Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Relatives Came

It was the middle of June, and we had had a huge rainstorm earlier in the week, leaving a lot of mud and large puddles. But now the weather was good--not too hot and humid, for it's the beginning of winter, and everything was drying up. It was evening and we were at the airport to meet a plane with three of our relatives, the first (and only) ones to make the long and costly trip. Thoughts raced through my brain--Were they really on the plane? What would they think of Tonga and our life here? How would the visit go? I was excited and full of anticipation, with a touch of nervousness mixed in. Then there they were, coming out the doors to greet us. The relatives came!

Making it official--here they are!

Tasman's Landing.
With our guide at the natural land bridge.

Blowhole power and beauty.

Tasman's Landing

Feasting at 'Oholei.

At Marco's Pizza Pasta.

Ready for church.
Relaxing at Pangaimotu.

Pangaimotu beachcombing.
Church conference dinner.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Want to play chicken?

Well, it's called moa in Tongan, and I bet it's not what you think. It's a form of....jacks! I don't see it being played on the playground too often, but I started asking some form 1 girls about the game and they obliged with showing me all the different levels and rounds. I love seeing games (like Tongan checkers) that have a connection to games we know.

Moa is played with 5 small stones, all about the same size. The way you throw them and catch them makes the game. Like jacks, it starts out easy and the moves get progressively more difficult. They begin by throwing up a stone and picking up another and catching the stone they threw. Then it's 2, etc. The last rounds are really tricky as they catch the stones on the back of the hand and have to let one drop between the fingers, the next time 2, etc. They're really fast and good at it, so I had to ask them to show me several times. Great fun! Here's the way the rounds were told to me:
Fakato (hatching)
Hapohapo (like juggling)
Fetongitongi (changing rock)
Fakato 4
Tupe (throwing up the rocks and landing on the back of the hand)
Puaka (fingers get stretched out. With the rocks on the backs of the hand they are dropped between fingers.) Puaka, by the way, means pig.

Maybe a few photos will help:

Beginning round.

Taking turns with the rounds of moa.

Tupe, back of the hand.

Puaka, between the fingers.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A first, but not the last!

There we were entering the grounds of the Queen Salote College Hall on the morning of June 9, 2012, and you could feel the excitement and joy in the bustle of the people all around. It's not often you can say you went to a "first." This was the scene for the 1st. USP (University of the South Pacific) graduation to be held in Tonga. Prior to this if you wanted to attend your ceremony you had to go to Fiji, the main campus. This, of course, is expensive both in money and time. Also, you probably went alone, if you went at all. The Tonga USP Campus, however, is growing, and now they were to have their own graduation ceremony.

Helping a family member get ready.

Greeting friends and relatives before the ceremony.

 Knowing that a friend and fellow PCV could get us tickets, we gladly said we'd like to go. In one way it was the usual graduation--band, processional, music, choir, speeches. His Serene Highness Prince Tungi was the guest of honor. 

The Guest of Honor presides.

The choir sings.
It was when the degrees were conferred that it was special. To have the families and friends there. As each name was read and the graduands came across the stage, all paid attention and applauded. One young man immediately took his diploma to his family who were seated a few rows in front of us, and gave it (we thought) to his grandmother. What a moment! What a celebration! A member of the staff where Jim teaches received his MBA and we could give him our congratulations. It was a memorable 1st, and the 1st of many.

Jim's coworker receives congratulations.

A fellow Peace Corps Volunteer and her colleagues.