Kotoni up early to iron… Was an iron here which is good as they cost about $70 to buy… A toaster can set you back $150. Seems mad when we can buy them in Australia for $10… I think we can live without toast! Landlady Saane popped over with a hand of bananas and some fefe (fried banana doughy balls) which were yummo… We are going to have to keep up some exercise or we will end up Tongan in more ways than one! Town is about a 15 min walk and the college 25 minutes… May get a bit faster when it is cooler. Had a lovely meeting with the cookery staff then caught a taxi home it was so hot! Walked into town for fish and chips… Quite bizarre: we had an address which ended up at a guest house… No problem… We jumped into a car and they drove us to the fish and chip restaurant nightclub… Five bouncers on the door reggae music and bob Marley images everywhere. Sat on the balcony… The only ones there. Food was good… Fish chips and a sausage for $6AUS pp. grabbed an icecream on the way home… Must from NZ as yumbo.
Ufa aupito (very hot) hot last night and all day today. Walked into town for a session on governance by Poleti CEO of Internal affairs who had just flown in from New York where he had been at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women annual update. He was extremely interesting sharing information on the history of the royal family and telling us about the various roles of the king, nobles and commoners.
Every Tongan-BORN boy (Palangi – foreigner or local Tongan) turning 16 is given land either in town or a plantation plot to grow food. The eldest son inherits the family home and plantation. This keeps land within families for perpetuity. Some unsuspecting overseas buyers have bought what they thought was freehold land in Tongan only to find they own nothing as land cannot be bought and sold under law. The family kinship relationships are quite intriguing and the roles of the nobles and royals is unique to Tongan society,’. The eldest sister has special status in the family which also carries certain obligations including always providing food for the family. After a tofu and panini lunch at cafe escape we had our final orientation session a the women and children’s crisis centre run by Ofa.
Drinks at the Dateline Hotel before garlic/camembert mushrooms and pizza at Marcos (we knew half the guests so are starting to feel very local). Walk home to be greeted by tin tin: Saanes dog who seems to have adopted us… Maybe Kotoni giving him leftover pizza has helped build this love! The other dogs come under the very ‘Tonga’ names of- Rasta, Noodles and Mullet…a motley crew if ever there was one.
Off to the fish and flea market at 7.30 before it gets too hot. Bought a lovely big snapper about 2.5kilos for about $12 Aus. Luckily I brought my fishmonger with me!!! Also picked up a couple of loose cotton tops for a couple of dollars. Spent rest of day in true Tongan style primarily sleeping but also reading and listening to podcasts (Richard Fidler ABC) under the fan to escape the heat. Saane came over and invited us to dinner as she’d made lu (tinned corned beef meat wrapped in taro leaves and coconut cream- a bit of an acquired taste).
Rage was on morning TV followed by a rerun of Q&A… So we will be able to keep up with Aussie politics (if we can bear it!) via TV.
We BOTH got frocked up (Kotoni in his black tupanu/skirt and a borrowed ta’ovala/mat) and went to Saane’s Tongan constitutional church… A breakaway from one of the others. The singing is so melodious and uplifting even if the service is all in Tongan it is a nice quiet contemplative time as long as you take a fan.
Back to Saane’s for lunch… Taro, breadfruit, chicken, pippies, ‘ota’ika (raw fish in coconut milk) and cucumber. We went home with the usual bag of extra food that Saane tends to insist upon.
There is an evangelical happy clapping singing church right next door to us… The evening congregation is more in tune than the morning mob! Saane has a current court case with them because they had loud speakers and were too loud for the neighbourhood. If they get too exuberant we are to contact the police!! Tonga is full of contradictions.
Walked to town in the rain. it was deserted apart from the bakery… A Sunday ritual after church, eating and sleeping.
Had the bestest fresh fish served with recycled lunchtime taro chips and taro leaves sautéed with eggplant. Now this is as good as it gets!