Just a few fun stories and great memories from my time in Tonga
For the past number of years the Billfish Bar has run Mr. Beer competition, but this year the name was changed to Mr. Maka, maka being the Tongan brand. It consisted of 4 young hunks between the ages of 18 and 22, all strutting their stuff. But it wasn’t all beauty and brawn, they also had to demonstrate cultural values and knowledge and show leadership potential.
It was great fun, and I fear I may have acted as bad as some of the other ladies, well maybe not quite. But it was a great hoot and nothing quite as much as screaming for your favorite hunk. And having Miss Ribena and her/his sidekick, Venus, as our hosts and entertainment just made the night even more fun.
Of course the highlight of my evening was when some of the lads were pulled out to dance (please note: dancing with a Tonga could be considered an agreement of marriage). One of the lads was dancing in our group and then he gave me a thumbs up, winked and lei’d me. Mmmm I wonder if I have left Tonga engaged…and I didn’t even know his name????
Pangimoto is an island about a 15min boat ride from the dock. It costs 20 Pa’anga ($16) return and is the palangi (foreigner) hang out on sundays. I got the chance to go just once and it was amazing. I managed to get in some snorkeling, shell collecting, ate a fruit platter and then for the heck of it took a stroll around the island.
Technically 50% would be a wade around as I chose high tide. But it was just amazing and you feel so remote when you are on the far side of the island and all you see is blue water and the occasional palm tree laden islands dotted here and there.
Sized up for marriage??
On our first village visit I spent a lot of the time pre-medding animals and also watching them recover. Sometimes they have bad wake ups and can get a little tripped out, so its always good to have one of us close at hand.
During one of these occasions I believe I might have been sized up for compatibility by one of the owners as I recovered his dog. The conversation went something like this:
Owner – Are you single?
Me – yes
Owner – how old are you?
Me – 34
Owner – same age as me, I am 33. I am police, personal guard to the king, only police in this village.
(right at that point I got called away, but there was definately a direction he had in mind)
During the same visit we had to neuter a fairly large dog. As our location was a large hall, we often had people stand and watch us. And while I might not speak Tongan, I definately understood the comments as I clipped and then cleaned the testicles of this dog.
Shortly after, when I was again recovering an animal, the policeman said something to the boys (who had been making comments during the surgery prep), they all laughed and then he said to me:
Owner – that boy wants the doctor to take his balls
Me – Yo, Alice, he wants you to neuter him
Alice (vet) – sure come on over, I have a table ready!
This was met with much laughter and all 3 of the guys covering their privates and looking a tad nervous.
Enima, rural style
On our second village visit, we had the boss of the two Tongan guys who help us as a vet and vet assist, bring us his dog who did not look well at all. It appeared that he had a severe case of constipation. We had to perform an enima but with no supplies we had to turn to the hardware store.
The owner brought us a brand new hosepipe (cost 80 pa’anga about $65). He said when he left this morning his young son and told him to “save my dog please”. So he was ready to do whatever it took or cost.
We had to put the dog under anesthetic as this was going to be exceptionally painful. While I monitored, Alice used the hose to get water up the anus. She also had to manually remove as much debris as possible. She pulled out large chunks of bone and what appeared to be hair. We later realised that the dog had most likely eaten coconut husks and the hair had matted with the bones and cause this severe plus. Alice and Mote (the Tongan vet assistant) had to get quite physical to move the mass of debris through the pups system. The poor animal would be walking funny for a few days after this. The entire time we were conscious that the vigorous actions might lead to a bone puncturing the intestines, but there was no other option.
We gave him lots of pain medication and hoped he would pull through and start having bowel movements. At the end Alice told the owner he owed her a beer… he bought us a case!
I am happy to report that the dog’s bowel movements were back to normal within a few days and there seemed to be no adverse effects.
I had heard that there was a taekwondo gym on the island and I really wanted to go. But without transport or knowledge of where it was I figured it would most likely not happen. Luckily during one of Zettie’s (one of the 4 amazing South Africans I met) dinner parties, her bosses wife invited me to join her daughter and even said she would pick me up and drop me off.
It was a fantastic class. The instructor was very knowledgeable and the students were very welcoming. It also felt brilliant to do the moves and exercises. I forgot how much I enjoyed the art. I managed to go to a total of 3 classes and loved every minute of it, even if I couldn’t walk probably the following day.
More stories to come…