Thursday, April 16, 2009

A visit from the real world

We've been busy these last couple of weeks! First it was our training in Nuku'alofa for about 2 weeks, we ate a ton of good food at the restaurants there - chinese, italian, sandwiches, burgers, etc. It was good to see the rest of our group and catch up with people and compare experiences.

Then our friend Katie came to visit from Minnesota for a week, it was a lot of fun to see someone from back home and to show her around our island and village. We met her at the airport here in Ha'apai and had a flower lei for her, and fresh tropical fruit back at our house. The next day we showed her around town and to the other side of the island. Then on Sat. to Easter Sunday we went with a big group down to Uoleva island and camped out there at Captain Cook's resort (after camping there and at Dianna's we decided Dianna's is better for just camping). There were a lot of us Peace Corps - us, Eric and Melanie took the plane up here after training and have been here for about a week, Grant was in town from his island north of us, Phil and Sarah, and Jason was visiting from Eua. We also had one of the japanese volunteers, and our friends at the dive shop came and brought us all there and back on their boat. It was funny unloading all our backpacks and gear, it was high tide so they had to anchor the boat and throw another rope to shore and then in between big waves some of us had to swim up to the boat and grab some of the luggage, or the people on the boat would toss it to us to catch. Once on land we had the usual coconut rum drinks out of real coconuts with the coconut milk, and hung out on the beach and swam in the clear aqua water. Melanie and I went snorkeling, couldn't find the right place to enter so had Grant come guide us. The coral was amazing at the reefs in Uoleva, huge fan coral, brain coral, and lots of fish. Brett and some of the guys went spear fishing at another reef, and Brett shot two fish!! His first fish he's killed spear fishing here. Phil cooked them up over a fire for us for appetizers before dinner. Then that night we were all invited down to Patty's resort at the tip of the island to help out by being in some promotional photos Jason was taking for her website. And they wanted to shoot some photos of the common/dining area so we all got to eat dinner there too - huge lobsters! So we might end up in a few photos on their website - serenity beaches. Her place was amazing, by far the best I've seen in Ha'apai, really cute fales (guest houses) with tik wood from indonesia and open walls with bamboo mats that pull down, cool showers connected in trees behind the fale and bathroom area, nice paths through the bush with lanterns but really natural looking. And hammocks everywhere, and little huts with pillows for hanging out and reading. After that we walked back on the beach under almost a full moon, and had a campfire with the other guests at Captain Cooks, they were from different countries in Europe. I think we counted about 7 countries that were represented that night. The next day it rained pretty hard off and on, luckily it didn't rain through the night since some of our group was sleeping on mats outside! During the night some of our group realized their food had been stolen out of their backpacks or up in trees, so it wasn't animals. Then the next day the owner of the resort wanted us to buy a late lunch - umu food cooked underground and a roasted baby pig. Some of the group did it, then it started pouring in the afternoon and the food took awhile to be ready. The boat ride back was cold and wet, we didn't get back until evening time.

The next day was also rainy, we hung out around the house with Katie and caught up on things back home or here which was fun. Then ate dinner at our one restaurant, Mariner's. I'd heard rumors of a dance/festival going on that night so we wandered to look for it, but nothing was going on except church choir practices. On Tuesday Brett, Katie and I biked up to Foa to the beach at Matafonua resort. It was incredibly windy, with a few sprinkles, but once we got there it cleared up and was gorgeous, we had lunch at the restaurant there and swam at the beach. The bike ride back was also hard with the wind, we had to walk our bikes across the land bridge between islands where the wind was barrelling through. That night Brian and Sabine invited everyone over for a mexican dinner night, it was amazing, really good salsa, chips and tortillas, and salsa/mexican music. Wednesday we saw Katie off at the airport, it was hard saying goodbye knowing we probably won't see more friends from back home for awhile now. In about a month my parents and sister will be here visiting though.

Last night Aki, one of the Japanese volunteers, invited everyone over for Japanese food at her house - tofu, fish, rice, and other dishes that were really good. So after two nights of themed really good meals we decided we needed an American dinner night, we're having that tonight at our house with Brett and I and Eric and Melanie cooking, and Sarah's coming down to help cook too. The menu is home-made mac 'n cheese, hot pocket-like fried sandwhiches with bacon, cheese, onion and green pepper, onion rings, and for desert a chocolate lush cake. Grant even decided to stay for this dinner, he'd planned on going back today. I tried working today for the first time in about three weeks, but my counterpart messaged this morning that she was sick, and I found out the power is still not on at the computer center. We'll see next week if I can get anything done. We did find out that the Fisheries office, right next to our house, got wireless internet! The signal's not strong enough to reach our house, so Brett's trying to set up some cable from the office to hopefully get us Internet at our house!

New photos are posted on the link to the left.