Sunday, December 26, 2010

Been a while since I have blogged. Internet connection can be very frustrating here.

Where to begin....

after 5 months we have real electricity in our home! (Before we were running an extension cord from the neighbors)

House is finished, small details left to do, but as we are on island time, it will gone done... eventually.

John and I snorkeling at 'Enio beach. this beach is beautiful! They also have a botanical gardens there as well, we have not yet gone to the gardens.

Kids are now officially on summer break - weird that it is December and it is hot and sunny here! Although I am very much enjoying it.

Kids could kind of swim when we came.. but are really turning into fish now! Josie wouldn't go into the water by herself, and she is now snorkeling! So proud of her.

My goal is to start blogging more, so you should see some more posts from me!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dancing and Singing

Most weekends at the market a village will come out or church group and sing and dance to entertain and "preach" at the people visiting the market.
This past week was our villages' week. So the kids at the village spent most nights up at the local hall so that they would all be ready for the big day of dancing. John, Josie and Detrix got asked to go!

Can you find them in the picture?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wedding Tongan style

We were invited to the minister's wedding in our village. The minister has only been in the village for 1 1/2 and is marrying a lady from the next village over. We were very happy to be invited to the wedding and feast. The night before the wedding the women decorated the church with beautiful flowers, and white clothes.The bride is in front, the man in white is the minister... don't know who the man in blue is!
Note: Behind the couple is a cement water tank it hold approx 10,000 Liters of rain water. The church has 3 of them and they are public water. Right now are village has no well water - the well was contaminated with salt water when the cyclone hit last year. The entire village is dependent on rain water.

The weddings here take place on Tue or Thursday, there is a party after the ceremony. Then the bride and groom go back to their seperate homes until Sunday when they present the bride at church and have a small ceremony. Sunday after the feast and ceremony the bride and groom then go to the house they will live in together.

Due to this wedding being the minister - nearly every family in the two villages prepared a table... In Tonga the more you have on your table the bigger status you have so the people literally spend an entire weeks salary or more preparing a table for others to eat at! The picture at the right is Maka, with the pig he killed for the feast. This was his own pig, and one of the bigger pigs he has.

The villagers also collected money over the past couple of months and purchased a couple of cows to eat at the feast. The following pictures are of the cows hanging from the trees after they were killed, and then the umu (underground oven) that they cook all the meat and vegetables in. The vegetables here are mainly sweet potatoes and taro leaves. Taro leaves are close to tasting like spinach.
I went up with Derrick to where they were preparing the meat. They were very happy to have me take pictures, I then realized there were no women at all near the umu or any of the slaughtered pigs and cows. I was quick and taking pictures then I left the men to cut up the meat and prepare the pigs and cow for the feast the next day! Derrick was invited to stay and he sat and drank kava (local plant root) and cut up cow.
The picture is of some of the men in the village who dug the umu. It was atleast 6' deep and 10' long! I think a total of 2 cows, 5 pigs, other various animals and all the sweet potatoes went into the umu to cook overnight.

The amount of food on each table was over whelming! Each table had on it; of oti ika (oh-tie-ee-ka) it is a raw fish in coconut juice with tomatoes and lime juice. Sweet and sour chicken, deep fried chicken, lu (corned beef wrapped in taro leaves) regular fish, chicken chow mein, mussels, clams, lobster and then in front of us was a whole cooked pig. I would guess there was over 300 people there from both villages. I must say my favorite thing to eat is the oti ika.... before coming here I had never tried raw fish, no sushi, nothing, but I wanted to try eveything when we moved here.. now it is one of my favorite things to eat!

We had a great time at the wedding and feast, I might still be full from all the food!

The last picture is of just one side of all the tables, there was a whole other group of tables set up to the right.

Monday, August 02, 2010

What a beautiful view we get to look at every day!

Yesterday was the King's birthday. Because it is a royal holiday everything was closed, after a brief trip into town, then realizing everything was closed, we did what anyone does on an island, piled everyone in the car and went snorkeling at the beach!

The kids played for a few hours in the water - it was perfect!

