29 August Tu’apulelulu
I popped over the Saane’s to pay our monthly water bill and managed to escape without toasted sandwiches she implored me to take for breakfast and lunch! Then off to the ICM for some speedy internet… OMG I hope this lasts it was truly amazing… emails came and went so fast… Could this be the end of my greying hairs!!! Dinner at Marco’s with a fellow volunteer who had just returned from a visit to Eua Island where she went swimming with a whale mum and baby… we can’t wait until we do this in Haápai… well that is the plan anyway!!!
30 August Falaite
Managed to get quite drenched when a downpour hit right on cue as we finished our language class. Luckily I could scoot home and dry down before heading to school where it was a hive of activity. EVERYBODY was involved in a huge cook off. They were making nine different dishes that people could buy and take home for dinner as a fundraiser (We made $5,000TOP!!) Kotoni and I bought two of these meal ‘vouchers’ and gifted them to a couple of families we see each day on our way to school. One is a very poor family with lots of kids and pigs, the other is an elderly man and his wife. We see him every day sitting cross-legged at the front of their house scraping coconut flesh and he always gives us a big wave, has a beautiful toothless smile and usually yells “malo e lelei”! Both households welcomed the meals. The family offered to pay (we explained it was a gift) and the old man handed us three delicately woven trivet mats and a little dilly bag. We were most touched. I waited in the van while Kotoni did the drop offs. He said the old man’s house was immaculate inside.
We had borrowed the school van and carried on up the road to pick up Malatina the ‘Ahopanilolo Deputy. Together we headed to a feast at Liahona Mormon high school about 15kms out-of-town. The school is part of a complex that includes a vast temple. It is like a small Truman Show town with manicured lawns and neatly spaced palm trees. There is onsite accommodation in classy bungalows for teachers, dormitories for students and apparently an excellent free hospital with dentists as well as doctors. It was the graduating celebration for the hospitality and tourism students and we had been invited as special guests by the two Home Economics teachers who had attended our cooking class last semester.
The evening included a three course meal and a plethora of fabulous dancing items from around the Pacific. I must say the Tongan dance style is the most elegant and the Tongan girls with their long free flowing locks looked superb. We shared a table with two teachers who had 16 children… Five of their own and 11 adopted. It is amazing the lives som people live.
31 August Tokonaki
I haven’t seen rain quite like this for a long time… it was torrential all day. We didn’t even brave the Saturday flea market but did manage to get to the supermarket for a few essentials and buy some antibiotics over the counter at the chemist for Kotoni’s cough that won’t shift before snuggling up at home. I had a slow trip to the airport to collect Lesley and Stewart whose plane arrived on time from NZ. Wonderful to have them here for two whole weeks.
1 September Sapate
Gordon treated us to his special Escoffier pancakes with freshly made banana jam… Yum. The morning sun provided a welcome relief to the rains and it ended up being a lovely day. We did a bakery side trip to grab some cakes to take to Polly’s and spend the morning helping to prepare and eat a traditional Tongan umu lunch with some of the newer volunteers.
Stewart who is a real foodie felt very connected to his Maori roots and really enjoyed the whole cultural experience.
Our visitors got the western car tour after lunch which always includes the spectacular blow holes that were going mental in the surging high tide. We also swung by Liahona High School and the Mormon Temple… such an unusual sight amongst the plantations.
On the return trip to town we did a detour to Keleti International Beach resort for a coffee. What a view and not a bad coffee either although not sure that the resort is quite what a westerner would expect… but saying that… sitting overlooking the little reef and tracking whales as they played off the coast one soon forgets the rusty chairs and lack of a pool! It is an awesome spot.