At the same time as the King's funeral we had an opportunity to house sit for a Peace Corps staff member who was taking a trip out of Tonga. Wow, we thought: a real kitchen, air conditioning in the bedroom, TV (We never turned it on.), hot showers, and a washer and a dryer. What Peace Corps Volunteer would pass that up?
And it was wonderful, but. After the week was over and we were home again, I realized what I had missed. Yes, we were in Tonga for that week, but it wasn't my Tonga. What I missed most, I realized, were the sounds. At our house, the day is punctuated with familiar sounds of life.
Sione thwacking coconuts with a bush knife to feed the pigs.
Pigs snorting, grunting, and squealing in the yard.
Hens scratching in the dirt and cackling.
Roosters crowing (at all hours of the day and night!).
Churches' bells ringing (some days as early as 5 A.M.).
Women pounding tapa.
Belinda rustling and bustling around her kitchen (as early as 4:30 A.M.), talking to family members, singing hymns.
The neighbor's children singing in the back yard.
Water filling buckets at the sima vai in the yard.
Dogs barking (especially at night!).
This is (my) Tonga!
|Sima vai. Rainwater for our drinking and cooking needs (after boiling and/or filtering).|