Sunday, January 30, 2011

First Day of School

John and Josie were very excited about their first day of school!

It is a beautiful day here so Derrick and I walked them to school, it is only a 10 minute walk from town.

Both of the kids were up early and were taking showers and eating breakfast with out any fussing!

Summer break has been lots of fun with lots of beach combing and snorkeling.

Here is John on "Boxing Day" - Dec 25th - notice the long curly hair.... he wanted to cut it short for school, so the curls are gone.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Ring in 2011!!

Happy New Year to you all!

We were one of the first Countries to ring in the New Year this year! Kiribati beats Tonga by a couple of hours I think!

We had a blast. All the ex-pats got together down at a local bar for some New Year's drinks and much needed catching up. I am not sure exactly how many people were there, my guess is around 30. Many countries were represented including; India, Canada, United States, New Zealand, Australia, England, Sweden, Fiji, and Italy ...

To live on an island is interesting to say the least... it is island time and things get done, well when they get done. You just go with it. Crazy people live on islands, I have gathered! Well I moved to an island so that puts me in the crazy catagory too!!
So to have ex-pats here makes it even more interesting! The American are known as being arrogant and stupid. This is great isn't it? So the stereo type precedes you before you open your mouth. It is actually quite comical at times. I had someone from Austria ask me when the WWII started, I responded by asking this question; "Would you like to know when it actually started or when the US was involved?". The gal that asked me that just smiled, and said "oh so you know it was happening before the US was bombed." I just smiled and said yes I do know a bit about world history.
Just a few thoughts on "being the newbies" in town! Guess I need to ramp up on my World History!

Let's see back to New Year's . One bar down and on to another. They literally closed the bar we started at and said, everyone up to the Balcony for drinks and dinner! So off we went to ring in the New Year at the Balcony Bar and restaurant. I started 2011 off right with a nice grilled fish salad! Yummy!

After we did the New Year's countdown and had our first New Year's kiss we went dancing down at the Harbour @ a place called Mermaids. Very fun time. Lots of people dancing and having fun!

Everything is in walking distance here - so after the dancing we walked back to town - to settle in from exhaustion. Really don't remember the last time I was up dancing at 2 am!

Great time with great new friends, Happy New Year!

A little about the Tongan culture, at 10 pm every church in Tonga is packed full! They go to church from 10pm - until midnight. At midnight the churches get out. The people either go home to bed or they go and drink until they pass out in the middle of the road. The majority of people go home.... however to see people passed out in the street is well not unheard of at all! It is new Year's after all, that happens every where in the world.

The next day the villages come together and prepare food for everyone in the village, Tongan's are all about family and this is one of the ways they show it!

I didn't know about the feasts, and attempted to go to the market on the 30th, stores are closed on New Year's eve and New Year's day. I did manage to get some chicken, but not with out a a lot of elbows being thrown at me! (I heard over and over "palangi", "palangi" , meaning foreigner. Very serious about food here - you don't mess with food! It's all good, I maybe skinny now in the Tongan's eyes, but I can hold my own in line! (Not as easy as it seams with 280-350 pound women on all sides of you!) Most of the time the Tongan people will bend over backwards to help you, just in the case of running low on food, it is a different story!

We didn't starve over the weekend, it is all good!

Next post will be of Josie's 6th B-day!! Our little girl is growing up!

Not getting photos to post right now, but atleast you have an update!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Been a while since I have blogged. Internet connection can be very frustrating here.

Where to begin....

after 5 months we have real electricity in our home! (Before we were running an extension cord from the neighbors)

House is finished, small details left to do, but as we are on island time, it will gone done... eventually.

John and I snorkeling at 'Enio beach. this beach is beautiful! They also have a botanical gardens there as well, we have not yet gone to the gardens.

Kids are now officially on summer break - weird that it is December and it is hot and sunny here! Although I am very much enjoying it.

Kids could kind of swim when we came.. but are really turning into fish now! Josie wouldn't go into the water by herself, and she is now snorkeling! So proud of her.

My goal is to start blogging more, so you should see some more posts from me!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dancing and Singing

Most weekends at the market a village will come out or church group and sing and dance to entertain and "preach" at the people visiting the market.
This past week was our villages' week. So the kids at the village spent most nights up at the local hall so that they would all be ready for the big day of dancing. John, Josie and Detrix got asked to go!

