It’s July 8th now, and as you’ve noticed (if anyone has in fact stumbled upon this page besides you, the reader) I haven’t written in a minute.
A lot’s been going on. I’ve been at site nearly eight months now, but I spent most of June travelling – a week and a half in the US, then had a visitor for three weeks. I used them as an excuse to travel around Viti Levu, visiting Alan’s site in Ra, the village of Nanukuloa, which sits right on the bay with excellent views around it. Then we went down to Suva, and hung out with some PCVs from Tonga. These are the things I learned about Tonga:
Their grog circles are much more gender-segregated than Fijians – in Tonga, women never drink – but they almost always serve, in a ceremonial position called the “toa” (which translates to “chicken” in Fijian). They don’t have anywhere near as much landmass as Fiji, and around 1/8th the population (Tonga > 100,000, Fiji < 900,000). They make jokes with Fijians about Ma’afu, a Tongan leader who in the 1800s invaded Fiji through the Lau islands, to the southeast of Viti Levu (my island).
The two Tongan volunteers, Sammy and Sami (from the same island, Eua) spent their last night in Fiji in Sabeto. They came to the school in the afternoon, and we hiked out to the Hot Springs around 4:30, after eating some excellent fried fish & moli[i] in Namaka. We met Mere, the typist at the school, who incidentally is also Miranda’s yaca (as the Fijian Miranda is Meredani or Mereoni.) We also met up with my yaca, Master Epeli, who lives in Naboutini. After we bathed in the natural hot springs, we went to the small bure (traditional thatched house) they use for massaging tourists and started grogging.
There just happened to be a Fijian that had lived in Tonga a few years, so Sammy and Sami got to speak Tongan with him and plenty jokes came out of that conversation. When we were going through the similarities between counting in Tongan and Fijian, someone suggested that Tongan for “lima” (5) was “mi dra”, which means to “piss blood.” Afterwards, the Tongans, Miranda and I had small washdown[ii], taki’ing[iii] two longnecks back in Sabeto.
My visitors all left on Thursday last week, and being back at site feels really good this week, now that I am focusing all my efforts on site and am around after what feels like much too long. I’ll avoid running over with this blog post, and will write more about it in my next post, but the jist of it is that I’ve been really enjoying the environmental kick I’m on – bringing recycling to the school, running this environmental club every Monday afternoon and using it’s top brass to keep things moving.
[i] Moli is the collective term for citrus fruits, usually some kind of cross between lemon and lime.x`
[ii] Refers to drinking alcohol after grogging
[iii] Pouring small glasses to be guzzled in rounds every ten minutes or whenever someone calls