14 October 2009

We're in Tonga!

We have arrived! It has been a week of training and travelling, resulting in us sitting at an internet cafe in the Ha'apai islands after having hitched the 20 minute ride to town on the back of a cell phone promotion truck. We are staying in a little community that has maybe 200 people, with a very nice and very patient host family, who has helped us immensely with everything related to the Tongan language. Every day, we walk around to the other trainee's houses, picking them up one by one, until we arrive at our "school" room for language training. Every day has been filled mainly with language training, punctuated by the occasional safety, medical, cultural, or Peace Corps admin training. The first four days were spent in the capital city of Nuku'alofa, and now, for the next 8 weeks, we are in Ha'apai. We were very lucky to be able to stop at this internet cafe, because there are no computers or internet within miles of where any of the trainees are- so, we will be incommunicado for a while after this unless we get lucky again.

Yesterday, there was a big community feast for the elementary school students as a celebration for having finished the exam to get into high school, and our host parents brought us back tasty plates of fish, boiled taro (like sweet potato), chop suey, sweet potato, chicken curry, fried breadfruit with salt that tasted a little like french fries, and our favorite so far, octopus cooked in an underground oven with a spicy coconut milk sauce. We sleep in a little room off of the main house with bright orange and yellow curtains, and wake up every morning to the sound of roosters crowing. Our host dad is the town officer, but also cultivates fields of taro, banana, and other crops to supplement the family's dinners. Typical to almost any rural town, everyone keeps tabs on us, takes care of us, and sends us trainees to school supplied with packages of cookes, water, Fanta soda, and bananas. As we already knew, family can be found everywhere.

02 October 2009

Big Waves and Small Parcels


Tsunami

Suddenly, Tonga is in the news! Everyone has been asking us what we have heard about the tsunami near Samoa in the past couple of days, and although we are sad that there is so much destruction in Western Samoa, American Samoa, and Indonesia, Tonga has largely been left untouched. According to the news and two of the in-country volunteer blogs we read, (Two Coconuts and Steve's Adventure) most of the damage was in Niuatoputapu, an extreme northern island near Samoa. Both blogs have very interesting descriptions of the events. The other islands, if they felt anything at all, only saw a rise in water level for a number of minutes, and then everything went back to normal. In fact, Ha'apai, where we will be spending the next two months, apparently didn't feel any effects at all.

We haven't heard anything from our training staff about this, so we are assuming that since the effect was little on most of the islands, everything will proceed as planned.


Contact Information and Packages

We have also gotten a lot of questions about how to reach us in-country and where to send packages. The best way to contact us in general is is via email, which will stay the same as always (eb.noyes and markanoyes both at gmail addresses).

Since our last post, we have been running around and alternately really enjoying seeing people for the last time before we go, and being very sad at having to actually say good bye. It has been a whirlwind of fun conversations, fantastic dinners, and tedious cleaning, packing, and legal paperwork. Our next post will be from Tonga!

- Elena
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