Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ha'api: Week 3

Hello Friends & Family,

I am, in fact, alive and well in Tonga.  Sorry the posts have not been happening often (or at all haha).  I am loving Tonga for the most part.  There are a few comforts of home that I miss... and of course I really miss a lot of people (aka all of you reading this).  But, all in all I am having a great time.  Right now I am living on Foa like Ger said. It's a teeny teeny island.  I run with my friend Jason most mornings and we run about half the distance of the whooole island.  On a good day we could run the whole way!! (only about 4 miles).  There are some beautiful beaches here.  We've snorkled a few times and I have seen a ton of fish!  Two weeks ago I was swimming around a reef and ended up in the middle of a school of about 200 zebra fish who didn't even seem to notice me lurking there. Amazing!

I found out that I will be teaching primary school (crazy, right?) in Vava'u.  It's an amazing island group that is know for its rain forests, beches, and safe harbor.  Lots of yachties from around the world dock there.  I am not in the main city, but I'll be around a good mix of palangi (foreigners) and Tongans.  I'll let you know more later, but I must be going!!!

Toki Sio!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Notes from Nora's mom

Hi Friends and family,

Nora doesn't have internet yet so we thought we would try to keep you up on what she is doing.  She is happily living with a Tongan family of 5 (dad, mom, 2 daughters, ages 14 & 8, one son age 11).  She is living on the island of Foa, which is part of the Ha Apai group of islands.  See google earth.  The city is Lotofoa and has about 300 people, 40 houses.  They eat lots of seafood (no surprise there), chicken, root vegetables and fruit.  She said pigs and dogs run around freely.  Nora says she is learning lots of the Tongan words but is still struggling with putting sentences together.  She likes her family a lot. Many of the activities are tied up with celebrations, many religious.  Her language/culture class is right near her home and she goes there Monday-Friday with the other 7 Peace Corps workers.  If anyone wants to call her the phone # is 011 676 778 5673.  She will learn soon just what she will be doing for a job.  We will keep you posted.

Harry & Geri Graves    

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tonga: Day 5

            As predicted, time in Tonga (I’ll be alliterating as much as possible!) has been flying by.  I can’t believe we’ve been here for almost a week.  The journey here was quite the ‘twilight zone’ experience.  After a day of informational meetings and activities in Los Angeles, 40-something Peace Corps Trainees headed to the airport for our 11:30 pm flight.  We had a few hours of free time before our flight, so I made a couple ‘so long’ phone calls and enjoyed my last slice of American pizza and a nice cold beer! [aside:  I thought that would be my last slice of pizza for awhile.  Little did I know, I’d have some great pizza from the ‘Little Italy’ of Nuku’alofa.  Crazy, right?  I thought I was in for exotic and unrecognizable foods and I’m having taimi ti (tea time) every day, eating pizza, and visiting great Chinese restaurants!]
            The first leg of our flight was from LAX to Apia, Samoa.  Nora ‘I don’t sleep in cars or planes’ Graves was passed out in my window seat by the time we left the ground in L.A..  The Peace Corps has changed me already, apparently!  The 10 hour flight was full of great entertainment, snacks, and intermittent naps.  I watched bright stars in the South Pacific sky and a beautiful orange/red sunrise as we landed in Samoa.  This is when the twilight zone feelings set in.  We’d all been essentially awake for 48 hours subsisting on plane food and coffee.  We refueled with some Samoan airport lounge coffee and boarded the plane again for an hour long journey to Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
            We arrived in Tonga and apparently our group brought some bad weather along for the trip.  It rained for our first 3 days here.  We asked some current volunteers whether this was normal and they said it hadn’t rained for 3 weeks before we arrived! The cool breezes that accompanied the rain were pretty nice though.  I am currently sitting in our ‘living room’ at Sela’s Guesthouse looking at a very sunny sky.  We have an amazing little home for our first week here.  It’s a rambling house with guest rooms surrounding a community area that is a hybrid indoor/outdoor space.  We’re protected from the rain but can sit and watch the clouds go by!  Every day we all trek to the Peace Corps HQ for sessions on Language and Culture. [I realize this would be so much better with pictures…they will hopefully come soon!]
            I just spent three paragraphs describing my first 2 days in the Peace Corps.  Brevity is not my strong point.  This blog experience will be quite the work in progress.  For now just know, I am taking in so many new amazing experiences….many more than I can write about now.  Luckily, I am trying really hard to journal so hopefully you’ll hear about them soon.