5 Ma’asi Pulelulu
We are becoming overwhelmed as our d-day (departure day) approaches.
Today a group of last year’s graduating students came to school to shower us with farewell thank yous and gifts of tapa cloth, fabric, jewellery, carvings, wall plaques, a fan, tapa tie, tapa handbag… So beautiful and accompanied with warm delicious words that brought tears welling in our eyes. Heaven help us next week.
I spent a lovely couple of hours interviewing Maletina, the Deputy Principal as I want to include her story in the next edition of the Rural Women’s Network newsletter… Oh my I must crazy to be already thinking of work… Like a sky diver the ground rush is accelerating and before I know it I will sitting at my desk pumping out paperwork.
6 Ma’asi Tu’apulelulu
Had our last volunteers luncheon at the Pot Luck restaurant.
No power for a couple of hours as the high commission’s generator was being repaired. We ended up at the other residence on the compound where Scott and Nicola live with their two kids. It was nice to spend time chatting, eating cheese and drinking red wine by candle-light until the power kicked in. As happens at such impromptu gatherings we ended up trying to fix Tonga and the rest of the world’s problems!
7 Ma’asi Falaite
Farewell drinks with the ‘Ahopanilolo teachers, volunteers and ex-students started at the Billfish bar with cocktails followed by dancing at Naughty Ruby’s another bar at the wharf. We declined the pub crawl in town but dropped off a few bods in the town centre which was heaving with drunken people spilling out onto the streets. We took the better option and were home tucked up in bed by 11.30pm. Well we had started at 5.00pm and somehow even lost time to have dinner! It really was a lovely evening and many of the staff became quite melancholy as did we! They are all quite young and as we bailed I did highlight to them that we had been married longer than most of them had been alive… sobering but unfortunately too true.
8 Ma’asi Tokanacki
International Women’s Day dawned with some drama for us.
We zoomed off to collect Tajeen a fellow volunteer. The plan was to go and watch a Fakaleiti netball team go through their training paces with Haylee their dedicated Aussie volunteer coach. A good plan for a wet start to the weekend as the stadium was indoors.
Well we made it to Tajeen’s no problem as the rain came bucketing down. She jumped in and then ‘kerthunk’ – the car would not start.
The battery was flat as a tack.
After a futile attempt to do a jump-start in second gear we went to plan B and I stayed with the car while the other two went to the Fab car rental office which was not too far away to borrow a car and some jumper leads.
A few minutes later Kotoni arrived in beat up old maroon BMW that stalled and conked out. We were getting desperate as we thought we would now need a car to start the car to start the car!
Luckily we were in front of a house where I spied a bloke who came to our rescue and helped us. At home we would just call the NRMA roadside assistance mob but here one has to be creative.
Before we knew it we were sorted and on our way to the car place to get a new battery.
Don’t you hate it when things like this happen. But in true Tongan style we took the grateful perspective and thanked god it was not Sunday when EVERYTHING is closed… Or that it happened last night in the middle of the main street surrounded by the rousing rabble. We even managed to see some of the netball game.
At 1.00pm I raced out to collect Maletina from her home to join us for a little luncheon back at our fancy housesit. Sisters Kieoma and Anuncia also joined us for this special afternoon. We ate fresh spring rolls, thai chicken curry, pawpaw pancakes and freshly baked ‘rabbit’ shaped shortbread. A nice way to show our gratitude for all they have done to make our stay wonderful.
Maletina is having baby number six in July and asked us to come up with a name that combined our two names… so ‘Sotoni’ – whether a boy or girl you will always have a place in our hearts and has created a life long connection for us with Tonga… seems we will be parents after all these years. We were incredibly touched and humbled by the gesture.
We had been invited to dinner at the New Zealand Hugh commission compound with Jordan and Tahlia but spent a few not so pleasant hours surrounded by screaming kids at the hospital as Kotoni had massively swollen ankles and a mysterious rash which I insisted we get checked out. After triage we sat in a long corridor awaiting our turn.
Happy birthday Tania – my darling sister… This time last year we were celebrating at your home in the Blue Mountains on the eve of our Pacific adventure.