24 Sanuali Falaite
Arrived at ‘Ahopanilolo soaked. We have a rain depression hanging over us and there is water everywhere. Maybe it is the ideal time to try a rain shower which we hear is very popular with Tongans. Yep… They get out there with their soap and lather up out in the yard (clothes on of course).
Weather can stimulate some creative fashion design solutions. I am currently wearing a tablecloth while my trousers dry out… the napery was provided by Malatina – one of my teacher colleagues. I doubt it will catch on as a hot fashion item but is an effective interim wardrobe strategy for now and made sure I was comfortable. There are definitely NO pictures!
25 Sanuali Tokanacki
What I have come to love about living here this year is the spontaneous nature of many social occasions. Things often evolve in a stressless way that is about coming together.
Kotoni and I walked into town and on the way we thought… Hmmm we’d like to catch up with Tajeen – a fellow volunteer we had not seen since before Christmas. She had returned to Australia this week after a six-week absence.
So we sent a text asking if she was free for dinner. A speedy reply said yes and we had the seeds of a weekend social gathering.
As we have six plates, knives and forks etc we thought lets also catch up with a few others. So before we made it to town – a 20 minute walk we had our humble dining table filled: Cam and Rei two more volunteers plus Lose my language teacher who is Tongan but has lived in NZ for most of her adult life. They were all free and able to come join us for the evening.
A quick mental stock take of our fridge over a lime and pawpaw juice and we nutted out a simple menu that only required a couple of items from the marketi plus a side trip to the fish shop to pick up some snap frozen fresh tuna.
Cam, Rei and Tajeen arrived on bicycles and Lose has a car. We gathered under the lounge fan and sipped iced tea. I have been making wonderful concoctions using the myriad of lovely tea products I have amassed from thoughtful visitors and friends. These sugar-free treats are sweetened with a garnish of frozen fruits and in tonight’s case with frozen mangoes courtesy of Lose.
The fish salad was divine. Kotoni seared the slices which had been sprinkled with cajun spices. These were then served on a bed of chopped coleslaw, eggplant relish and an avocado salsa. The layers were the trickled with a chilli ginger soya asian dressing. It was served with a simple fennel turmeric rice. All very simple, seasonal, tasty and fresh.
Cam provided a very delicate Tongan dessert of homemade coconut ice-cream and mangoes collected from his garden. A perfect ending to an enjoyable hassle free summery tropical meal that was constantly peppered with stimulating conversation.
I thought I may have to make up spare beds as our last three guests didn’t leave until midnight.
26 Sanuali Australia Day
Aussie Aussie Aussie and all that… We could not let today pass without some kind of celebration. High Commission staffer Amanda and husband Tristan whose house we had looked after over the festive season, hosted a BBQ which doubled as a fund raiser for Ha’apai. Kotoni made a beautiful array of wattleseed shortbread using Amanda’s oven (it is very flash with a temp dial!) featuring Australian icons compliments of my brother’s family who sent us a lovely array of Aussie baking cutters for Christmas. They were much appreciated and Rapidly devoured. I suspect eating them fresh from the oven had everyone’s tastebuds working overtime as there was not too much left when we left to escort Geneva our adopted American ‘daughter’ home. She leaves Tuesday to return to the US after a five month stint doing a gap year working at a school.