Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tua'aneki Vale, Vava'u homestay

We're at our first homestay in Tua'aneki Vale, a little village in Vava'u. We were supposed to take a 22 - 24 hour ferry here, but the two ferries they have weren't in service so we got to fly on air new zealand! I think we got placed in the best village out of the three they put us all in, ours is on the ocean, there are a couple beaches within about a 10 - 15 minute walk from our house, they're really pretty!!!

Our homestay family is really nice, the mom is Ailine, dad is Paula, and four kids - tafitou, asina, ana, and peta, one boy that's 16 and three girls that are 14, 13, and 6 years old. The house is really nice, they even have a TV/DVD player, music, a new computer, microwave, and our room is really nice with a four post bed that we put our mosquito net on. It does take some getting used to though, living with a family you don't know and feeling like you have to ask when to do things, etc. The bathroom and shower are attached to the house but outside, and cool showers but it feels good with the heat and humidity here. They also have a pet pig, 5 cats, and chickens and baby chicks. I thought there would be a lot more bugs, but we really haven't seen many just a few small ones. 

The first afternoon they had a big feast at the town hall welcoming the 8 of us in our village (us, monica, cassie, bronzie, trent, micah, and regina), with each host mom bringing food and we ate on the floor on mats. A lot of them got up and said speeches thanking us, then each of us did the same in the little tongan we could use. It was really great seeing so happy they are to have us here. The one thing that scared me at the first meal was the taro - it was cut in huge chunks and at first I thought it was a huge hunk of some kind of meat! We've mostly been eating chicken, fish, taro, bread, and lots of fruit - mango, papaya, pinneapple. An annoying thing though is that everything is cooked really greasy and they don't use napkins!! So there's nowhere to wipe your hands, it's kinda funny.

The last couple days we've had language classes in groups of four, in a house. The first day was easier - reviewing what we know, then on Thursday we went into more grammar that's harder. But we can tell we're starting to learn more and more, our host family has been helping a lot quizzing us and telling us other words and phrases. The kids speak pretty good english. Yesterday on Friday was a center day - the three villages met together for some safety sessions and language testing on some basic phrases, numbers, days of the week, etc. It was like a mini reunion seeing everyone again, it feels like we've been here longer than we have! And the lunch was really good, we had some food that was like chinese noodles and sauces with the chicken. 

We've been getting up pretty early every morning because it gets too hot to sleep in, and we've noticed the family really doesn't sleep much! They go to sleep really late and get up really early - maybe one in the morning and get up around 5am! But then they nap during the day too.  And after classes around 3:30 or 4:00 we've been going to the beach, one is a lagoon and the other is more open ocean with rocky cliffs. And yesterday we went to an area where all the kids swim, jumping off the road/bridge into the water with lots of mangrove trees. And at the lagoon there's lots of bright blue starfish, sea urchins, and sea slugs. 

Today we're going to a relatives house that's getting married - they all go and give presents first, I think I heard something about giving a chicken or something like that. Then tomorrow is the wedding at the church and feast afterwards that we're going to, that will be really fun to see!

There's a lot more I could write about, but we're with our host family in town in Neaifu and I'm not sure how long we're staying here, I'm at an internet cafe. I'll try to load some photos here too. The town is pretty small, and has a really pretty harbor with lots of sailboats and yachts.

Toki Sio!


Trotter said...

Great to see you've arrived safely! Looks beautiful, do good work and have fun! Cuz' Rach

Paula said...

The dad's name is the same as mine? I guess you won't forget about me then. ;) I'm glad to hear you are at a nice town and home. We miss you.