Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Away to 'Eua!

 Once again on the trail of the whales, we went to 'Eua on August 13. There were six of us, plus two more passengers on our 8-minute flight on Saturday morning. Yes, 8 minutes. It was full of wonder, though, as we viewed Tongatapu from the air, saw whales beneath us in the ocean, and approached 'Eua. We landed on a grass landing strip. A smooth and delightful flight! 

 We were met by people from The Hideaway where we were staying, and made a quick trip there to leave our luggage. Then it was off to find the whales. Our captain, Kathleen, was determined to find them for us. What a thrill when we finally began to see them far off and sped in their direction. As soon as we got close, two of us (not me or Jim!) got into the water to swim with them. We thought they had left, but Jim got a lucky shot of David swimming with a whale. Success! No videos I had seen, or photos, can ever do them justice when you see them swimming nearby.  Truly gentle giants.
'Eua's harbor.

A wave of the tail.
 That evening we had reserved a dinner with Wolfgang, who works with Deep Blue Diving. He has made a clay/cement outdoor oven housed in a rough outdoor kitchen. We were ready for his special wood-fired pizza.  It was plentiful and delicious. (Now I'm ready for our own outdoor oven when we go home. Take note!)
The oven, and it's red hot!

Ready to bake! And we were ready to eat!

Wolfgang does the honors.
 On Sunday morning we enjoyed the view of the ocean from The Hideaway, watched whales, walked down to the lookout by the ocean, and just enjoyed being there. By afternoon, though, we were ready for a hike. Perhaps we'd see the 'Eua parrots? After a 15-minute 4-wheel drive transport, we were dropped off with a (sketchy!) map of the area and directions to look for the "blue ribbon." The ground was muddy and full of clay. Walking was a challenge, but we certainly saw some great sights in 'Eua's rainforest, and the fact that it's mountainous was a revelation. Tongatapu, our island, is so flat. We found out later that the elevation is 300+ meters. We heard parrots, and Jim and Jinnet saw one, briefly. The views and the vegetation were outstanding. We did get to the lookout, our destination, but the weather was deteriorating, as we headed back to get picked up. Very tired, but so glad we went.
A relaxing breakfast.

The walk down to the ocean from The Hideaway.

This tree caught our attention on the hike.

Jim at the lookout.

View from the lookout.

We had to get up at 3:30 the next morning to be off by 4 A.M. to catch the ferry to get a "good" seat. The ferry left at 5. It was packed, by then, with people everywhere. The swells of the waves were hitting the side of the boat, so it was like being on a ride at the fair for a while. It was close to 8 A.M. when we got back to Nuku'alofa and had breakfast at Fresh Cafe. We stopped at the Market to get a few vegetables for the rest of the week and went home to sort out our many unforgettable memories (and dirty laundry).
View of Tongatapu from the ferry.

Coming into Nuku'alofa's harbor.

Monday, August 8, 2011

TIST (Tonga Institute of Science and Technology)

 Written by Jim.

Tongan Institute of Science and Technology (TIST), a tertiary  school under the direction of the Ministry of Training, Education, Youth, and Sports (MOTEYS).

A view of TIST. Students gather under the cupola in their free time.

TIST was originally started with the help of the German government as Fokololo 'o e Hau  or the Maritime Polytechnic Institute. Since then it has expanded to include a School of Agriculture, a School of Hospitality and Tourism,  and a School of Engineering  and Construction.

I am currently working in the School of Engineering and Construction in the Department of Carpentry and Joinery. This department awards a nationally accredited Trade Certificate in Carpentry after completing 36 - 38 weeks of  classroom work and 3-plus years of on-the-job training in the building industry.

Students start their studies with 13 weeks of  theory and practical assessment before  spending the next  year working in industry. They then return to school to receive more advanced theory in two more 13-week sessions separated by another year working, until they have studied and worked for a total of 8000 hours.

My Counterpart, Folau, and students.

Jim observes students using the planer.

Jim and students building a door.

The course of study is built on the Tongan, Australian, and New Zealand Building Codes. Topics covered usually start with the foundation of a building and work the way up to the roof and then onto the interior. The teaching of safety is always  stressed it each section.

First year students start, after an extensive introduction to the proper use of tools and safe techniques in the use of power tools, to build in theory a simple structure on columns or piers with a simple rafter roof. We don't actually build this house just the parts, due to the cost of lumber in Tonga, the same timber is used over and over for each part of our house. The building codes and safety are always stressed, and each student must show that he or she is competent in each step. This is done with written work, technical drawing, demonstration of practical skills, and one on one discussion with the instructors.

Second and Third year students are introduced to more and more complicated structures, materials, and techniques. New topics include reinforced concrete, form work, trussed rafters, doors and windows, moldings, interior stairs, and some discussions on commercial buildings.

Graduation held at Queen Salote College Hall, July, 2011.

Graduates and guests.


My Counterpart, Folau, and students under the mango tree playing a game of draughts.