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Tonga – Days 178 to 208 cont… Umus and markets

O’holei Resort…show and umu

One of our owners happened to run the O’holei Resort and offered us some free and discounted tickets to their show and umu feast. So after work 5 of us piled into the car and after getting lost a few times on the 2 main roads in Tonga we finally found the resort. I offered to be designated driver and we settled in for a grand evening.

The Umu is a traditional feast that is mostly cooked in the ground. This one was amazing and consisted of sweet potato, plantains, potato salad, kasava, sea cucumber, sea urchin, clams, teryaki chicken, sushimi, steamed fish and the suckling pig. For desert there was bread fruit pudding. I just barely managed to fit in a second helping, all dished up on plates made from the stems of banana palms.

the group


This little piggy came to dinner

Then it was time to go into the cave and have the show. The cave was a natural outcropping of rock and created the perfect stage for a truly spectacular show of Tongan dance and fire twirling. The young performers were outstanding and many said O’holei had the best show out there. Half way through our host introduced 2 members of the group that are from the far flung island of Niu. The dialect of this island is a lot faster and sound downright comical. The following exchange happened as the host pointed to me:

Host – tell her she is beautiful
Performer – I think she has husband
I shake my head
Host – see no husband, tell her she is beautiful
Performer – I am sure she has boyfriend
Again I shake my head
Host – see I told you!
Performer – mumbles something in top speed and then shyly dashes away.

I know it was all part of the show and have no idea what he actually said, but who cares, every little bit is good for the ego. They then continued with the dancing. In Tonga they often smear a sticky substance on the dancers or newly weds and encourage the audience to plaster them with money, much to the chagrin of the banks who have to have the money sent away for industrial strength cleansing.

Our Host


Dancers

End of clinic Umu

The ministry did an Umu for us on the last day of the clinic. Mote stayed home all day cooking for us, apparently he did everything, except the last section of turning the pig which his son did after school. The feast was amazing! Thank you so much to the Ministry of Agriculture, to Mote for cooking and Nau for organising everything.

mmmm pig, thats whats for dinner


Mote the chef


Food glorious food!

Markets, Markets, Glorious Markets

As much as I hate shopping, definately missed out on that gene, I love exploring markets and haggling for deals. Give me a market in a 3rd world country any day. The markets in Tonga did not disappoint. You could get anything from Levis to Old Spice to a fur coat.

Market day is called “The Fair” and runs on weekends. It is the place to be and thing to do, not only because you see everyone you know but its also the best time to find the random little necessities such as shampoo or imported canned fruit. It is hard to truly describe the 3 markets so here is a photo gallery dedicated to each one:

Market 1 – along main road

from traditional to modern


all you need or don't need


these somehow disturb me


Lovely people


Jolly jumper with your lawn mower???

Market 2 – along water front, known as “the fair”

Fur coat in 90C weather anyone?

when it rained...it poured


what can I say...


A vital part of any Tongan wardrobe

Fish section of The Fair

All the colours of the rainbow


Got crabs?

not quite sure... but its meant to be edible

Market 3 – Fruit and Crafts

Fruit and veggies


peanuts!


tables and tables of produce


Tapa Handbag anyone?


beautiful people


Market street


negotiating for Tapa


Sita painting Tapa

To follow: Adventures on the Island of ‘Eua, getting my flirt on and woodcarvings!

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Tonga – Days 178 to 208 cont… Fun Memories!

Just a few fun stories and great memories from my time in Tonga

Mr. Maka

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????

The winner on left, runner up on right


second runner up and my "lei"


I got lei'd in Tonga

Pangimoto

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.

Island Girl


island life


coconut palms anyone?

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.

My potential suiter is the one to the left

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.

Taekwondo

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…

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Tonga – Days 178 to 208

1st August thru 30th August 2011

Disclaimer: Management wishes to apologize for the lack of posts in the last month. Due to lack of reliable internet in the Kingdom of Tonga and other extraneous circumstances I have not been able to publish any posts.

General Overview

My time in Tonga was both the best and worst times I have had. Due to misunderstanding and assumptions certain personality conflicts came into play with my volunteer team. But I made the best of it and the following entries will focus on the good times.

Flying into The Kingdom of Tonga


Why go to Tonga

I had barely even heard of the Kingdom of Tonga and whenever someone asked me where it was my reply was “Somewhere north between Australia and New Zealand in the middle of the South Pacific”. Then I came across a fantastic volunteer group focusing on spaying and neutering the local dogs and cats. I was very excited and asked to join the August team. I was accepted and really looking forward to it. This group, still in its infant days, has great promise and, in my opinion, with a little more organisation, will prove to be a driving force in changing the views of islanders to their pets.

one of the little cuties

The Clinic

The Clinic

Renting a clinic that used to service human patients, we regularly saw between 5 and 10 patients a day. I spent most of my time cleaning and doing auctoclaving to sterilise the instruments. I went not knowing much about making kits and left an expert at packing, folding and sterilising. We even treated pets of the royalty including an awesome dog named Bill who had to have his leg amputated after being hit by a car.

Bill, pre- amputation


Bill with his rubbish bin cone, post amputation


On our second to last day of the clinic the word had suddenly got out and we saw over 30 animals. We all worked non stop. At one point I was monitoring 2 animals at the same time inbetween trying to sterilise and have new packs ready for the next in line.

Village Visits

Another important aspect of our clinic duties was to visit local villages and bring the doctors to them. I got to go on 2 of these trips and they were some of my best times in Tonga. The people were amazing, the kids staring at house through the windows were ridiculously cute. There is nothing quite like realising we had to do surgeries on random sized tables, the docs had to scrub up in a bucket and on the rare occasion we ran out of kits we would reuse the same kit on sibling animals.

Setting up


scrubbing up for surgeries


Surgery with an audience


our audience


preparing for surgery

School visits

Another important aspect was school visits. The best way to educate is to start with the children. I was not given an opportunity to join one of the visits but heard they were very successful.

Photos

My sterilization room


Bat Dog?


cutey for neuter

Following entries will focus on non-clinic activities and some of the fun times I had well in Tonga

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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