I've been busy learning the Taolunga (the Traditional Tongan Dance) and Una has been helping me.
She's gives me pointers on how to hold my hands, how to move gracefully ("not like a man") and where to put my feet so I don't fall over.
And it all came down to tonight and dancing in front of about 100 people at Fatumu's konseti.
I've been nervous all week about this, but knowing that Una is going to be up there doing it with me eases some of my tension.
TEFL and Language Class finish for the day and I go home to Una. Una and I review the dance again. She does my hair. We laugh about how the costume is nearly the same color as my skin and she put hers in my bag.
We walk over to the house where Una's mother (Una Lahi) lives and wait until it's our turn to enter the Kava Hall and dance. Sidenote: Tongan Time is still something I am getting use to - the concert was scheduled to start at 8pm, but didn't get rolling until 9:15pm and I didn't perform until 10:30pm.
Una helps pin me into my dress, put on my special kiekie and when I ask her why she isn't getting ready she says, "Mandy, I'm not wearing the costume."
Okaaaay, that's cool, but at least you'll still be up there with me.
"I didn't bring one. See?" Una says holding up what I think was the costume earlier but actually is just an extra piece of material.
We eventually make our way over to the Kava Hall (where most of my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers and many villagers were) and I am nervous.
As we are waiting and I'm secretly doing some deep breathing exercises, I feel a searing pain shoot up my right foot. I move into the light and realize that I have been bitten by an ant (I'm allergic). So as my foot is swelling and going numb and I'm checking myself for hives, I get called up to Taolunga. I turn to Una to beckon her to come with me and she shakes her head and says "Mandy, I'm too shy."
So I go and perform anyway and I end up earning $400 for the village of Fatumu. Even with my swollen foot.
Here's some evidence from tonight. There will be more pictures later, I promise. There may even be a video involved. It ended up being a lot of fun and it looks like I may be performing at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Peace Corps in November so stay tuned.
This is me walking into the kava hall (and freaking out on the inside).
My host mom covered me in baby oil (part of the tradition) so that anyone could stick pa'anga (money) on me while I was dancing.
You can see the pa'anga on my shoulder and in my hair. Whoever wants to join the dancer to show support is more than welcome to so long as they stay behind them.