Monday, May 4, 2009

Wahoo = really big fish

On Saturday the rugby tournaments in Ha'apai began, the season runs until sometime in July with games in Pangai every Saturday and teams from all the different villages and some of the closer outer islands - Lofanga, Ha'ano Foa, and Uiha. Our peace corps friend Grant is on his island's team so we went to watch that game. It was a pretty big deal, with lots of spectators, a tent for all the officials/game board, a dj with music during half-time, announcers, and a marching band.

That night our dive shop friends from Fins 'n Flukes called to say they had caught some fish and to see if we wanted to host a dinner party with it. I'd expected the normal couple of reef fish, but when they got to our place they had a huge bowl full of already cut up fish slabs, and the fish they'd caught were two wahoos about 3 feet long each!! They had brought out a german tourist who caught the fish so he came to enjoy the feast as well, we had about 9 people total for dinner. The fish fillets were huge, Brian, Brett and Phil prepared them fried on the stove top, some sashimi raw fish, and some ota ika - raw fish in coconut cream with lime juice, onions and tomatoes. We also had a fire out on the beach and roasted potatoes out there, some of our neighbor kids were out there too singing different Tongan songs, most to the tune of fera jacques. One song was head and shoulders to that tune in Tongan, another was "where is jesus, he's not here, he's risen" to that same tune. We'll have to have more bonfires on the beach now that the weather is cooling off a little.

On Sunday it was a Tongan holiday - Faka me (children's day). Many of the Tongans were up all night preparing food for the feasts and mats to wear or flower leis. We were invited up to Alicia's village along with Phil to go to their church service and feast, and planned on going to our neighbor's weslyn church in the afternoon and evening for their feast. All the kids and youth were dressed in all white, with really intricate, fancy ta'ovalas (mats) wrapped around them, and flower leis. The church service was full of mostly just the kids and youth, and some of the men - most of the women were still preparing food for the feast. During the service the kids went up front at different times and recited bible verses or song verses. Instead of talking in a normal voice most shouted very loudly in their little kid voices, it was pretty funny. Alicia's dog kept sneaking into the church during the service as well. Aftewards we all went to the church hall next door for the feast, the tables were covered in layers of food - whole roasted pigs, plates of hot dogs, chicken and fish, noodles, potato salad, watermelon, cake with custard pudding, cans of pop, and baskets full of bags of chips, candy, apples, pears, and more pop. And as usual at these events, there were no napkins, only a spoon for silverware, and no plate settings - you just started eating out of any of the plates heaped in front of you on the table. There were speeches as normal during the whole event, Phil stood up and gave a short speech in Tongan on behalf of all of us peace corps there, thanking them for having us. When we got back home our neighbors called us over and handed us a huge plate of leftover food, they said they had thought the feast would be in the evening but after the morning service all the kids wanted to have the feast for lunch so they did. We still went to the 3:00 service to see the kids recite some bible verses, sing, and act out some skits, but left early since it was still not even close to being done at 4:00. It was a busy day, full of food and church activities.

Today we woke up, opened our back door and saw Tofua, the volcanic island, smoking more than I've seen it smoke before. We could see a big white cloud of smoke coming up from the volcano. That means there could be an earthquake soon. Most of the earthquakes are so small we don't feel them, we didn't even feel the last big earthquake!
Brett is swinging in the hammock in our living room like a little kid right now, we just had fish and onion rings for dinner and stopped up at Mariner's earlier to meet some friends. We walked into Mariner's expecting to just see the usual crew but found a lot of other palangis as well - the yachties are just starting to arrive, the first yacht came in this afternoon! So it's the very beginning of the tourist season, and there are also already more people in town for the church of Tonga conference that's happening next week. It's always fun meeting and talking to new people, usually at Mariner's since it's the one restaurant in town. Most of them have been traveling for a long time through many countries and it's interesting to hear some of their stories, and they're usually curious about hearing what we do here as well.

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