Sunday, April 17, 2011

New home

Well where to begin… This is probably one of the biggest culture shocks I’ve had in a long time. There are so many hidden rules and regulations we have to follow. Let’s just start from the beginning. You MUST at all times wear skirts or capris that are longer then your knees, if your knees are showing it is equivalent to flashing someone. It isn’t so bad or rude for us “ palanigas” or white people to show our knees if we are going to the beach or are around the hosue but if we are around young boys they don’t know how to react to it because they never see girls knees or legs. It is respectful to take your shoes off before ever entering a house, you should shower before you go to sleep and when you wake up, and I mean I could live with that with this humidity. Let’s see the hierarchy system is very tricky, the men are higher up then women are unless you are the grandmother or the dads sister then you have the power. The young kids especially boys do not dine with you. It was weird before we had lunch there was a group of two older white women, the man of the house, Drew, Rachel and I and we were the only ones sitting eating the other kids were off away from where we were and they were eating. We had to go first and get our food, I tried everything because I didn’t want to be rude…I ate some sort of fish, chicken, sweet potatoes that were purple, these other root things, watermelon and the worst but I tried a bite anyways was lamb ribs. It was hard to eat it but the taste wasn’t that bad. I would never order it from a menu but I was hungry and didn’t want to be rude.  The worst part was the meat had sat out for hours before anything was done with it. When we woke up this morning  we walked outside to where they were preparing the day’s meal and watched as they carved out the cocoanut and cleaned these tapa leaves that the lamb was later cooked in. The lamb was wrapped in these leaves along with the cocoanut milk and onions then it was baked for a few hours over a large lava rock. The process to get cocoanut milk is a large process, you have to carve out the middle then strain the milk out I think it took an hour and a half or two hours to do like 8 cocoanuts. We met this one lady who gave us the 411 on the way Tongans do things and the rules we should follow. It was a lot to take in and hopefully we don’t mess up. I thought I already had the chickenpoxs….oh wait those are just mosquito bites. Last night I had this little coil repellent next to my bed that was burning in full force, I don’t think it’s healthy to breath that in but too late now. So we went to sleep around 9 and didn’t end up falling asleep until close to 11 because of the noise of this little kid who is SO loud. Our sleeping arrangement…when we first arrived they said we could each have our own room, ehhh nope there was no way we were staying in separate rooms! It is so hot at night you can only use a sheet; I’ve only been in this situation one other time while at a cabin a couple summers ago, it was so hot and we didn’t want to open the door or the bugs would come in. So at least I was sort of prepared for this sleeping thing. We do have a fan that helps keep us cool and the mosquitoes away, especially when it is on full force. There are a bunch of dogs around here and they are very small dogs, around the house we are staying in there are a few dogs, pigs and chickens. When  I showered this morning it was with cold water, and I must say it was the fastest shower I’ve ever taken.  Around umm 3 we were put to bed to take a nap, I can’t remember the last time I had to take a nap. We were sort of unsure on what to do because we were not tired so we played some cards, a little speed, go fish, and war the we laid down and stared at the ceiling and this got so boring that I fell asleep for a good 45 minutes. We didn’t do much after we woke up went on a drive to drop off one of Drew’s nephews at the boarding school then we came home and no one was here, Drew went to sleep and Rach and I just went to our room and played more cards. All of the kids here go to boarding school and they go Monday through Friday it is a lot like college. They stay in dorm rooms which give a whole new appreciation to the dorm rooms back home, we thought ours were small these have bunk beds and there are like 4 or more guys to a room. Every Sunday and Wednesday the families bring the kids food and hang out for a while. The kids have to work in the farm fields, it is pretty much child labor and they get beat if they are out of line in the schools. I’m a little nervous to be going into the schools and see this, I hope they don’t do it around me. We won’t be in the schools this week because there is a big sporting competition. All of the other schools of the islands come here and people drop what they do to watch it. I’m not sure what else we have going on. They were not lying when they said time stops when you get to Tonga. There is a King who rules the island and he has a palace close to where we are staying, it is so pretty it’s just my kind of house a huge Victorian style white house with a wrap around porch and white pillars. Beautiful. Tonga is not very civilized, they have a couple grocery stores, everything has to be shipped in a couple restaurants and fruit markets. People here don’t do a lot for work, they don’t have any money so they mostly grow their own food and try to sell it to make money to pay for the school fees. The people here do a lot on Friday night well the drunks do, and we were told not to go running Saturday morning by where we live because that is where all of the drunks sleep, there were a lot of people out Saturday night walking around and going to do their last minute shopping. They have to do this because on Sunday everything closes down and I mean everything. The only thing open is the churches and a bread shop where you can get bread milk and butter. Oh speaking of these the milk here is 3% fat, and the butter for 1tbs I think it was 12g of fat. You can’t even write a check that was dated on a Sunday or it will not be accepted. I still have my cold so that sucks, it keeps me awake at night coughing and I feel bad because I don’t want to wake anyone up. I hope this passes soon. 

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