What do you get at the end of a rainbow? We got three wonderful children! We had a really nice wind and rain storm on Saturday night, right before the rain storm we looked off of the back porch and saw a rainbow. There are people in the background collecting mussels, they must not have known to dig under the rainbow to find the pot of Gold! We have already found the pot of gold, with the three kids!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "torch is coming"

So I while back we had big news in town that the Olympic Torch was coming through town. All kids went to town (instead of school) and lined the streets waiting for the torch to arrive. We had a few conversations about why the Olympic Torch would be touring around the world now, didn't the Olympics just take place?

We arrive at 9am and we purchase the country's flag for each child... The teachers then begin instructing the children that they are to stand on the sidewalk and proudly wave the flag when the torch comes by.

At 9:30 am we hear the plane fly over, this will be a while... the torch is coming from the airport to town a 15 minute drive. They will be running, ok we figure give them an hour, hour and a half... we will then see the torch. Over the next 3 hours we would continually go through a drill every 20 minutes or so of someone yelling, "here it comes!" All kids would then run to their designated spot and proudly hold out the flag. Minutes later we would be told, it was a false alarm. Pretty comical really. After 3 1/2 hours we finally see the torch coming. We were standing next to a gal from Austria and some other Americans we all wanted to know what torch was coming, it was not the Olympic Torch!

We found out it was the Common Wealth games torch! The next half hour the people from England, and Canada had to explain that the Common Wealth games take place with countries associated with England. (This is what was explained to me... if it is different, sorry I still don't know much about the Common Wealth Games!)
Can you see the torch? Definitely not the Olympic Torch!

The funniest part of the whole day: When the torch finally came - all kids ran from the sidewalk and crowded in the street. The people holding the torch (not an actual torch at all) were walking not even trying to run! Too funny.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

We have arrived! - In Tonga

Well hello there, blogging world! It has been a while. Most of you already know that we have moved to another country. We have moved to the South Pacific to the Kingdom of Tonga. Look it up on a map, it is near Fiji. We have been here for almost 3 months. For the first month we were living in an apartment, or what we like to call, “the oven” it was ridiculously hot at all times. We have since moved into our house that we finished while we were living in the apartment.

I wanted to start from the beginning and go through our lives as we arrived in Tonga, it has been quite a journey for us. Due to the length of the time we have now been here – I have decided that I will just tell you some of things that have happened in no particular order.

Josie and John arriving in Fiji - after our 10.5 hour flight!

So from the US, it is a bit of a journey to get to Tonga. If up in the Northwest area, it is a hop skip and a jump: First get to LAX, then LAX to Fiji (10.5 hour flight) , we spent the night in Fiji (wanted to give the kids some time to play) had a great time, there is a hotel literally right next to the airport that has a water slide we all had a great time. From Fiji to Tongatapu (main island group in Tonga) then finally from Tongatapu to Vava’u(the island group we live on)This is John at Tongatapu apon arrival! Why he is not smiling I don't know!

Whew… it was long trip especially with two kids in tow and 12 suitcases! The kids did amazingly well, I was jealous of them on the airplane when I looked over and they were sleeping, they looked so comfy all cozied up in the seats. We were fortunate and could sprawl out over 3 rows of seats! Little Josie finally conked out on the long LAX to Fiji flight, John was so excited to be on a BIG airlplane that he watched every movie on the movie channels, he finally fell asleep with only 3 hours left on the flight. So when we arrived in Fiji he was a bit tired.

We stayed one night at the resort across the street from the house we were finishing, and then moved into the apartment. The first night in the apartment we got all settled and put some rice on to start dinner. Then the lights went out. No power. Hmmm, I know I have a candle in one of the suitcases, search through 12 suitcases and finally find the candle – get it lit and then realize that the rice is completely burned! The stoves are all powered with butane gas so it kept cooking even when we had no power. Pretty funny, the kids were troopers and ate just rice for dinner. We were all so tired, we crawled into bed, and were out in no time.

Josie and John in Vava'u. First day at the beach in Tonga!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Tonga adventures

This a plantation on the small island of Tapana. If I remember correctly the island has 6 people, 2 dogs, and a goat.... Pretty cool.

There is a couple on the island that own the "Paella" resteraunt. The experience of going to this resteraunt, is not like any other I have ever had! Those of you that come and visit will want to venture out to this gem of a place. It is expensive, but worth it.

