without getting sick. We were able to see quite a few whales throughout the day, which was fantastic! We also stopped at an island for lunch and some snorkeling. Some people attempted to get in the water to swim with the whales, but were not successful. Maybe next time!

Saturday we took a trip out to one of the resort islands, Mala. We spent the day kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking around the island. It was a gorgeous day, and gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy the beautiful island.

Sunday was an important day at my church because it was the last Sunday for our boy's head tutor before he leaves for Tongatapu. All the students and teachers attended church, and the school band provided accompaniment for the music. I borrowed some Tongan clothes from my neighbors for dad...he looked great! Sunday afternoon we went for a drive to some beaches on the island and just made it back for the afternoon church service. After church, there was a dinner for the head tutor, so dad experienced a Tongan feast. He tried some raw fish, octopus, and, of course, roasted pig!

Monday was a public holiday, so in the morning we went to one of the lookout points. It was a little bit of a hike, but the view of the cliffs and beaches is well worth it. After that, we went to the beach for a picnic and some swimming. Finally, Monday night we celebrated a volunteer's birthday with some pizza and drinks and a local restaurant.

After a busy weekend, Tuesday we just relaxed and did some laundry. However Tuesday night was a momentous's first time drinking kava! He went to the local police and fire station, enjoying the Tongan music and lots of joking.

Today we hiked to the top of Mt. Talau, the highest point of Vava'u. We saw some fantastic views of Neiafu, the harbor, and the outer islands. It was a little hot, but a nice adventure.

More things to come next week!