Sunday, June 1, 2008

Request of more Pics

I have had several people say I need more pictures. Although most all my friends and family have read the blog, I am going to post a few more for those who come across the site. Please remember this is a blog and the beginning of the trip starts at the bottom.

I stayed a total of 4 weeks and Rachel stayed for 7 weeks. Rachel's mom and aunt came a few days after I left and their experience was much different than mine. Needless to say, this place gives everyone a different experience.

If you would like to contact me to discuss topics on Tonga or the blog, please email at jaredbunch2@hotmail.com


Downtown Neiafu


Overlooking the bay at Neiafu


Sinamoni killed this sea snake they found at the beach.


We went to great extents to protect our food each night to keep the geckos and others from getting into, the refrigerator was the most effective. This gecko tore through the plastic bag to get at these crackers.


Rachel introduces some American Easter customs to our Tongan Family. Rachel's mom had brought some egg coloring kits and they found this to be really fascinating.


Rachel and her mom and aunt taught many of the women in our village how to bake bread. Few of the Tongans have an oven so they used the oven at the chapel. They did this on two occasions since the women were so interested.


Feasting at the beach for Sinamoni's birthday.


Caleb chasing the chickens in our front yard.


This banana stock was given to us.



Tony (the drafting teacher) and his students I volunteered with.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lat / Long Coordinates of House on Google Earth

Latitude: 18°40'39.21"S
Longitude: 173°58'44.40"W

Enter the coordinates in the search box with the following format: 18 40'39.21" S 173 58'44.40" W

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Wrap Up w/ Some Ramblings

The Wrap Up
Well, I still feel like there is a lot on my mind about this place that I can not fully convey in pictures and words, it is just something you have to experience to truly appreciate Tonga. Are we glad we went? Absolutely! Would we do it again? Absolutely! Would we do anything different? No! Are we going to go back? Probably not, I like to go to new places. Where's my next trip? I would like to go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu and the Manu jungle

So what was most difficult part of the trip? For me... nothing. This was the second best month of my life (second to the month after I got married). The best part of it - no news - no stress. I did not hear one bit of news and I did not worry about anything. There was no TV (a few DVD rentals) no radio, no newspaper, no internet surfing... just the daily review of my work emails. It is amazing how good one can feel when they eliminate things like the constant barrage of media that is shoveled onto the people living in American and focusing on personal wealth.

The most difficult thing for Rachel was taking care of Caleb; she really is a great wife and mother, as Caleb is no doubt a handful.

Tongan Life Ramblings
The future of Tonga
To me this is a very interesting subject.People have proclaimed Tonga to be the last frontier... the unchanged/unpolluted country.

The youth are better educated than their parents, but at the same time, they are becoming more interested in Western culture than their own. This is the path other Polynesian Islands have followed, Fuji, Tahiti, and to a lesser extent, Samoa. The price of Tongan land is rapidly rising as foreigners are slowing gaining more and more access to the land. Many more resorts will be built, tourism will increase, and the Tongans will become more reliant on foreign investment and, in my opinion, this will cause a deterioration in their culture.


Courting
I'm still trying to figure this one out. The young girls are very rude to men their age. On a couple occasions I noticed Winnie would disappear when and a young man her age was around. The men do not spend money on the girls and the girls tease each other if one of them is trying to look pretty. When I asked a Tongan about courtship, I never seemed to get a straight answer.

Birthing
Tongans can not afford birth control, besides, large families are encourage. The more kids in the family, the more proud the parents are. After talking to one American whose wife gave birth there, he said that the county really needs better prenatal and postnatal care. There birthing methods are extremely outdated and poor.

I do not think abortion is practiced. Adoption of relatives is very common, especially if the biological mother is young.

Crime
Virtually non-existent. First of all, there are not many laws and very few attorneys; hence a mediocre legal system. Most criminals jailed are thieves.

Punishment / Discipline
Hitting is the common form of discipline. The government allows teachers to hit students, but some of the private schools have a policy that does not allow it. I do not think "beatings" are the intended form of discipline, rather mild hits that are meant to get the attention of the recipient.

