…for such a time as this

Stories about the adventure that is Peace Corps Tonga

Transporting a washing machine

It seems like about every other month or so, I am able to get out to Ha’ano, a small island Northwest of mine.  My friend and fellow volunteer Blair lives there. She is so kind to open up her home to us each time we come. This was actually a special trip because Blair had purchased a washing machine and now had to get it to her island. I volunteered to join this expedition.

We began the journey by lugging the machine out to the side of the road where we hoped to suto (hitch a ride) to the end of the next island to catch a boat to her village. We had made a few calls, looking for a boat to take us. Since there was a funeral at the end of the island, we figured there would be a few boats there to take participants home.

We were quite the sight to see. Us, our luggage and a huge box. The first truck that stopped (after us waiting for only 5 minutes) was the pastor of the Pentecostal church that I’ve been going to. He said that he could take us to kolo, which means town. Now “town” is just where there are a few stores lined up, it’s not the big apple or anything. But, I thought he had said “Koulo” (you know it sounds so different than kolo. not) which is actually a village about half way towards our destination. I was excited. We heaved the machine in the back of the truck and jumped in. About a minute later, the truck stopped. I was confused; we had made it about 2 blocks. Ok, now to find the next ride.

We sat and sat, talked with passerby’s, drank a soda…two hours later, another truck came and we loaded up. We got down to the wharf and waited some more. On the end of the wharf were three boys,  preparing a pig for the funeral (at funerals in Tonga, the family who lost the family member provides a lavish feast for all of the attendees), then we saw the head of a cow sitting on top of one of the boats. I hoped I didn’t have to sit next to that.

During our waiting for the boat to leave, I got to hold a baby. It’s been a long time since I’ve held a small child. At home, I loved spending time with little kids, I am not sure why I don’t see more small children here.

Finally, it was time to leave. Some nice guys from Ha’ano loaded the washing machine onto the boat and we were off. What’s great about boat travel between islands is that it’s such a beautiful ride. We stay close to shore and get to sit on top of the boat. I sat with Sila, a friend from Ha’ano. We joked and laughed our way to Ha’ano. The guy sitting behind me had a Sony Walkman, remember those things? It said it was “car ready.” I laughed. He gave me the ear phones at one point and I listened to the latest in “popular music” such as “Roll the Credits” by Paula Deanda and a pop version of “Ave Maria.”

We got to Ha’ano and Grant picked the machine up and carried it to Blair’s house. It was quite the long trip, totaling about 4 hours, it’s a 12 miles away.

The rest of the weekend was lovely. Here are some highlighs:

Jesus Doesn’t Like Liars

Blair and I were to’as (served kava) to her community. I love the kava circle in Ha’ano. It’s warm and jovial. The men are not crude and they have Sky TV. We watched rugby! Such a clash of cultures, sitting in a traditional tongan kava hut with cable TV. Globalization at its finest. Also, John made a joke about “What would Jesus do?” and later on, one of the guys in the circle was joking with me about Sila and I said that he was not my boyfriend. The guy told me that Jesus doesn’t like liars. It’s stuff like that, where they pick up on our joking in English and bring it into conversation later that I love.

Shooting Stars
Todd, the fire master and John, the Eagle Scout made us a roaring bond fire one night. We enjoyed s’mores (with help from care packages) and watched shooting stars.

Eating fish 10 minutes after they’d been caught
John, Sila, Todd, and Grant went spear fishing for us one afternoon. They caught so many fish! We enjoyed the fish ota (raw) on the beach then cooked the rest with some root crops. The guys climbed some coconut trees and we had fresh coconut milk with our meal. We really ate off of the land that day!

…and the clincher…..

“Blair, Blair, Blair…there’s a whale!”
The guys left Ha’ano on Sunday and I decided to stay a few extra days for some girl time. I was sitting outside on Blair’s porch on Tuesday morning enjoying a cup of coffee and reading. I heard something in the water and looked up. There was a whale not 100 yards from where I was sitting! I ran inside yelling to Blair, grabbed my camera and hopped her stone fence. We stood in amazement watching the whale as it went back out to sea. I guess that whales migrate through Tonga and mate. I am hoping this is just the beginning of the whale sightings!

Another lovely 5 days in Ha’ano.



  Cindy wrote @

A cows head? How random is that? Some of the stuff you’ve seen is so bizarre!
The whale is totally cool, I think Tonga is on one of the paths of the whales for mating and birthing their young. Hopefully, you will see more! Too cool! Love, Cindy

  Heidi wrote @

the washing machine trek sounds epic and hilarious. I wonder if the postal service here would be able to handle it. The shooting stars, smores and whale watching sounds awesome. any idea what species of whale you see there?

  Rubina wrote @

I follow your blog for a long time and must tell you that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers. Keep it up.

  Maureen wrote @

Great talking with you tonight, Juleigh, and great blog & photo’s… 🙂 Love & Hugs to you!

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