Thursday, December 11, 2008

Navutoka homestay, tongatapu

Well we're staying alive and surviving our last homestay in Navutoka, Tongatapu! We only have 2 more nights, and leave on Saturday back to Nuku'alofa the capital city and stay at a guest house for a week before leaving for our site in Ha'apai! On Wed. 12/17 we swear in officially as volunteers so think of us on 12/16 back home!

This homestay has been a lot different, for one thing it's only 2 weeks and you don't really get to know the village or family in that short amount of time. It's a bigger village than where we stayed in Vava'u, so it has a different feel to it, a little more urban but still no internet or large stores or anything. There's a lot of little falekoloas - stores that you walk up to and order through a window what products you want from the couple of shelves inside. This is the standard way of shopping in most places in Tonga. There are the tongan falekoloas and the chinese, the chinese have a lot more products and are open all the time. The tongan falekoloas aren't always open, but people just yell the shopkeeper's name (the stores are always right in front of the person's house), and they come out and open the store. There's a falekoloa in front of our homestay house in this village. You'll usually find chips, candy, water, noodles, flour, salt, ketchup, toothpaste, soap, kava, canned tuna and beef, and a few other things at these stores.

Our house at this homestay is huge (by tongan standards), 2-stories, lots of bedrooms, and a nice big wrap-around porch. But there are three families living in it - the mom and dad (Sia and Pauli) and their 5 kids, and their two older boys are married and have their own kids and also live in the house with their families. So it's a little confusing and chaotic at times. But this is a normal set-up in Tonga, once a young couple gets married they move in with the husband's family. One of the host sisters wove me a really pretty kiekie. And this time it was me that got really sick and not Brett, I think I'm over it now though, it was pretty bad earlier this week. It's definately not fun having a temp over 101 in the heat and humidity here! It was something probably from the food our group all ate, there were about 5 or 6 of us sick with the same thing. Not fun.

It was nice though that our village here is right on the ocean, with a little beach and benches lining the road along the ocean, it's a really pretty bright turquoise color and very shallow for a ways out. One day last week we went with Micah's host family out to one of the tiny islands you can see from shore. We thought it would just be a couple people from his family and us, but when we got to the water there was a tiny boatful of about a dozen tongans and Micah, it was already sitting really low in the water and Brett and I and Monica all squeezed in! This is how tongans normally travel, they squeeze as many people in as can fit, even sitting on laps at times on buses. It was fun, they made an umu so we all ate chicken and they had root crops too. They handed us sticks with roasted chicken, and a huge hunk of watermelon with a bush knife to cut it with. On the way there and back in the deep area between the island and main land the waves were huge like a roller coaster.

We've had more language classes here, and center days, soon to be done! Yesterday we had an interesting speaker from the center for abused women and children here in tonga and some of the statistics shocked us. In Tonga the land act/bill that is still being used was writen in 1875, and women have no right to own any land. Even if they're a widow, if they start a new relationship they then have to move off the land/house because they didn't stay true to their dead husband. (tonga's working on a new land bill now). And only first-born sons have a right to claim land. There's also a lot of domestic abuse, and they're just now starting public awareness on it, the only abuse center was just established in 2000 I believe. And for child abuse, they can't do anything about it if it's the parents. I think they're trying to get signed onto some UN child act, but don't have anything yet. In the local laws, there are none against child abuse or rape. Just some interesting facts on the topic here. We've also had more business and education sessions.

A couple more days and we'll be back in town, and will have more internet access again, and we have a lot of shopping to do for our house. I heard we might have to take the twelve hour boat ride to site in ha'apai, they're trying to work things out, so I hope it doesn't work and we can take the plane instead!


Anonymous said...

I just realized... your swear in date is the same date Brett proposed!! We are so proud of you and hope dearly that you are getting well. Happy shopping for the set up for your cozy home - it will be nice for you to get your own place after all these months - love you! Mom and Dad

Az-i-ja said...

Hey coconuts, me and my bf are going to tonga next week. we would love to do some homestays over there, can you please give us some conntacts or tips about it. will be a great hel for us.