Church in Tonga
The entire island shuts down on Sundays. I think there are 4 small chapels in our small village, all within a short walk from each other. I think 90% of Tongans attend a Christian church, many are LDS. We have attended church the four Sundays I was there and my first impression was... wow the Tongans can sing. You hear singing all day long coming from a chapel somewhere and it is loud. One week a rugby team came in and sang several songs to our congregation, a cappella of course, and I was impressed. Afterwards, the ladies served up some cake and ice cream. The ice cream was passion fruit, one of the best I have ever tasted. In the US, refreshments like cake and ice cream, are usually offered as one serving and the size is moderate. The portions here are gigantic and you get has many helpings as you get take, then you take more home with you; it was great.

Recreation
Their recreation is the feast they have every few weeks or so. Other than that, maybe watching a DVD.

Employment
Unemployment is high. To be out of work for a Tongan is not a concern, as they will sustain themselves from the crops they grow. The better educated Tongans seek to leave the county. Since it has become difficult for foreigners to get an American visa or green card, this leaves counties like New Zealand and Australia the place to migrate to. This unfortunately drains the country of its educated people. On the other hand, those who leave send money back to their relatives. While volunteering, I was offered a job several times... at $3/ hour or whatever it was they could offer, it was easy to decline.

All Done
I plan on making this my last post until Rachel gets back, as she is staying another 3 weeks. Her mother arrived a couple days after I left. Please do not be afraid to leave a comment and let me know if you have found this interesting and please forgive my weaknesses when it comes to writing, it is not my area of expertise.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Video: 360-deg View of Secluded Island in Paradise

video
The camera's microphone did a poor job blocking the wind noise.

More Pics

I made it home safe yesterday. I will be adding one or two more final posts to wrap up my experience with a few thoughts. I wish I could say, "it's good to be back", but I really wish I was still in Tonga with Rachel for another 3 weeks. A few more pictures is all I am up for tonight.


Fire roasted taro or something. This was a gift from one of the families in our village. Sharing food with your neighbors is part of the Tongan culture. Tongans have poor eating habits, a lot of carbs, fried food, and late night eating.


Sitting in the net between the pontoons on the trimaran.



Passing time with "Winnie" (English spelling) and Loni, the teenage girls from our befriended Tongan family. I would tutor Winnie with her math and English assignments. The schools can not afford text books which greatly reduces the students ability to effective learn.


Winnie starting the 400m track race. She had won this event and it is normal for family members to run down to the field and yell for their children. The track was all grass and there was a bit of rain this day. After she one this race, Rachel ran down and did a couple cartwheels. Everyone was surprised to see her gymnastic moves and the whole town was talking about it. The Tongan youth are very interested in things like this, especially American dance style.


Lima is the fifth daughter in our Tongan family. She is wearing her school uniform. All the girls braid their hair.


Missionaries of many Christian faiths are common in Tonga.



One of the fruit trees in our yard, this one is a papaya tree.



One of the species of centipedes we say, this one is about 6". In one of my first entries, we had thought Caleb was playing with centipedes, but they were really millipedes. We had a lot of millipedes in our house in the evening, they would just walk across the floor minding their own business. The millipedes give you bite that is similar to a fire ant bite.I found three centipedes of this specie in our house. I only told Rachel of one. Each night Rachel would go to bed thinking that bugs are crawling all over her. She would use mosquito repellent at night and I wouldn't... she slept with a sheet over her while I did not... so... if a bug was going to get one of us... it would be me. I slept great every night. We used a mosquito net overCaleb.


Common jellyfish, this is a small one for this specie. On the trimaran, we saw a school of jellyfish under the boat... there must have been thousands. I never saw this specie in the water while snorkeling, but I often saw a smaller specie.


Caleb playing with the starfish. There are thousands of this specie of starfish on the reef below our house.




The army of ants the we battled everyday. The won this skirmish and walked away with the cracker.


