Vava'u Peace Corps Updates

Since I've been a Peace Corps volunteer, we have never had every Vava'u volunteer in the same room at the same time. Generally there is one or sometimes two people missing. Often it is because two of our volunteers live on outer islands and we don't see them as often. Last Friday, to celebrate the one year anniversary of Group 73, my group, in Tonga, we ended up with every Vava'u volunteer in the Peace Corps office at the same time. The first time that has happened.

These are people I associate with most often. From left to right are Sarah Kate, Jessica, me, James, Sarah, Shannon, Stan, Amy and Janis. Our group will soon start to get even smaller as the members of Group 72 start to complete their service. They will be wrapping up just about the time the new group of volunteers will swear-in and begin their service.

New Peace Corps Trainees (Group 74)

There should now be 24 new Peace Corps Trainees in Tonga.  I haven't met them yet. They were scheduled to arrive on the main island this morning.  They are due to arrive in Vava'u next Wednesday and will train here for six weeks.   Some of the trainees have blogs, which are listed below.
There are 10 men and 14 women in the new group.  Of those, there are two married couples.  We have 10 business trainees and 14 education trainees.  Everyone is between the ages of 22 and 30 except for two men and one woman who are in their 60's.  


There is a new member of my household here in Vava'u. His name is Solitia, which means Soldier in Tongan.

Solitia has spent the last two years with Justin, who just completed his Peace Corps service and has left the country. Solitia is a great dog, but she doesn't like to be left alone. The first few days he was at my house, Solitia would climb back up the hill to Justin's old house. Then last week he followed me to work and I had to walk him back home.

The most amazing moment was last Friday when I joined all of the other volunteers and about 25 other people to watch the Vice Presidential Debate. We all gathered at a bar on the far end of town, that is down on the water. To get there, you have to take the main road then walk down some steep steps, by another bar and around several corners before you get to the bar. Even for a person, it can be a hard place to find. About an hour into the debate, Solitia came walking into the bar. I have NO IDEA how he found the place or even knew we were all there. I had no leash so I coaxed him back up the stairs and to the Peace Corps office which is near-by. From there, I found an old piece of wire and used it as a leash to get him back up the hill to my house.

I'm sure he is a bit confused still about where Justin is but was amazed he was able to find us.

Tapa for Cars?

I've been meaning to share this photo for a while and haven't gotten around to it. As you walk up the hill to my house, there is a car repair shop with a bunch of abandoned vehicles out front. The road to my house is also the same road you would take to get to the Royal Palace. During the coronation activities here in Vava'u in August, everyone cleaned up and there was no litter to be found. That presented a problem for the owners of the repairs shop. Instead of moving the cars, they decided to cover them in tapa.

Tapa is the bark of a tree that is pounded by hand and then stained. It's probably the most famous type of Tongan handicraft and it takes many months to create a full size piece of Tapa. A Tapa the size of these would sell for well over a thousand dollars. I found it funny that they would take something so valuable and use it to cover up junked cars. The day after the king left, the tapa was gone.

Interesting Reading

Here are a couple of things I found online you might be interested in checking out.

Also, you might enjoy reading this blog from some people who recently visited Vava'u. Lots of nice photos in it. It's in two parts. Tonga Part One and Tonga Part Two.

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