Tuesday, February 16, 2010

More Fun, Fascinating Facts

As I was looking through the mounds of papers in the school, I came across a student’s birth certificate. (Among piles of discarded papers – that’s exactly where I keep mine, too.) There are maybe ten boxes to be filled in: Name, Place of Birth, Date of Birth, Father’s Name, Mother’s Name, etc. And there’s one box you don’t see too often: Birth: Legitimate or Illegitimate.

There is a news program that comes on the in English at various times throughout the day, and I’ll listen when I can. One of the stories today was a Tongan judge’s resurrection of an obscure law that allows whipping when the judge deems it appropriate punishment. These two prisoners received lashings for breaking out of prison and, during their time on the run, thieving. Don’t worry about me; women are not allowed to be whipped under this law.

Peace Corps Volunteers in Tonga are spread over 4 island groups, either on the main island or an outer island. I, being a boatride away from a carride to the big town, am on an outer island. There were five other PCVs on outer islands in my island group of Ha’apai, but they were much farther out. They had to take the ferry, the Pulupaki, anytime they wanted to go to a main island. The Pulupaki schedule was always in flux: the boat would stay in Vava’u for an extra day, an extra week in Tongatapu. The Peace Corps requires all sites are accessible by regular transportation, and, since the other ferry, the Princess Ashika, sank last summer, the Pulupaki, though not great, sufficed. The Pulupaki was recently docked in Tongatapu for an extended period of time for inspections. It was deemed not sea-worthy, so it wasn’t allowed to sail. Supposedly. After a while in Tongatapu, the Pulupaki left for Fiji for reasons that are unclear to me. That means that the only mode of transportation to people on the outer-outer islands in Ha’apai no longer have regular transportation, and the Peace Corps had no choice but to relocate the Volunteers. That also makes it impossible for Tongans to travel, as that was by far the mode of transportation for Tongans. That also affects goods we can get in Ha’apai, since most stores won’t pay to ship things on the airplane.

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