Common crab at our beach, about 5" long. One night a crab was literally knocking at our door.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Secluded Island Visit


Rachel and I chartered a sail boat for the day yesterday. We started by sailing for about 90 minutes to some secluded islands. The sail boat was a trimaran, kind of like a catamaran, but with three pontoons or hulls instead of 2. The trimaran trades speed for stability, it does not have much of a keel (tilt). There were 3 other tourists on the boat with us, a couple from New Zealand and a guy from Wisconsin. The boat had 2 crew members, Larry, the tour guide, and Noah, a Tongan.

Before getting off onto the secluded island, Larry warned us about cone shells. They are a common shell with some kind of slug like animal the has a poisonous dart that can paralyze or kill. Although stings are uncommon, there is the possibility, so we kept our eyes open. The soft white sandy beach separating the jungle bush from the clear warm blue ocean was spectacular. With other secluded islands in the distance, Rachel proclaimed that spot to be the prettiest place she has ever been to. It did rival the views I had seen from atop Half Dome in Yosemite.

We only saw one cone shell.

We continued our sail onto another island that offered some good snorkeling. After a couple more hours, we headed back in to end our day in paradise. I'll upload a video of the island when I get back to the states. The internet connection here is just too slow. A photo will have to do for now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Few Pics


At the cemetery two doors down. They cover the graves with a pile of sand or place a concrete slab over it to prevent the pigs from digging up the dead.





At the rocky beach behind our house



Caleb loves the wildlife, this is one of our resident geckos, Mario. He does not show his face as much as his bigger friend, Luigi.





Evening view out our patio



The school bus that is being celebrated





The baby pig our Tongan family brought to chow on




Our Tongan "Mom" dancing with the kava tree. The kava plant is the most important plant to the Tongans. They create an aphrodisiac drink from the leaves.




The pretty girls dance and the locals give her money that is donated to the sponsor of the feast, in this case it was the government.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Volunteer Status

School in Tonga
After middle school, the students go on to attend a private college or high school. The private schools are usually run by religious organizations. The students are required to wear uniforms. The males: a white shirt with a skirt. The females: a white blouse with a dress. The male skirt and female dress are the same color, each school having a color, green, blue, light blue, apricot, maroon, etc.

Volunteer Work
As mentioned in a previous post, I have been volunteering with one of the schools here, Saineha High School. I am the only foreigner on campus, so I do stand out – just a little. I have been working with the drafting teacher, Tony, and his students. The principal wanted me to train them to use the software program called AutoCAD, but my computer died on me after a few days so I lost the necessary tools. I work with the students on the whiteboard giving them drafting exercises instead. A week after the computer died, Tony and I were able to work out an agreement with a real estate office that had a boot-legged copy of the program. The owner, Nasha, is a Yugoslavian. After school we meet at Nasha’s two-man office and I train Tony on the program. He has zero computer experience, so I feel like I have a lot of work to do.

The students and Tony have been very grateful. When I get back to the states, I would like to see if I can get at least once copy of the program donated to the school so they can continue to train on it.

Track Meet
Starting tomorrow all of the high schools on the island will be competing in a track and field competition. Training is only for one month and there is only one competition each year, although, I think a few of the winners can qualify for another competition at the capital city, Nuka’alofa. The competition lasts for 3 days, Wed, Thr, Fri., and all the students are let out of class to attend. It’s a big deal around here.

Winnie, our Tongan neighbor, is the girl’s team captain at Saineha High School. Last night I helped her write a 5 minute speech she is delivering today at their pep rally. I gave her a couple electrolyte packets I had bought at the pharmacy so she could put it in her water she drinks between races… she had never heard of Gatorade. We plan on watching the competition just on Wednesday.

Pics
I keep forgetting my camera; I will post some new photos soon.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Tonga and Food

Tongans love food and they love to share it. Unfortunately, they eat a lot of food that is repulsive to most Americans and the preparation, serving, and storage poses serious health risks. I have seen worse conditions in Southeast Asia so this is nothing new to me, but it is quite surprising to Rachel.

