30 June 2012

Highlights of this year's city-wide feast

Asa and I sit, ready for the feast
That is, if you're Wesleyan. The end of June always brings a huge influx in visitors to Tonga; Tongans come back from all sorts of places overseas as well as into the capital from the other islands, and all congregate on a huge field in front of the Wesleyan offices - and eat, meet, and eat some more.

We've always enjoyed going, especially to friends' tables. It's a hugely festive air, and we're lucky to know people who are excellent cooks. This year brings a special treat in that we're able to introduce Asa to the delicacies and sights that normally no visitor to Tonga at any other time has a chance to see:

20 June 2012

First impressions of Tonga: Asa's visit

 After a ten-hour layover in Fiji that stretched to a full twelve hours to cap off his multiple-day journey to get here, my little brother Asa made it safe and sound to Tonga for an extended visit during his "summer break" from university in the United States.
Asa and Mark doing dishes- we put him to work already.

And are we ever excited to have him! After the last seven or so years of too-short holidays too infrequently, we're enjoying all spending some good time together. Asa's an avid reader of the blog, and so we invited him to be our first "guest blogger" to relate some of his first impressions of Tonga.

An editorial note: Asa mentions being able to get all sorts of items and be very comfortable here, which is absolutely true. However, he's also in the unique position of living with people who have already figured out where to get these hard-to-find items and restaurants, already know a lot of people, and have already figured out how to budget to afford the occasional - very expensive - cheese, wine, muesli, and other goods that may be normal to someone in NZ, Australia, or the US, but that are luxury to us and most people here. We've been enjoying showing him everything we've discovered over the past few years.

09 June 2012

Buy Tonga Made

Our favourite Tongan chips by Cocker Enterprises.
Ingredients: casava, vegetable oil, salt. Yum.
A lot of people in Tonga tend to think that anything imported is better: you're high-class if you serve boxed juice at your table instead of delicious fresh young coconuts, canned corned beef is usually more highly prized than locally-caught fish, and importing construction materials is generally considered to make you a better house than what's available here.

In a small, remote place like Tonga, you can't avoid imports. There is just no way that a company in Tonga will be able to supply all of the population's needs of the basics like flour, eggs, oil, and meat, even with most people heavily eating locally-grown root crops. And that's not even considering the impossibility of manufacturing appliances, fixtures, electronics, and other necessities of life and business.

Even so, there are so many possibilities for goods made in Tonga:
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