Saturday, November 1, 2008

A place you don't want to visit in Tonga...

This last week Brett got pretty sick - his stomach wasn't adjusting to the Tongan food (more on that later). We had the PC nurse bring some medicine, but that didn't work so on Mon. night we made our first trip to the hospital here in Nieafu. It definately is a place you don't want to visit while you're here if you can help it! It was like a horror movie!! Not sanitary at all - dogs, cats, bugs everywhere, open breezeways and no screens on the windows. It's kind eerie too, the nurses are in pink uniforms with the old fashioned white paper hats. And everything else looks like it's from the 50's too, all the equipment and beds. The patients even have to bring their own bedsheets and everything. So we got different medicine there, and the doctor even met us there right away. On the way to the hospital Brett got pelted by a mango through his open window as we were driving about 50 mph!! It was funny, the chances of that happening. And it was a little bitten so they said a bat probably ate it and dropped it, so a bat threw a mango at Brett! We ended up going back the next morning for an x-ray, then again later that night on Tues. for some pain meds, then he got better on Wed. So it was a long beginning to the week but we got through it.

Sorry to start on that note, but that was the main thing that happened this week! We did go to the putu (funeral) last Sat. morning, that was interesting. They had us all bring flowers, our host families put them together in arrangements and wreaths. They were so pretty, back home they would've been so expensive too with all the tropical flowers they used. We got to the funeral house and filed inside in a single line and dropped off our flowers by the dead body covered in mats. Then we all sat under a tent for a food, it was a weird time to eat a meal though at 10:30am. The night and day before a funeral here they have a lot of people in their village helping kill animals and make the umu (underground oven) with meat and root crops. Then they serve up pre-made servings to the guests that come through, bagged plates of food and mango juice.

We also went to Kietahi beach again on Sat. all afternoon with almost all the other peace corps trainees, it was so much fun! The ocean was really pretty and aqua during the day, blue/green, and you could see where all the reefs were the water was really clear. We set up camp under some trees, someone had their ipod with a speaker, and hung out reading, talking, swimming and snorkeling. My snorkel mask broke so I had to borrow someone's. The water was really clear snorkeling, and the current was perfect, it pulled you along parallel to shore so you could just float. We saw lots of bright blue starfish, little bright nean fish and corral.

And more on Tongan food we've been eating. It's a very different diet than back home, which is probably why Brett was sick. It's a LOT of carbs, and they really don't eat vegetables. And the locals portions they eat are huge. We've had some pretty good meals at our house - whole lobster, chicken, rice, and lots of pinneaple. The main issue we've had and we've tried to explain to our host family is that we can't eat food that's been sitting out, they don't have a fridge only a freezer. When we first got there they would make a meal and it would sit on the table under a mosquito net and cling wrapped plates from morning through lunch, dinner, and even into the next day sometimes. And it wasn't just fruit, it was chicken, meat, fish, etc. And they leave mayo out all the time, and ketchup, and everything. So now we have gotten them to make us each meal at each meal time. I think the worst we've had so far is the taro (they come in huge chunks and have no taste at all, and are really thick and hard to swallow). The other would be the tongan soup, the broth is really thick and tastes like some kind of meat. I took a spoonful and realized it was a fatty lump of mutton!! It was all fat, I couldn't chew it, and was gagging on the taste, so I quickly put a piece of bread in my mouth to soak up some of it, then when no one was looking spit it out!!

Yesterday we had a coconut/stranded on an island survival session, it was pretty informal. We went to the bush outside our village, the rest of the groups met us there. And they showed us how to shuck open a coconut, how to get the meat out, how to open the top to drink the juice, how to start a fire and gather the right kind of leaves/wood, etc. It's always fun to get the whole group together and see how others are doing. We also had a language test on Friday, it was harder than they said it would be with a written 6 page test and a verbal portion that was an interview about families, introducing ourselves, food and a few other things. Last night we got a ride into town from our family and picked up Katie, Chad and Saskia from the next village over, it's so hard to get into town usually! It was a couple current volunteer's birthdays so we hung out with a group of them at their houses (steve and james live right next door to eachother in town here). And then we got a ride again this morning to town, we're sitting in a little palangi (for foreigners mostly) internet cafe right on the water. After this we'll go walk through the market and maybe find something to eat before heading back and going to the beach.

Hope everyone back home is doing well, keep sending us comments, emails or messages here or hotmail/facebook, it's good to hear from people!! And happy halloween!


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