…for such a time as this

Stories about the adventure that is Peace Corps Tonga

More Visitors to the Kingdom

My days in Ha’apai are ordinarily the same day in and day out. I wake up, go to school, go to a ministry to write, eat, take a bucket bath and repeat. This is not necessarily a complaint, you know what’s coming when you wake up but the monotony of it all can get to you.
My Aunt Cindy and Nana had been planning a trip to The Friendly Islands for almost a year. Ask any volunteer, since we’ve experienced so many ups and downs, a trip like this means a big up for at least a month. I wanted this so badly, with only 5 months to go, I needed a push to get me to the end.
But, knowing Tonga, the unreliability of it all, I have taught myself not to get too excited about anything before it actually happens. Aunt Cindy was so kind to fly me from my island to the main island to meet them but in the back of my mind, I was still thinking,
“What if they can’t land because of strike…cyclone…pig on the runway…?”
The excuses only go on and on.
But, as I waited at the outdoor viewing area of the Nuku’alofa International Airport, I saw the Air New Zealand flight land. I waited patiently to see them de-boarding the plane. Finally (they were last for goodness sakes!) they came down the stairs onto the tarmac and waved and smiled! I took in a long sigh of relief, they were finally here.
What a trip it was. We began by driving into the capital with Tai my favorite taxi driver. We stayed at Loumalie Lodge right in the center. We caught up, opened my huge rolling duffle bag of stuff from home including CHEESE, hot sauce, pictures, sandals, goodies for friends and snacks. We spent the next day walking around, enjoying coffee, meeting other PCVs and touring the Peace Corps Office. Then it was off to FaFa Resort for a few days of relaxation.
The birds enjoyed sitting with us as we laughed about family stories (Yes, Uncle Dave…the same ones! Some things just never change). With Nana, I always get to enjoy fine wine and dining. I had braised octopus one evening with a Chardonnay from New Zealand. We walked through the bush, saw the parrots, collected shells and took lots of naps.
Next stop….Ha’apai! Motofonua Lodge of course took great care of my family and I. Aunt Cindy and I enjoyed snorkeling with the blue starfish and Nimo. Nana especially liked visiting my classroom. I had prepped the students that this was the family that sent our set of Island of the Blue Dolphins. Without me having to say a thing, they thanked my Nana, all in English! We read a chapter together with me doing my normal theatrics to make sure they understand what’s going on in the story.


The Long Beach Press Telegram encourages you to take pictures with the front page of the newspaper and then they will publish it. Of coarse we did it, as my mom says,
“We’ve always flirted with show business”
The kids aren’t used to smiling in pictures, so I reminded them that they would get to be in a newspaper if they smiled nicely, they did, as you can see.
We walked around sleepy Ha’apai and met all the characters. The secretary of the governor, the post office staff that so faithfully gets me my packages, my principal, went into the bookstore and enjoyed a pizza lunch at the one restaurant. It all went by so fast.
This was a much easier good-bye then when my parents came. I get to see everyone in 5 short months! But, I am so thankful for their trip.

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1 Comment»

  Lynn wrote @

Great story, Juliegh! It made me feel like I had a visitor. Lynn


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