Tears kick off the countdown, big night out & a little car drama


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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.

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Kotoni and Moni with the waiting team

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Kotoni and I with Tajeen
Kotoni and I with Tajeen

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.

Atu, moi and Leni
Atu, moi and Leni
Ceclie (French volunteer), Kotoni and Reimoni
Cecile (French volunteer), Kotoni and Reimoni (ex-student)

 

Tevita, moi, Nia, Leni, Sarlie, Moni and Malakai
Tevita, moi, Nia, Leni, Sarlie, Moni and Malakai
Kotoni, moi and Harri
Kotoni, moi and Harri
League of nations volunteers: Monique (Aus), Melissa (USA), Delphine (France) & Virginie (France)
League of nations volunteers: Monique (Aus), Melissa (USA), Delphine (France) & Virginie (France)
The whole 'Ahopanilolo crew
The whole ‘Ahopanilolo crew

 

 

Moi, Leni and Kotoni
Moi, Leni and Kotoni

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.

Hmmm kick starting the car was a group effort
Hmmm kick starting the car was a group effort

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.

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Haylee giving Tajeen and Kotoni some pointers. She coaches the national team
Haylee giving Tajeen and Kotoni some pointers. She coaches the national team

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.

Maletina and I were like twins... well nearly!
Maletina and I were like twins… well nearly!

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.

3 thoughts on “Tears kick off the countdown, big night out & a little car drama

  1. This Brings back memories of my time at Ahopanilolo over 20 years ago. How reassuring to see the school is still operating and the natural warmth of the students and community is still present. Your experience will change you forever.

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  2. We hope your recovery is speedy and your vehicles reliable. Perhaps if such small inconveniences occur, your wrench from Tonga may be kinder. 2014 in Australia may seem a good option and your year helping grateful friends amid a simpler life may be just that. As always ……. enjoy.

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  3. What an amazing story of love, Sotoni, so touching. Great that all is well car wise you will certainly need to be able to buzz around over the last few days. Hope that the rash has well and truly gone and ankles settled down. XXX TT be safe for your last 3 days

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