You drive to Ano beach at the end of the road on the island of Vavau. You then take a small dingy to the island. To get on the dingy you wade into the water (oh, I loved this!! It was great - warm beautiful water) It is about a 4 minute boat ride - unless you have 5 people on this tiny boat, then it is a bit longer! The bay you cross is absolutlely amazing! Yachts are anchored off in the distance, and sky is the clearest blue you can imagine. We left at 5:00 with the sky bright blue. It is very quiet and calm as you cross the bay.

(Picture on right is leaving Ano Beach)

As we arrive on Tapana island you are greeted by a small but nice beach.

The restaurant is only open by reservations when it is not tourist season. So when we arrived we were told to go explore the island. This was a wonderful way for us to see the beauty of Tonga. The first thing we came upon was rows and rows of pineapple plants. Now call me stupid, but I didn't know that pineapple does not grow on trees. Nope it is more like a "bush" it grows very low to the ground. The picture below is of the pineapple rows.

After "getting lost" trying to find the other beach - we made our way back to the restaurant. The restaurant and bungalows (you can spend the night) are very rustic, the views however are amazing. The bathroom is outdoor - very cool to see. Yes there was a toilet, and it flushed!

The two people that own the restaurant made everything by hand. The restaurant itself is made of coconut tree. The chairs and tables are all made from trees off the island. To see what one man put together was incredible.

Water is gathered from the rainfall. It is safe to drink the water, as we did not get sick! Yeah. that was good news.

As sun set we started to dine on traditional Spanish cuisine. The food was good, but I think the experience of being on the island was just special.

After the meal our hosts started to sing and play guitar, Eduardo was very quite all day, and then he came out of his shell as he started to play his guitar and serenade us with a traditional Spanish song. A "yachtie" - (person that travel around on yachts) joined in the fun too!

What made the whole experience extra special was the attitude of the owners.... "come take a look around, take your time" As we spoke with our hosts at the end of the evening she told us this story.....

Tonga is a different way of life, you are not in a hurry when living in Tonga. They see many tourists come and go all year long, they can always tell the difference between a tourist and person that lives in Vavau. Not necessarily by how they look but by how they react to situations. She said when foreigners get "stuck in the bay" if the boat breaks down or something goes wrong they hear the foreigners yelling and cursing. On the other hand if a boat breaks down, or stops and it is a local, you hear laughing. What else can they do? There is no point to yelling and screaming, someone will be by and pull them to shore.

We didn't know that we would have our own story to tell.....

As we left the island and got a ride back on the dingy. (It was dark out- nothing but the bright stars in the sky. We waded in the water and got in the boat) As we waited for Eduardo to start the engine..... we waited and waited..... and waited..... and waited..... he couldn't get the engine (it was a pull start motor) to cooperate. We sat uneasily at first... apprehensive to why the motor didn't start. Then as if we all remembered the story at once and we started to chuckle... really what could we do? We were still pretty close in about ten minutes into this Eduardo got the motor started. Derrick had been holding onto a rope to keep us from going back into shore, so Eduardo said let go of the rope. As Derrick let go, the engine stopped. It was. well really funny. So we sat and took in the night sky as Eduardo pulled the engine rope to get the boat to go! We finally got going and thoroughly enjoyed the ride across the bay.

If anyone comes to visit us, I highly recommend going on this adventure! It was a wonderful experience. Glitches and all - made it a memorable trip!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I wanted to get the photos up..... it has been many many months and way too long! I have some wonderful stories that will soon accompany these. Enjoy. Last year we took a trip to Tonga! Tonga is located in the South Pacific near Fiji. It was a wonderful trip, we had an amazing time. We went to Tonga to check out real estate and business opportunities. What we found was amazing people living in paradise! We are getting our ducks in a row so we can move to Tonga and start a business.

View from our hotel room in Vava'u, Tonga. An outer island in the Tonga group.

Derrick and I on our first day - putting our feet in the sand in Tongatapu. This is the main island.
these are kids playing along the water front in Neaifu, Vava'u. They play in the water after school. What fun they were having.

Stopping for some beers in the Mango cafe. Right on the water in Neiafu, Vava'u. This is located in the Port of refuge. The local 'yachties' hang out here. Great cold beer and wonderful pizza. Foster and Derrick.

This is at the Kaleti resort on the main island of Tonga. The city is Tongatapu. Beautiful white sand beaches.


One of our bungalows at the resort. Two rooms with an adjoining bathroom.

Derrick and I on tapa island. We went to a paella restaurant there.