Wednesday, October 20, 2010
One week ago we landed on Ha’apai. When the plane took off again we had to wait until it left to go on our way. They close the road so the plane can use the runway and have a long enough one to go. That was my first aha! moment. There have been many. A week full of firsts and new ways of doing things.
I’ll talk about the food today. Our host family gives us wonderful food. We have ika (fish) often that has been freshly caught and cooked. (We asked that we not have it served raw, though that is the way the people here really like it. They serve it with coconut milk and vegetables. Our neighbor PCT loves it that way.) We often have it cooked with vegetables, or, my favorite way lu ika, which is taro leaves wrapped around fish and cooked in an umu (outdoor oven made with hot lava rocks in a fire pit and then covered with banana leaves). We often have moa (chicken). Our host mother bakes delicious bread, and we even have peanut butter. Today for lunch we had a banana—what flavor! I do miss “real” coffee. We get instant, and I’m coming to love it, too. Once in a while we can go to the Peace Corps staff house and get coffee made with a French press. Heaven.
Mangoes are coming into season, as is pineapple. Yum!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
This week I’ve learned to make lu and get moa (chicken) ready for the umu. It’s cavity is filled with onion and other vegetables, coconut milk is poured over it, and it’s wrapped in banana leaves.
I’ve also had a lesson in mat weaving. I have an even bigger appreciation for the work and time it takes. They are a work of art! The weaving of these mats is one way women help to earn money for their household. They are sold to Tongans overseas, and there is great jubilation when one is sold. They are large and cost a lot of money. Usually several women will work on one together.
Jim was able to help plant banana plants in our host family’s garden in the next village. They take young plants off an old tree and plant them so they will mature. Our family has a vegetable garden in the backyard, as well as a “plantation” on the outskirts of this village for other foods.