14 September 2012

Farewell, Asa

Asa walking to an island through a tidal flat

We were very sad to say good-bye to Asa a week and a half ago, and he wrote a great reflection on his time here:

Three months have come and gone surprisingly quickly. As of the 4th of September, I’ll have been in Tonga for a total of 83 days since the 12th of June, and it’s been quite an adventure. I’m not sure if I could call it “There and Back Again; a Human’s tale” as I at no point traveled with dwarves and a wizard to slay a dragon and reclaim a mountain home, but it has been quite fun.

There were a lot of things that I didn’t expect to do and I did, a lot of things that I expected that wasn’t the case, and a lot of things I hadn’t even thought about that happened anyways.

Asa leads the pack in the half marathon
For example, when I first arrived in Tonga, I didn’t expect to really ride a bike much. I personally hadn’t ridden or been in contact with a bicycle for any extended period of time for years, partly because I had a painful accident when I was about 9 that mostly got me off bikes, and partly because I lived in one of the least biker-friendly towns in the world (huge steep hills, too much traffic, no bike lanes, little respect for bikers or pedestrians, etc.). I started riding when I first got here, and last Saturday, I biked the half marathon (21 km / 13 m).

Asa did quite a bit of cooking, and learned how to make a delicious cake for Elena's birthday
Over these months, I have been able to experience Tonga in a way that people generally don’t experience places they travel. I was able to live the day-to-day of work, home and social events and still experience some of the more tourist-y attractions and beauties of Tonga. I got to meet a ton of very interesting and cool people from around the world, all here for one reason or another. My time here has really been a once-in-a-lifetime experience in general and my leaving is bittersweet. I am glad to be heading back to the Seattle area to be back with friends and family, enjoy fast internet, have easily available vegetables regardless of season, have things like chocolate and good cheese again and drive a car. On the other hand, I’m really going to miss being with Mark and Elena, especially because as of this moment I don’t know when I will see them next.

Asa's eyes were closed in almost every picture, so we took this picture to prove that we could all keep our eyes open
The funny thing is that I actually ended up coming at the perfect time to enjoy a lot of the best events of the year, including the Wesleyan Church Conference (with its 7 days of feasting), the Royal Wedding, and Heilala week performances. I swam with the whales, walked to an island, played 18 holes of golf, did improv comedy with a local arts group, listened to a choir competition at the King's church, attended one of the days of the Royal wedding, went boating and snorkeling,  and the time has been perfect. I highly recommend Tonga to anyone that is out for a little adventure.



"Team Red" scores a point in a well-played improv match

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