After a couple days here, we were walking by a Tongan family eating on a mat on their porch and they invited us to share. Rachel, not wanting to be rude, accepted. We sat down on a mat opposite them and the wife sliced up some type of tubular root vegetable and passed it over. Tongans eat with their hands that they do not wash. Soon the pigs got interested and started to approach the patio, placing their snouts as close as possible to us. We could only stomach a few bites so we quickly said thank you and went on our way.

Food from the market is mostly shipped in from overseas and it is often the food that does not pass QC inspection or is expired and… it is expensive. Most Tongans own a plot of land that they farm and live off of so they buy very little from the market. One farm I looked at today was about 4 acres and had about 30 different vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Meat comes from the chickens, pigs, and fish and sometimes beef, lamb, goat, dog, and horse. The Tongans love to fry their food, especially their meat. We have been offered “sausage” several times, which is just a fried hot dog. They also love ice cream.

We have had a couple more dinners with our “Tongan Family” neighbors who seem to be somewhat cleaner. They have tried to make us spaghetti (roman noodles with hot dogs) and donuts (fried banana/flour paste). We have invited the family over to our house for dinner tomorrow (parents and the 4 kids at home). We’ll serve them up an American style meal, I hope they enjoy. Rachel and I have prepare most of our meals: oatmeal, rice, eggs, chicken, BP&J, and spaghetti.

Tonga feasts/celebrations are common. Today we are going to a feast to celebrate a new bus… yes, it has 24 seats. There will be some dancing and other activities common among islanders. The Governor is attending so everyone will be in their best dress. Next week they may celebrate a death, wedding, new building, anything you can think of they will celebrate it.

I do have to say, I thought I had experienced the best hamburger in my life in a guest house along the Mekong River in Cambodia, but I think it was out done by a little café here, run by an American with a Tongan cook. The meat was just so juicy and delicious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quick Update

Sorry I'm not writing much. We have gotten to know a Tongan family a couple doors down from us and they have been a big help. They have 3 daughters (18, 17, 14) and 1 son (12) at home. Yesterday we went diving and we asked the 17 year old to babysit (by the way, Tongan labor wage is about $0.80/hr). Caleb has gotten comfortable around the girls and they love him.

As a side note: Race / color is not much of an issue here, other than it indicates wealth status. Locals think all whites on the island are rich and from their perspective, this may be true. A lot of the girls want to marry white men, just for the wealth. Arranged marriages are common and the father tries to marry the girl out to a man that has land. By law, land is passed from father to eldest son for the Tongan families, foreigners have to lease the land. A "white" baby around here is treated like gold- literally.

The dive was great, we saw thousands of fish and the coral was pretty good (not as good as say... Cozumel). 7 years ago a hurricane wiped out a lot of the shallow corral above 30 feet and a lot of the fish population went with it. We saw lion fish, sea snakes, groupers, tuna, etc.

When we got back to the house, Caleb and the babysitter were gone and we were locked out (the only key given to the babysitter... the one door to the house remains permanently locked). I walked to the babysitters house and nobody was there except the old grandma that could not speak one word of English. I found another neighbor to translate and Rachel started to think the worst... he's in the hospital... The grandmother knew nothing and as I was searching for the phone number to the father, the babysitter and her mother pulled up in a taxi. They had taken him into town and showered him with gifts and ice cream. Rachel told the girl she should not have taken him and at the very least she should have left a note. Well that's Tonga for you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Computer is Down

Sadly to say, my hard drive on my laptop is a gonner... very disappointing. I had written a lot of stories over the last few days I was going to post and it's gone. I am now forced to use the internet cafe at 0.08$ per minute.

Anyways, I found volunteer work at the LDS middle / high school. I have been working with the drafting teacher and his students. So far it has worked out well.

We go snorkeling often just out our backyard. I saw a reef shark a couple days ago and swam above it for a couple minutes, they are harmless unless in large groups... so I hear.

We're doing good!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Couple Pics


Locals getting their pig ready for a spit roasted fire.