Can you find them in the picture?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wedding Tongan style

We were invited to the minister's wedding in our village. The minister has only been in the village for 1 1/2 and is marrying a lady from the next village over. We were very happy to be invited to the wedding and feast. The night before the wedding the women decorated the church with beautiful flowers, and white clothes.The bride is in front, the man in white is the minister... don't know who the man in blue is!
Note: Behind the couple is a cement water tank it hold approx 10,000 Liters of rain water. The church has 3 of them and they are public water. Right now are village has no well water - the well was contaminated with salt water when the cyclone hit last year. The entire village is dependent on rain water.

The weddings here take place on Tue or Thursday, there is a party after the ceremony. Then the bride and groom go back to their seperate homes until Sunday when they present the bride at church and have a small ceremony. Sunday after the feast and ceremony the bride and groom then go to the house they will live in together.

Due to this wedding being the minister - nearly every family in the two villages prepared a table... In Tonga the more you have on your table the bigger status you have so the people literally spend an entire weeks salary or more preparing a table for others to eat at! The picture at the right is Maka, with the pig he killed for the feast. This was his own pig, and one of the bigger pigs he has.

The villagers also collected money over the past couple of months and purchased a couple of cows to eat at the feast. The following pictures are of the cows hanging from the trees after they were killed, and then the umu (underground oven) that they cook all the meat and vegetables in. The vegetables here are mainly sweet potatoes and taro leaves. Taro leaves are close to tasting like spinach.
I went up with Derrick to where they were preparing the meat. They were very happy to have me take pictures, I then realized there were no women at all near the umu or any of the slaughtered pigs and cows. I was quick and taking pictures then I left the men to cut up the meat and prepare the pigs and cow for the feast the next day! Derrick was invited to stay and he sat and drank kava (local plant root) and cut up cow.
The picture is of some of the men in the village who dug the umu. It was atleast 6' deep and 10' long! I think a total of 2 cows, 5 pigs, other various animals and all the sweet potatoes went into the umu to cook overnight.

The amount of food on each table was over whelming! Each table had on it; of oti ika (oh-tie-ee-ka) it is a raw fish in coconut juice with tomatoes and lime juice. Sweet and sour chicken, deep fried chicken, lu (corned beef wrapped in taro leaves) regular fish, chicken chow mein, mussels, clams, lobster and then in front of us was a whole cooked pig. I would guess there was over 300 people there from both villages. I must say my favorite thing to eat is the oti ika.... before coming here I had never tried raw fish, no sushi, nothing, but I wanted to try eveything when we moved here.. now it is one of my favorite things to eat!

We had a great time at the wedding and feast, I might still be full from all the food!

The last picture is of just one side of all the tables, there was a whole other group of tables set up to the right.

Monday, August 02, 2010

What a beautiful view we get to look at every day!

Yesterday was the King's birthday. Because it is a royal holiday everything was closed, after a brief trip into town, then realizing everything was closed, we did what anyone does on an island, piled everyone in the car and went snorkeling at the beach!

The kids played for a few hours in the water - it was perfect!

What do you get at the end of a rainbow? We got three wonderful children! We had a really nice wind and rain storm on Saturday night, right before the rain storm we looked off of the back porch and saw a rainbow. There are people in the background collecting mussels, they must not have known to dig under the rainbow to find the pot of Gold! We have already found the pot of gold, with the three kids!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "torch is coming"

So I while back we had big news in town that the Olympic Torch was coming through town. All kids went to town (instead of school) and lined the streets waiting for the torch to arrive. We had a few conversations about why the Olympic Torch would be touring around the world now, didn't the Olympics just take place?

We arrive at 9am and we purchase the country's flag for each child... The teachers then begin instructing the children that they are to stand on the sidewalk and proudly wave the flag when the torch comes by.

At 9:30 am we hear the plane fly over, this will be a while... the torch is coming from the airport to town a 15 minute drive. They will be running, ok we figure give them an hour, hour and a half... we will then see the torch. Over the next 3 hours we would continually go through a drill every 20 minutes or so of someone yelling, "here it comes!" All kids would then run to their designated spot and proudly hold out the flag. Minutes later we would be told, it was a false alarm. Pretty comical really. After 3 1/2 hours we finally see the torch coming. We were standing next to a gal from Austria and some other Americans we all wanted to know what torch was coming, it was not the Olympic Torch!

We found out it was the Common Wealth games torch! The next half hour the people from England, and Canada had to explain that the Common Wealth games take place with countries associated with England. (This is what was explained to me... if it is different, sorry I still don't know much about the Common Wealth Games!)
Can you see the torch? Definitely not the Olympic Torch!

The funniest part of the whole day: When the torch finally came - all kids ran from the sidewalk and crowded in the street. The people holding the torch (not an actual torch at all) were walking not even trying to run! Too funny.