A few weeks ago, John and Juleigh, PCVs in Pangai, came up to Ha’ano for the three-day weekend. (It was ANZAC day, but if you ask any Tongan what “ANZAC” stands for – much less what the holiday is about – you’d get an answer along the lines of, “Australia/New Zealand Something Something.”)
I love PCVs coming to visit me. Of course, I’d love any chance to see them, but they also bring good food to give me a break from my root crop existence. When these two came, they brought real palangi food. We ate very well. (That’s a typical “hey, howya doin’” type question in Tonga: Did you eat well?)
Over the course of their trip, we had:
- Tacos compete with ground beef, homemade tortillas, real cheese, and salsa
- Chocolate chip cookies (I finally made them, Mom!)
- Macaroni and cheese with sausage
- Garlic pasta
- Fish curry
- Pancakes, sausage, and scrambled eggs
- Breakfast burritos
- Thin Mint-like cookies
- Cookies we have lovingly dubbed “crack cookies” because they’re so addictive (Lil’ Dutch Maid is imported from Abilene, Texas, for anyone venturing to try them.)
- One “large” green pepper brought all the way from Tongatapu by Juleigh. Most peppers in Ha’apai are smaller than a baby’s fist, so to see one that would maybe make it to an American grocery store (only to be passed over because it’s a weird shape) is impressive.
But one thing that really got me excited that isn’t exciting to many others: bread. We had sandwiches! We made grilled cheese! The possibilities were endless… until it molded.
It rained most of the weekend. My yard is more flooded than I’ve ever seen it; there are parts where the water was up to my ankles. We spent most of the time just hanging around, reading, and sleeping. (Minus the reading part, we sound like Tongans.) There were some activity highlights though:
- A number of fellows around town had been asking me about Juleigh. Since her last visit, she had attracted some of the youths’ attentions. One of them asked if she would tou’a at kava while she was here, and Juleigh said ok, so long as I went too. Though that’s not generally ok to have more than one tou’a, they made an exception. So, on Friday night, the palangis invaded the kava kalapu. Here’s more on that kava experience. There were two kava circles that night – something I hadn’t seen before. I was planning on joining one circle with Juleigh at the other, but, lo and behold, there was a Tongan tou’a already there! I’d never before seen a Tongan tou’a! I thought everyone on the island was related to each other and thus not allowed to tou’a, but this girl from Fakakakai (a town down the island) apparently fit the bill for an acceptable tou’a – and she even wanted to!
Not only was this girl interesting, but the men at the circles were interesting. Juleigh pointed out one gent to me. He was sitting on the other side of the room, drinking from a milk box and wearing a woman’s lace jacket-like thing. Upon his standing up, we realized this was not just a jacket-like thing, but rather a floor-length negligee. No Tongan at the circle gave him a second glance. Ah, this country.
- We also went swimming. Tongans don’t go swimming when it’s hot. They say that it’s too hot to go swimming; they prefer to swim when it’s cool. So, following the Tongans’ lead, we went swimming during the downpour on Monday.
John brought his puppy, Banjo, and Banjo and Papi play like maniacs the whole weekend. They would run and crash into walls and buildings. Papi was exhausted after his new friend left.
Last time John, Juleigh, and Todd were in Ha’ano, there was a tsunami warning brought on by the earthquake in Chile. Though there were no tsunamis we know of, there were a couple of earthquakes one night. Juleigh, the earthquake expert – being from California, brought the first one to my attention. I thought it was just a strong wind rattling things in the house.
John and Juleigh were supposed to stay until Monday, and then go back that afternoon with the schoolkids who had come back to Ha’ano for the long weekend. Instead, they were told on Monday afternoon that the boat would leave on Tuesday in the early morning. We, of course, didn’t know what time that meant, so we woke up at 5:30am, packed in the dark (since there’s no electricity and the sun hadn’t come up), and went to the porch by the dock to wait.
Eventually they sailed off, and it was back to the routine on my little island.