I haven’t been able to upload any blogs recently, since I either haven’t been to town or the internet was down. Here is a summary of things that are going on around Ha’ano/Ha’apai/Tonga, mostly related to me.
In January, there was a serious cyclone that hit Ha’apai. Peace Corps had me go to town to ride it out. Though it was much shorter (and fortunately so was the time we were consolidated), it was more destructive than last year’s Cyclone Rene. Walking around Pangai, we saw roofs that had been ripped offs, old buildings that had collapsed, and trees that had been uprooted. (PCV houses were all fine.) The long-term impact is that much off the breadfruit fell off the trees, plantain trees were overturned, and the stems and leaves of root crops were broken. In a few months there’ll be a shortage of staple foods in Ha’apai. The Ministry of Agriculture is trying to import potato seeds to grow quickly to make up for the gap.
Tongan friends have been hanging out at my house quite a lot. The biggest draw is my iPod and speakers for them to listen to music during the day (too bad it’s always the same mix of Akon, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, and Eminem) and, once the electricity comes on at night, I’ve got “Glee” on my harddrive. I like having people over, but it makes it difficult to relax or read a book when everyone’s jamming to some Pitbull song or skipping around episodes to find the songs.
A few days before school started, I still didn’t know who would be teaching at my school. As of last year, both of my teachers were transferred and only one new teacher was coming to Ha’ano. But, this is Tonga, and nothing is certain until it actually happens, so a week before school started, I was told that the one guy who was supposed to come to Ha’ano wouldn’t be coming. Up to a few days before school started, I still didn’t have any Tongan teachers at my school. Eventually, 24 hours before school started, one of my teachers from last year, Paula, and his new wife, Veiongo, were dropped off by the Ministry of Education. So far, school’s been going really well. I’m still teaching English, and with the new syllabus for primary schools, my hours teaching have been cut from 13 hrs/week to 6.5 hrs/week. I’ve offered to teach PE and Art classes when those come up in the schedule, but those classes always take a backseat to the core subjects, so I haven’t taught any yet.