Monday, December 28, 2009

Palangi style holidays in Ha'apai

Well we're going on round two of holidays here in Tonga, we've had two Halloweens, Thanksgivings and now Christmases here. Only now we're the old volunteers - having been here longer in Tonga, but also in age compared to the new group. During one of our conversations over Christmas Brett and I mentioned Zubas (the popular zebra-striped baggy pants from the 80s), and the new volunteers all had blank stares and no idea what we were talking about. I guess most of them were born in the late 80s, we are getting old! I remember last Christmas was hard, the first big holiday away from home and having just moved into our site. Grant, the volunteer who had been here for a year, planned a Christmas get-away to his island which was really nice. So this year we planned a get-away to Uoleva island, to the nicest resort with all the new volunteers. It was great - snorkeling, laying on the beach, hanging out in hammocks, and we cooked some good meals - pasta and for Christmas a turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed potatoes. Brett and another volunteer, Todd, went spear fishing the first day and after they'd speared a couple of fish Brett saw his first shark! He said he just saw the white tip carving through the water, then saw the rest of the shark and said it was pretty big, maybe 5 or 6 feet. It was a white-tip reef shark, usually not dangerous, but then again Brett had a bag of fish with him! He watched the shark until it disapeared around the reef out of sight, then made a beeline for the shore with Todd. Lucky, our dog, came with us too to the resort and stuck by our side the whole time, she did better than I thought she would on her first boat ride. And all the other dogs survived while we were gone, none of them became dinner.
Overall I think this Christmas was easier than the last, because now we're settled into our home and community here. It didn't really even feel like a holiday until we skyped with our families back home. One of my uncles, cousin, and Brett all play guitar and usually play together over the holidays, so this year they all played guitar together over skype. Technology is amazing, it would be a very different experience here without the Internet. And there have been big changes now in the new group from when we first arrived - many of them now have Internet in their homes, some even wireless. And the connection has gotten better, we weren't able to use skype until about half-way through this year.

For New Years we're planning some kind of bonfire beach party, and will go to the east side of the island to be the first to watch the sunrise of the new year like we did last year. We still have time off from work, so we've just been hanging out. More new photos are posted in our picassa album. Thanks for the comments on our last few blog posts, we like hearing from people!

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