Monday, March 30, 2009

Seriously fed up with ASSHOLES!

Ok, so the last few weeks in Tonga have been fantastic - knowing that I'm leaving soon has made me want to savour every bit of this place that I can... except ONE particular aspect, that has given me the raging SHITS.

Upon my return from Australia, my flatmate had pretty much moved her Tongan boyfriend into our house, without even asking me if this was ok. Whatever, I'm leaving in a matter of weeks, and at least now we're splitting bills and rent 3 ways (as opposed to when he wasn't officially living there, just staying over every single night and every single day...).

However, Tonga is a very conservative country. You've heard some of the dramas caused by the inter-racial relationship, ie getting kicked out of our house last year, etc. Now that my flatmate and her boyfriend are very obviously "living in sin", our neighbourhood is expressing it's disdain. This is being done through actions such as wandering around our yard and peering into bedroom windows at night, breaking locks on our gate and door, and urinating on the combination lock of our gate. These things have happened at least 3-4 times a week since he moved in, and I have had an absolute GUTFUL. Especially as, being the first one to leave the house, I am the one cleaning the urine off the lock every morning!

It's fine for the neighbours to make use of having a Tongan living there to demand we refill their water bottles, and let them help themselves to our breadfruit and banana trees, but they're still going to be assholes and piss on our gate! Ok, so it's probably not the SAME people, but still, they are pretty much sanctioning these actions by not intervening with those who are committing them, as everyone knows what's going on at any given moment in the neighbourhood.

I didn't come to Tonga to offend the locals, or to cause any trouble. I'm not stealing anybody's job, or appropriating their culture. I'm not even (currently) living in sin! In fact, I am pretty much a bystander as to the main reason for this victimisation, but it affects me nonetheless. If I wasn't going to be leaving the country for good in little more than a month I would seriously move out. As it was, at 5:30 am this morning when some neighbourhood kid jumped into our backyard and unplugged our water pump, I was very seriously thinking about just throwing in the towel and trying to find a short-term rental.

The thing is, this place is so close to town, so will be convenient for Clinton (who has no bike) when he's here. I've also moved house FIVE TIMES since arriving last July, I really DON'T want to do it again! I guess I'm just going to have to put up with it, and add it to my list of "Things I Won't Miss About Tonga" (I've been working on that, and a "Things I Will Miss About Tonga" list, as a way of concreting the reality of leaving and apreciating this place while I still can!).

I know it's just a few neighbourhood troublemakers, and doesn't refelect the animosity of the whole community, but it still leaves me feeling irritated and disappointed. My advice to future AYADs would be - DON'T live with a couple who are overtly flaunting all the local social conventions! It's just not worth it, for your own peace of mind.

Monday, March 23, 2009


(BTW< I didn't make up that title myself, some official in Tonga decided to spend a bazillion dollars hiring Satchi & Satchi to come up with a snappy title for the nation, and that's what they got!)

You know, some of the most incredible things I've experienced in Tonga have been the most unexpected things. Sure, you expect that the locals will be lovely, and the beaches pristine, and the awesome coral gardens will provide fabulous snorkelling... but volcanoes popping up in the middle of the ocean? Wasn't really on my list of expectations!

Last Friday I was fortunate to be on the inaugural scenic flight to the Hunga Volcano, along with 5 other people, and this is what I saw!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Recent Eruptions

Because Tonga is located on the edge of a tectonic plate it does get frequent earthquakes, though they are usually tremore and nothing to worry about. However, Tonga is also located on what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire (cool name, I know!), which is basically a massive area of submarine volcanic activity.

A couple of days ago, a new eruption occured from the Hunga caldera, which has not erupted since 1988. You can see the plume of smoke from the waterfront road here in Nuku'alofa.

Tonga is amazing for this kind of stuff - new islands appear, hang around for a bit, and then are pulled back into the ocean never to be seen again. It's quite eerie in a way, especially having come from a country which has been solid, virtually unchanged land mass for millenia!
Thanks to whoever posted these pics of the Hunga erruption - taken on a flight south to Tongatapu from Vava'u!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

3 weeks to go...

It's 3 weeks to go until I will no longer apart from Clinton. I won't be finishing up in Tonga until May, but after the wedding we'll be returning to Tonga together for 3 1/2 weeks, and won't need to be parted again.

The psychological advantage that knowing this gives to this last small gap of time is so marked - it's like now I can just sit back and relax, and just enjoy what I have here. It makes me realise how much of an effect being apart from my partner has had on my experience here. Don't get me wrong, I have had periods of loving it here, but there is always a part of me that wishes C was here with me, or I was there with him.

The first 4 months were easy, it was a new place, I had no association of him being here, and I was loving everything (except the skin diseases!). Then he came for a visit, and it brought the realisation that even Tonga was better with C in it! After that the missing and the yearning started in earnest, and the past 4 months have been a lot more challenging.

Still, I have really appreciated this time, my own journey, my own experience. I am, however, looking forward to sharing my last weeks in Tonga with Clinton. I think it will be a really positive way to end my time here, and a nice way to meld my Tongan AYAD experience, with my life with Clinton, and the start of our marriage.

The last trip home (the birthday surprise that turned into dengue) also made me feel that I am ready to return. At Christmas, I felt very iffy about the whole thing, and being home made me want to cling tighter to Tonga. But now I feel much more ready. Not hanging out for it, just mentally and emotionally ready to deal with that change. But for the present I am really happy being in Tonga, living in the present and enjoying everything this country has to offer.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cultural Differences

You know how in Australia, if someone tells you that you look like you've lost weight it's a compliment?

Here in Tonga it's a sign of concern - because surely no-one would WILLINGLY lose weight, so obviously you must have been sick or something!

I find this small difference a very refreshing change!