Just off the plane walking into the Tongan airport at Tongatapu.


First Couple Days

Day 1 and 2 (Wed & Thur)
Traveling and buying some essentials (see previous post)

Day 3 (Friday)
I planned on writing everyday, but I am behind and I have to rely on my memory now. We go to bed and get up with the sun from 9:00p to 6:00a. Friday the three of us got ready, started the day off by walking into town to buy more food and orient ourselves better. As we were about into town, Bruce, our neighbor, picked us up and dropped us off to pick up some sun hats. With the exception of some craft items (which we have yet to purchase) prices are pretty well fixed here and you don’t haggle over prices like you would in other countries.

After a couple hours exploring the main street and a couple short side streets, Caleb was too fussy to haul around anymore and we headed for home. I wanted to walk out to the LDS school to discuss volunteer work, but that was just going to have to wait until Monday.

About half way home and away from all the taxis, Caleb fell asleep in my arms and I began to get concerned over his body temperature. Near home, a local Tongan picked us up and we cooled off in a cold shower when we got in. That will be the last walk into town with Caleb.

After unpacking our clothes and cleaning up, I took Caleb out exploring around the house. We are two houses away from a cemetery so we started there first. It is a small cemetery and some of the graves have big piles of sand over them and they are decorated with flowers, lights, and banners, while others have a concrete slab over them. I came to find out on a later day from a lady visiting her deceased husband that all the buried are relatives and they use the sand, short block walls, and concrete slabs to keep the pigs from digging up the deceased.

By the cemetery there is a short path that leads down to the ocean. Half way down it starts to get steep and a Tongan emerges out of a hole in the side of the trail all wet. I see that it is a cave and as I take a closer look into the dark pit, I a pool of water and ground water dripping from the ceiling. The Tongan said it is a fresh water pool and is very cold. We bypass the cave and make it to the ocean. It is a small beach next to 50-ft cliffs, the water is very calm with virtually no surf. We spot lots of sea creatures and are able to finally enjoy an air temperature that does not cause me to perspire from head to toe.

On the short walk back, I talked to Bruce a little more and then ask him to check out what Rachel and I thought was a propane leak. Bruce used to live in our house before we moved into it. We checked the propane tank under the kitchen sink and it was almost empty with a little condensation around it. Certain a valve was not tight, I called the property manager and they came out and replaced the tank, but not my headache.

Day 4 (Saturday)
Expats and tourists live in the four nicest homes in the village, the homes are next to each other overlooking the ocean. I went over and introduced myself to our other neighbors, Sarah and Nigel. Sarah is from San Diego and runs a T-shirt shop on main street (which has no name). Nigel is from England and came here several years ago to write a book that has yet to be published. The couple was headed into town and Rachel hitched a ride with them, Rachel wanted to look for a baby stroller at the weekly flea market. Just below our house there is a section of road that gets steep and rocky and their vehicle got a flat tire. Nigel pulled over and a few minutes later a Tongan offered to drive them all into town. The vehicles are all small and poorly kept.

Rachel does not find a stroller so she picks up some more food and catches a taxi back. We have lunch and assess our money… all cash we started out with has been spent, mostly on the two month house rent and the round-trip inter-island airfare.

I went into town in the afternoon and found that all the shops were mostly closed and neither of the two ATM’s were recognizing my Wells Fargo card. Tongans work their gardens and clean their houses on Saturdays.

I check my email and head toward the harbor in search of a sailing mentor. The first dock I walked down I found Captain Ron filing his water tank. He invited me on deck and offered me an egg sandwich. Captain Ron sailed away from Los Angeles in 1969 at the age of 27. He took his wife and two daughters, 6 and 8 years old. After a year he got a divorce and he went on sailing and picking up odd jobs around the pacific. He has a girlfriend from Fuji half his age that sails with him now. After an hour of talking about sailing, I asked him if I could get some sailing lessons from him… he offered $115 a day, I declined… I didn’t care for him anyways.

