Monday 29 July
It felt like a slow motion movie. This was Áhopanilolo’s Pot Luck training restaurant’s re-opening night for the second half of the year and it was shaping up to be a biggy with 70+ booked. By all accounts this is the most customers they have done. everyone just cruised along at the same pace as if catering for 12. It was kind of like a quiet chaos in the kitchen and madness out in the restaurant but we got there in the end.
We were overflowing with people begging to come along. It seemed to be the hottest ticket in town for that night. Chairs and plates were found in back cupboards and the staff-room to make the extra settings and I am proud to say the students rose to the occasion helping each other even if it constantly fell apart. Kotoni and I felt a bit like chooks with our heads cut off zipping here and there trying to keep abreast of what was happening on the floor.
It was a farewell for a number of Aussie volunteers whose year was up so most of the crowd was generously patient to the chaos simmering behind the scenes. Did it really matter if you got your main course before your entrée? Suzanne and Dave, two lovely NZ volunteers graciously agreed that a sirloin steak followed by seafood bisque was perfectly fine!
Not so an older palangi bloke who asked me if his steak was medium rare? I immediately replied ‘This is Tonga go with the flow” and placed his meal in front of him before scurrying off to the applause of his friends who said they had been trying to get him to chill out a bit more. I was fuming!
My work colleague and friend Kate arrived safely later that night at 2.00am and Kotoni did a great job ‘guarding’ the house with Tin Tin, Noodle and Mullet as I drove the hire car out to collect her. I doubt we shall get broken into again for a while as there is nothing much left much to take… apart from more used soap… and as my Orange friend Melissa said, Ï hope they slip on it in the bath!’
ps sorry Timm but weather was divine today
Tuesday 30 July
Kate emerged from her room about midday (jetlag!) and we hit town before a quick drive out to the west coast blowholes which I am never tired of experiencing. This natural phenomenon is different every time we go…as the ferociousness of the waves depends on the blowhole surge governed by the tides.
Rei, another volunteer came over for a curry. He is working at the High Court with judges and has had a very busy time sorting out a long standing drama between two boys school who have been feuding for generations. It all became extra violent last week when two students were critically injured and 147 mainly young people were arrested. Poor Rei was part of the processing team. A couple of months ago it had flared up and the entire cohort of year 11 were put in prison??!! Serious stuff and not great for the Tongan ”friendly isles reputation when we caught the story on the NZ news.
Like all our guests Kate delivered a generous booty of requested goodies including crayons to colour candles for a school youth business project, USBs, electrical lamp timers, pens and a few little luxuries like dark Lindt chocolate and some wee bottles of grog! She has also kindly offered to redo the ‘Ahopanilolo website from Australia… trying to do something like that from here would be like a suicide mission with the sluggishness of the internet.
Wednesday 31 July
We dragged Kate into school today and she helped me take my first English conversational class with a mix of second year cookery, fashion and art students. We did role plays and there with lots of giggling from the áctors’ who really got into it. Overall their English is really great… it is their confidence that needs some work. Kate and I bounced a few ideas around so I think I shall have fun with this group over the next few months. Any ideas are most welcome!!
Tonight we restarted the cooking classes for Tongans. Had a few locals plus some of our own teachers attending. We do enjoy these classes and now it is only once a week and going from 5.30-7.30pm it is all a lot more manageable than the previous split shifts we were doing twice a week. Tonight we had them making savoury pikelets, an orange syrup cake and chicken and veggie stir fry. All easy, affordable and healthy (where we can) options. One of our class members is the cook from the Australian High Commissioner’s home so we had better watch our Ps and Qs!
Thursday 1 August
August already… can you believe it! Kate has the day to herself to explore Nukuálofa CBD (that should kill half an hour!) plus she is off to see Mike the Chinese benevolent masseur/torturer. Actually she ended up with Mike’s Dad… a 30 year Chinese massage master who had her bent in all directions but by her reports the pain may have been worth it. Drinks at reload pub for happy hour followed by a Korean meal ended the evening.
Friday 2 August
Just as I jumped on Bas to scooter off to language classes the heavens opened and down she came. I only had to ride about 3kms and had on a rain covering but as I stepped off the moped I looked more like a drowned possum than the Audrey Hepburn look I have been trying to cultivate. But at least I was dry! I am enjoying the lessons with Lose who is a groovy Tongan with an incredible knowledge of culture as well as language.
STOP PRESS: WE HAVE OUR NEXT TONGA TIME ABC LOCAL RADIO SESSION WITH ANGELA OWEN MONDAY 5 AUGUST 9.30AM AUSTRALIA TIME