Wednesday, January 22, 2014

[Virtual] Coffee Date

When I was in New Zealand someone asked me what I wanted more than anything.
My answer? A take-away cup of coffee.

Maybe that goes against my inner-hippie (use a reusable cup, mandy!), but that's what I wanted and what I craved.

But today, my first day back in my little fale (house) in Vava'u, I'm glad that I indulged and went for it. It'll be another 8-9 months before I partake in that sweet goodness once more.

In the meantime I've got some ground coffee that I drink on special occasions and a Disney princess mug that I put it in. Ah. The little things.
So if we were drinking coffee together today using matching Disney mugs (or a Starbucks cup!) here is what I would tell you:
- I'm still working on getting the sleeping medication I took to take the ferry boat out of my system. Even though I've slept 28 of the last 48 hours, I'm still sleepy. Is it possible to sleep too much?

- If you leave a house in the South Pacific for 30 days it's much different than leaving one in America. Even though I spent days cleaning and getting ready for my trip to New Zealand I still came home to rat and lizard poo all over everything. Bleach is my favorite. And guess what else? What wasn't covered with that gooey stuff was covered with centipede and cockroach carcasses. Guess I gotta enjoy this now because this time next year I will be back in America. 

- Naps are the best. I'll probably go and take one after I post this blog.

- That I'm nervous to go back to teaching next week. I know I shouldn't be but the last two months off (yea summer break!) have been wonderful. It's crazy to think that I will work just three (of the four) of the school terms and then head home. I hope my students like the new things that I have planned and that I find joy in teaching the same thing a second time. 

- Planning for the future is hard. Post Peace Corps plans in my life are becoming more real every day and there are just so many choices! It's hard to pick the right one. How do you know you're making the right choice? I'm glad I'll have a few months at the end of the year to hang out with family and friends, but then who knows where the wind will take this girl!

Cyclone Ian + the Ha'apai Islands

On January 11, 2014 Tonga was hit with their first Category 5 Cyclone in documented history.
At the time I was still in New Zealand receiving updates from friends on the island as well as watching online news sources for the latest information (It's interesting to note that both were saying very different things - but I'll save that story for some other time). At one point the eye of the storm (which was very narrow) was set to not only hit my island, but the village in which I am located.
As we know, weather can be unpredictable and Cyclone Ian was just that. Instead of hitting Vava'u it veered south and hit the Ha'apai Island group (the middle group of islands in Tonga) directly.
We have two volunteers serving on Ha'apai and they were luckily at a training on the main island when Cyclone Ian hit. Their houses were both destroyed and 80-90% of the islands are completely devastated. The ferry made a stop in Ha'apai to drop off supplies desperately needed by people as well as nurse volunteers from Australia and other aid organizations. I was able to hop off the boat briefly and walk around.
Here are some of the images I captured.
The sun was just rising as we arrived in Ha'apai.
A house that was destroyed. See the bed?
There was so much tin roofing just bent around the trees.

Right now the concern for the Ha'apai citizens is clean water. Since most of the water tanks were blown away or broken during the cyclone there isn't enough clean water for the thousands of people who had their homes destroyed and are currently still on the island. 

Please keep the people of Ha'apai in your thoughts today and throughout the next few months as they look to rebuild over 20 islands from the ground up.

If you'd like to learn more click here, here, or here.
If you're interested in donating or helping with relief efforts here or here.
Also, here's a video of the damage.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Day I Took a 22 Hour Boat Ride - Version 2.0

I've already done this adventure once.
But it's the only way (aside from a little puddle jumper plane) to get off my island. Our MS (Mid-Service) training finished last week so 11 of us hopped on the ferry and geared up for a 22 hour boat ride (silver lining: it was only 20.5 hours!).
Again I was prepared with my sea sickness acupressure point bracelets. Cool girl alert.
This is the line for the ferry. We were one of the first groups let on. There was a lot of people sharing a very small space.
My mood was about equivalent to this kid's most of the time.
There was a lot of waiting, talking, playing cards and sleeping (this time I slept around 18 hours!).
 Glad to be back in my Tongan home now. 
(Even if it's infested with rats who left me nice little presents in my bed...yayyyy)

Friday, January 17, 2014

MST Training & T-shirts

Peace Corps Tonga Group 77 just finished our MST Training (Mid-Service Training). 
This training was filled with tips on teaching English, teacher training and capacity building and was a great time to get together and enjoy each other's company.
I designed t-shirts for our group that were graciously brought to Tonga by one of the volunteers who went home to America for the holidays. Here are a couple pictures so you can see. 

Hope you are doing well! (I should be back to my regular blogging self next week)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Zealand [in pics]

Having a wonderful time exploring New Zealand.
There is so much fresh produce here! It's felt a little bit like I've just been eating my way through the country - kale, spinach, goat cheese, figs, apricots, plums and cherries. My stomach hasn't felt this happy in months!
Had the opportunity to spend some time with a close college friend, camp friends and now my family.
Feeling really grateful and really excited for 2014.

Thursday, January 2, 2014