Ma’u ha ‘aho fiefie: Happy birthday to you! (Me!)

Nima ua today (52!) My birthday started with the usual cuppa in bed. Opened some lovely cards (Novelle, Emma, Allison, Michelle, Joy) and gifts… had a nice early morning chat with Mum (sorry Tania didn’t really need me to call you at 5.50am I am sure) My friend Mary had given me a gift to bring here which was a sweet little fabric Japanese flower brooch… perfect to hide a cleavage here and there! Kotoni had found some local Tongan coconut and watermelon oil which smells divine…
College was a little subdued as we learned that one of the teacher’s – Kina had lost his Dad over the Easter weekend. The funeral will be held next week and most of the staff had spent time praying with him at the hospital on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Kina and some his fellow teachers wore black clothes as a mark of respect as well as Ta’ovala (mats). We all gave some money for Kina’s family… Funerals can be ex affairs.
I helped set up for a monthly rotary lunch held at the Pot Luck cafe before Kotoni and I walked to The Reef Cafe near the wharf for a toasted sandwich and Tongan coffee which was excellent. Maybe we have found our own little Tongan Bills Beans!
Had our usual after school read and siesta then strolled to The Waterfront restaurant for a birthday dinner… Best meal we have had in Tonga so far… Fabulous fresh fish again! Kotoni’s was cooked in foil with a curry coconut cream and local vegies, mine was grilled with eggplant. We then shared a delightful coconut passionfruit panacotta… Simply divine….Oh and we each had a cocktail to start. $66 Aus including a tip. Lots of stars as we walked home by torch-light in between the occasional street light. A memorable birthday peppered with phone messages which were lovely…

Wednesday 3 April
Busy morning at college helping Kina with English pronunciation, Ofa with developing an assessment task and Leni working out some survey questions around law and catering. Another teacher just wanted to chat. He had recently completed a diploma in Tourism and Management lives with cousins in a village outside Nuku’alofa and travels about 30 minutes each day to ‘Ahopanilolo.
Discovered Our Fafa Easter stay of 3 nights/4days (accommo/food/boat transfers/drinks) was equivalent to nine weeks of a teacher’s wage… very sobering… we have so much to be grateful for.
Gordon’s class were doing hot and cold appetizers so the staff room was invited to a tasting… They did really well considering there is little in the way of sophisticated ingredients. My favourite was Davida’s Tongan style petit fours: chunks of coconut roasted with a lime and sugar-coating.. Very moorish. Out for coffee at our Tongan ‘Bills’ in the lunchtime break… Good to support local coffee grown here. No skinny decaf lattes… Yet! Back to staff room for the other class’s appetizer tastings. 🙂
I think my free time is slowly going to be filled with helping the teachers as they grow more confident with asking for help which is great as that is why I am here. Nia needed to develop a quiz and Sulia wanted help with understanding some workplace health and safety terms. I am learning so much I may end up going for an RPL in a hospitality certificate myself!
At 3 o’clock as we were about to leave all the staff came into the staff room singing happy birthday and carrying a huge candled cake which we had with yummy NZ ice cream. I was very touched by their gesture.
Tonight we were picked up from our home at 6.30 by the sewing teacher Larnie to go with the rest of the staff and some students to the hospital where Kina’s father is awaiting burial… The funeral is next Tuesday which gives time for all the relatives to travel to Nuku’alofa. The hospital service involved us sitting outside the mortuary on woven mats with the family singing hymns and saying prayers for about an hour. The daughter of Kina’s father’s eldest sister sat by herself on a special mat out the front … as is the custom. After the prayers a ‘speaking chief’ spoke on behalf of the family thanking us. We were given cake, buns and cans of drink as thank you gifts to take home. Funerals must be very expensive affairs for families as this happens everyday leading up to the actual funeral.
Our landlady had invited us to dinner but upon learning we were going to a praying ceremony told us she would save us some food and to call in when we returned, which we did. We also met her husband Lolo who had just returned from visiting family in New Zealand.

Thursday 4th
There was actually a nippy breeze this morning as the bells tolled and day broke. We must be getting acclimatised! I spent the morning helping Sulia write an exam paper and Kotoni took his class to the fish market for a costing field trip. After lunch we checked out the newly opened Alliance Francais to see if they could correct some french terms and invite them to our first Pot Luck French dinner next Monday… They already knew Kotoni was in town so all sweet… News travels fast!
During siesta this afternoon Lolo our landlady’s husband was mowing the lawn and hit our water pipe… Saane in her usual style was out there with new bits of pipe, a saw, tape etc and had it fixed within 20 minutes!
Had a great authentic Korean meal tonight… Nuku’alofa keeps throwing up little gems when you least expect it… Then headed to Noa’s nightclub for a ‘Ahopanilolo college fundraiser…
The event was due to start at 7… We arrived at 8pm and were the first ones there! Harri the art teacher arrived about 8.30 and we sat on the verandah watching everyone as they arrived while sipping out of date Tsingtao Chinese beer.
After 10pm students, friends and teachers began to arrive… Up until then the place was empty. As the night progressed the beer price went down… from 3 cans for $10TOP to 4… About $1.20 Aus a can… cheap booze and youth is always a bad combination and as the night progressed so did the proclamations of love and devotion to Sally and Sky our other single volunteer friends!
There was a lot of flesh, legs and cleavage especially amongst the boy/girl fakaleitis who took the event as an opportunity to dress up, pile on the makeup and don 6 inch heels … Kim Kardashian eat your heart out. They certainly like to strut their stuff and are fun to watch although going to the ladies and being muscled out by a big bunch of fakaleitis in frocks fighting over the mirror can be a little disconcerting! Taxi home about 11.30pm… I wonder how many staff and students will turn up on time for college!

3 thoughts on “Ma’u ha ‘aho fiefie: Happy birthday to you! (Me!)

  1. It’s all pretty amazing, and you continue to have new ones every day. All the cultural experiences are so interesting too. Their concept of time is different! You’ll certainly come home with lots of new cooking and food ideas. Did you get our birthday postcard? Love Tania


  2. Helen Snodgrass April 5, 2013 — 5:40 am

    Love the blogs. You certainly have settled in and soon there will be little time uncommitted. Glad you had a wonderful birthday. I fondly remember the 50. (s)


  3. Veronica pansaru April 5, 2013 — 1:35 am

    Just the most amazing experience for you both….four hours away by plane and a thousand hours away from what to us is the “norm.” – you are certainly correct when you is sobering!!xxxx


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