Friday, December 26, 2008

Home in time for Christmas

I am home for Christmas. It's awesome!

At first it was really very surreal - seeing my little house, after 169 days of absence and so much water passing under the metaphorical bridge, was BIZARRE. But it very quickly became divine to be home. The dog, the chickens, the rabbit. The young natives that have all grown a few centimetres since I've been away, and my rose bushes and fruit trees which I'm sure have all doubled in size!

Most tremendous of all is being in this space with Clinton, who I am going to marry in a few months and who has been the most faithful of caretakers since I've been gone. I feel so soothed at the thought of starting our life together in the Ainslie house. Everything else may be up in the air (work, life after Tonga), but the old cliche of home is where the heart is feels very true to me. It is simply wonderful to be with him again, and to share the space we created together, though it's only for a few days.

Other things I'm loving are HOT showers, clean toilets, my Mum's cooking, the sounds of birds always in the background (not roosters!), and snuggling under a doona at night.

But being here also throws into sharp relief the many wonderful things about Tonga. First and foremost is the laid back lifestyle. People don't yell at you because they hate their jobs and they want to exercise the tiny modicum of power that they hold; no-one beeps at you if you're at a traffic light for.3 of a second after it turns green (though that's just speculation, because there are no traffic lights in Tonga!).

If the saying that Time is Money is true, then it follows that a culture that does not emphasize money as much as we do is also a bit more relaxed about time. Seriously, if you miss this traffic light, is sitting there for another 90 seconds really going to kill you?

Being in Australia I am reminded of how seriously people take themselves. Achievement of the individual is emphasised to the dertiment of the community. But in Tonga, no-one goes hungry at Christmas. This might sound like I'm romanticising this South Pacific island culture, but as far as I can see it's really the truth.

Anyway, I hope everyone out there is having a Merry Xmas. I know I certainly am, even if part of it has been realising exactly how much bullshit we (supposedly chilled-out and laid back Aussies) carry around as part of our everyday lives!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tonga the Trusting

Yesterday I went to one of the good shops (ie it occasionally sells soy milk, and if you're lucky brown rice), which is near my new house, thinking I'd quickly grab a few things before they closed for the day.

I only had fifty pa'anga on me, but I got so excited by the brown rice and Vita Weats that my groceries ended up costing more. Instead of telling me to buy only what I could afford or piss off, the very relaxed check-out girl told me that it was fine for me to take the stuff home and come back tomorrow to pay the remainder.

How awesome is that!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some more stuff I like about Tonga:Going off The Wall

I do need to occasionally remind myself about the things I enjoy about being in Tonga. One of the biggies is snorkelling. And the fact that you don't have to travel far to get good snorkelling. In all honesty, though I've seen an excellent assortment of fish in Vava'u and even on Fafa Island resort, the best coral variety has definitely been right here in Nuku'alofa, off The Wall in Sopu.

The pics above and below were taken last Saturday, when a group of 6 of us went off The Wall - this involves walking for about 500m to the reef's edge through waist-deep water, and then timing your entry and exits off the reef with the waves so as not to get smashed up on coral - best done an hour or two after high tide!