Saturday, October 10, 2009

Malo e Lelei

Hello from Tonga! Sorry for removing the last post but this time I really will get this blog up and going. Although I have to tell you that by the sound of it, I'll have internet access only a couple times from now until December. I will attempt to share some of my first couple of days here but to be honest I am still processing the fact that I now live on an island in the South Pacific.

The first few days here have been great! I currently still have electricity, running water, and am in the capital city where every Tongan I have met speaks amazing English. I have been using the basic conversation words and thank you quite often but haven't needed anymore. Which is good considering language classes don't start until Tuesday.

I leave tomorrow for Ha'apai where we will spend 8 weeks with host families and have our training. This is when I feel the majority of culture shock will start. Nuku'alofa has a lot of western influence and the excitement of being here has prevented me from feeling too overwhelmed, even when watching, and then eating the freshly killed pig being roasted over a fire. It was really neat actually, as long as I didn't stare at its head for too long.

The reason for the pig was the huge feast that takes place every Sunday after church. Tonga is a very religious country so all of us trainees went to church with some of our Tongan staff this morning. I had no idea what was being said but the music was absolutely beautiful. It seems to be a rule that all Tongas have an amazing singing voice and they use it often! Afterwards we had a feast at the Peace Corps Directors house. The pig was one of the main dishes but also corned beef and coconut wrapped in taro leaves. The taro leaf dish is cooked in an 'uma which is the oven that is made from digging a hole in the ground, and having some sort of fire with rocks on top. It's basically an underground oven. The food was delicious and as it goes in Tongan culture, we ate a lot! After the Sunday feast, the expected activity is nap time! Talk about a lazy Sunday... I could get used to this! :)

Good news too... no malaria in Tonga! Thankfully my immunizations only included 3 shots and only one of them is still sore. What we have been told to look out for are these ridiculously large centipedes that are supposed to be "intensely painful" when they bite. One of the current volunteers described it as having a fork stabbed into your arm. So the mosquito netting will be tucked up underneath my mattress to prevent sharing my bed with any of those guys!

I hope you're all doing well in the states! Keep those emails, and hopefully letters, coming! The emails I received today were very energizing for me as I am still experiencing some jet lag!

Much love!