STOP PRESS: Just heard great news my sister Tania will be visiting 4-9J uly!!!
Friday 19 April
Managed to keep most of those pesky little slinkies (millipedes) out of the house last night!!! 🙂 the war is not over yet but we are making progress.
Have had a really sore hip for about a week and today discovered a Chinese massage/healer who worked wonders on me. He came here for a holiday five years ago before returning to live brining his parents with him. I reckon Mike, Kotoni and I may see a lot of each other as he seems to really know his stuff.
Saane and Lolo our landlords popped over to sort our rental agreement and the rats that have been running around in our roof…here’s hoping I am not awakened tomorrow by their tap dancing above my head!
Saturday 20 April
Picked up a groovy little two door RAV which cost $80TOP for two days (great discount for volunteers with one supportive rental company). Put in $100TOP of petrol and headed west getting lost a few times but that is par for the course … memories of Cuba with very little signage!
Managed to find the amazing Mapua’a Vaca blowholes after a couple of attempts. As the tide came in the hundreds of blow holes come alive up and down the coast for about 5 kms and looked simply stunning. A natural phenomenon that needs to be much better marketed… Even a good sign could help! Felt very lucky as we missed an entourage of mini tour buses heading there. A cruise ship was docked in town so the place had been swarming with day trippers.
Bought a pearl and red coral necklace from a local… while Kotoni completed a rubics cube he found at another stall to the delight of a village school group busking Christmas Carols in Tongan. Also bought some bananas… Always yummo for a snack.
Visited a couple of west coast ‘resorts’ which are expensive and so very average. $75AUS pp for shared bathroom… ‘beach’ wasn’t even that nice… But the tariff did include dinner and breakfast. Tongan is just not value for money when you compare with more established resorty pacific islands… But if it is authenticity you seek then come on over… Just don’t expect five star.
Headed east collecting a few goodies along the way at roadside stalls… avocados, pawpaws and a watermelon.
Came upon a very pretty stretch of road that hugged the coastline and saw a fishing pig! They root around in the shallows eating whatever they can find… Looks quite funny.
Also found the impressive south pacific ‘stone henge’ or Ha’amonga Maui nestling in a lovely mown park-like setting.
Home by dark feel quite tired having done about 150kms at an average of 40kms an hour.
Sunday 21 April
Picked up Sally another volunteer and headed west to Ha’atafu beach… For a looksee… Didn’t fancy a swim there… the beaches are so average and often strewn with garbage around the edges.
Our primary destination was the aptly named White Sands resort where we spent a glorious afternoon. Now as I have mentioned before, the word ‘resort’ is used very loosely in Tonga… But saying that this little place was the best we have seen on the mainland and was really lovely. It caters for small numbers of guests in a beautiful setting with very clean white sand on a little cove and the accommodation is clean and simple. There is even a pool with steps! The water again was deliciously warm and clear so lots of fish to be followed darting in and around the water – snorkels had another workout!
We ended up here on the request of the owner – Gloria, a Cook Islands-born resident who had been to the French Touch of Tonga Pot Luck dinner and wanted to discuss ideas with Kotoni. She was very impressed with the dinner and needs help with her staff. The kitchen facilities are very basic but Kotoni hopes he may be able to explore some ideas that will benefit the resort and his students. I think Gloria wanted Kotoni to get changed and move his knives in there and then!
Sundays are church and family days with only a couple of resort and Chinese restaurants open for dinner. We heard that Angela’s was good and enjoyed a lovely eggplant hotpot and beef with bokchoy dish with Chinese tea for less that $20AUS for two. Great value! Home to the finale of the happy clapper church service next door.
Only a few slinkies tonight…if anyone was wondering!
Monday 22 April
Car back, just handed in key at the ‘offisi’ and walked the block to college. All fine…no signing of any forms, no hassle… Lovin’ the absence of red tape! Swapped my work day from tomorrow to today as you will read below!
Today I helped a group prepare for a business presentation on Wednesday. They are making candles out of recycled wax collected from churches. I was most impressed with their spokeswoman… Hina is a college prefect and a very confident young woman who I am sure will go far.
After Kotoni and I had lunch with Virginie from Alliance Francaise, I walked into town (20 mins) to meet Vanessa at Friends Cafe. She is fabulous dynamic 34 year old Tongan Single mum running a young women’s project called Talitha (relates to a biblical story and means ‘rise up’). I have offered to help her with a leadership program she has funding for which will kickoff in May with 30 women from across Tongan. This should be fun… Although as usual everything is very fluid!
Tuesday 23 April
Saane and I went shopping for a new stove!!! A few hours later after trawling every stove selling shop I am thrilled to report that my very talented 63 year old landlady had taken out the old one and replaced it with our new purchase… who needs a removalist, gas fitter or plumber when you have her!
I must say I was a little amused on our expedition as she was really ticked off when we couldn’t park right out the front of the shop. At one place she mounted the car on the pavement to squeeze into a spot so we wouldn’t have to walk 10 metres!
I paid for the stove upfront and will be ‘repaid’ by only paying the balance of our rent next month so all good. It is a four burner gas upright with gas oven as well and cost $710TOP
Saane, husband Lolo and I celebrated with a coffee in our back patio before I treadled off on my bike in search of a wok which I managed to find along with a newly opened (today!) Australian store selling health foody things like nuts and seeds and even organic quinoa!! What next??!! Harrods??!!
We christened the shiny new whitegood with a stir fried of snake beans, bokchoy, carrots, onions, garlic, eggplant and wait for it….tofu!!! All sourced from the market today!
Wednesday 24 April
‘At five the air is cool and it’s still dark, although the rooster cacophony has been going now for two hours…’ An excerpt from ‘Shooting Balibo’ a memoir I am reading by journalist Tony Maniaty… set in Timor Leste of course but could be Nuku’alofa!!!
Kotoni and I had to give an impromptu ‘lecture’ this morning at college about industry expectations and our professional journeys. I spoke to all the first years and Kotoni the second years. We were asked to reinforce the concepts of attitude, good time-keeping and wearing the correct uniform.
I then helped summarise a chapter on hospitality law with Leni and surfed the net for scholarship information with Larnie who wants to study in New Zealand while munching on freshly baked ANZAC biscuits that Kotoni’s class made. A new culinary taste sensation to add to their recipe repertoire!
Tried a nearby Korean place for lunch… our mouths tingled all afternoon from the kim chi and bulgogi. This afternoon we also we went with some ‘Ahopanilolo business students who are in youth business award supporting them as they gave their presentation: making candles from recycled wax.