Friday, October 24, 2008

Village life, a Wedding and a Funeral

We finally made in back to the internet, our days have been so full with training sessions, and we have to depend on others for rides or figure out the bus (which only comes to neiafo once in the morning and returns once in the evening to tuaneki vale). So its hard not having internet!!

The wedding was amazing! We didnt know what was going on at all, we showed up at a relatives house with the girls in the family, and realized Brett was the only guy there and they were getting the 18 year old bride ready, putting makeup on, doing her hair, then wrapping her with lots of really intricate mats with lots of color and design to them. They kept wrapping lots of layers on her, added a beaded belt, then covered it with another mat, and a beaded necklace. Then they dressed her sister or someone close to her, then all of a sudden they pulled me up, saying "palangi" something or other (palangi means literally comes from the sky, but they use it to refer to any foreigners, mostly american). So they dressed me along with the wedding party! They wrapped a ta"ovla around my waist, a longer one, with lots of color and little mirrors on it, and a big beaded belt and necklace. It was kind of like they wanted to show off the palangis at their wedding, but also really nice that they included and welcomed us so nicely. After that we all walked in a procession down the hill to the church, sat through a regular service (the marriages all happen during the week, but become official after they attend church together), then they changed into even bigger matts about a foot out from their bodies, and walked to the feast. The feast was HUGE - layers and layers of food in plastic containers, fruit, and a baby pig every few inches. And lots of people stood up and said short speeches. We took a lot of photos for the family. Brett was sick that day and the next, dehydrated, so we left a little early and rested the rest of Sunday.

We"ve been learning a lot more Tongan now (trying to remember it all!), and had our first few business and education sessions. Brett visited a primary school one day. Some interesting things I"ve heard so far on business is that they keep it really close in the family, immediate family members might come and take whatever they want from the till or store. And the infrastructure is not set up well at all here, the ferries break down and all the crops might just rot at the docks not being able to be shipped anywhere. And tourists might get stuck in the capital and not get up to vava"u if the planes aren"t running. Plus they can"t own land. It will be interesting! We heard the married couples sites are - one in vava"u, one in hapa"ai, and one in tongatapu, but that could still change.

We also experienced our first earthquake!! Two actually! The first I felt, I was sitting in a chair and it was only for a few seconds, it was really weird and disorienting! Brett was standing and didn"t feel it. The second was a couple nights ago we both woke up in the middle of the night, it was swaying back and forth for a couple minutes, so a long time it felt like, but nothing too jerky or big.

Someone who works for the peace corps uncle died a few days ago, and the home village is close by here, so tomorrow morning all of us trainees are attending part of the funeral (putu) to see what its like. We have to wear all black and bring flowers, I think its only for an hour or so, and they"ll have the decessed in a relatives house for viewing. To show respect they actually kiss the body. Then there will be some kind of food from the underground oven, an umu. And Sunday we"ll have church, then another week of training.

That"s it for now, we will try to get online again soon! And hopefully figure out how to post more photos soon (on the left under picassa photos link).

1 comment:

Tim said...

My earth science kids were researching earthquakes and one found the one that you were in! I will have to share with them that you were in it! Thats so awesome. It was actually a fairly large earthquake too, I think it was a 6.