I walked back home, took a cold shower, grabbed the family, and headed to the beach. We walked to a small secluded beach on the other side of the peninsula we are on and enjoyed a cool swim. After dinner, we went to the beach below our house and did some snorkeling. The reef is about 120-ft and extends up to the shoreline. During high tide, the reef has a couple feet of water over it; during low tide, it is completely exposed. The reef is made up of mostly rock and some coral. To begin my snorkel, I walked across the reef to the edge in about 1 foot of water, put my mask on, and lowered myself off the reef. At the edge of the reef it drops about 20-ft to the sandy floor. I could see fish everywhere on the reef, most are small and only a few are colorful. I also spotted ray below me.

More to come...

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Pack
The pack was all about what was essential. The main flight allowed two 45 lb bags each, plus a couple carry-ons. The inter island light allowed up to 20 kg (44 lbs) each. One item of strong debate was about the pack-n-play, Caleb’s portable bed coming in at a whopping 22lbs. I not convinced that it was essential, but I lost that debate. We both agreed that the snorkeling gear was coming, also coming in around 22 lbs. The clothes were reduced to a few changes each and the bathroom essentials rationed out into containers.

Next item we occupied ourselves with was diapers? I was not sure if they carried disposable diapers so I informed Rachel that she need to plan on using cloth. This did not go over very well, since she has heard horror stories about cloth diapers. Relief came when I got an email from my contact that indicated that they do sell disposables.

The Flight
Long… long… long. Caleb actually did very well. We got the best seats in the cabin on the plane from LAX to Tonga, right in front of the movie screen. The seats had extra leg room and there was a basinet under the screen for Caleb to sleep in.

Main Island Arrival
We had about 4 hours before we caught our outer island plane. In LAX we met Anthony who was traveling to Nuku’alofa. He runs a program for American’s troubled youth where they get sent to foreign countries to be “reformed”. He was escorting a young man from Oklahoma.

Andrew’s offered us a ride into town where he showed us around. He took us to the bank the offered the best exchange rate, to the cell phone store where he convinced me to buy a cell phone for emergency purposes, to the ice cream shop, and then back to the airport. Andrew, if you read this, thanks!

Vava’u Finally!
The final flight on the 12 man, non-air-conditioned, twin prop plane offered spectacular views of the colorful ocean and the many tiny islands. We come in a little early and we were glad to see Sandra, the property manager, was waiting to pick us up. As she drove us into town, we received talked about the island and how to get around, but the only thing I could think of was sleep. We stopped off at a couple markets, picked up some food and headed to the house.

The House
The house is owned by an Italian. It looks like the pictures on the website, two rooms, one bath, a kitchen, living room and the Patio. The house is located atop a 50-ft cliff along the ocean which make the house all about the patio. It truly is a PARADISE VIEW. The house is surrounded by lush tropical plants and a small garden off to one side. The front has a lot of gravel for parking, and there is a short rock wall along the front and both sides. We looked around to assess what amenities we had and did not have. We do have electricity, refrigerator, phone, gas stove, microwave, running hot and cold water (the hot water was a surprise), and a couple air fans. We do not have a washer / dryer, oven, or dishwasher.

The house is located in a village called Toula, about 3 kilometers from the center of the main town Neiafu. We plan on making the trip on foot, rather than higher taxi like most tourists. The walk is 20 minutes by myself or a 35 minutes with Caleb.

The Weather
Typical tropic weather, hot and humid. So far it has been mostly sunny with an occasional overcast. I’m not sure what the temperatures, I think in the high 80’s or low 90’s. The humidity is what really makes the weather difficult to manage. Nothing is really air-conditioned; a lot of our energy is spent on figuring out how to stay cool. So far I found that a cold shower followed up by an air fan on the naked body works the best.

The Animals
From what I had read on the internet and from talking to a few people, the only biologic threat we needed to be aware of was the painful bite of a centipede. No poisonous plants or animals. Since we have only been here a 1 day, we have seen lots pigs running around everywhere, chickens, in our yard, an army of ants at our front door, crickets, geckos, a tarantula, mosquitoes, starfish, sea urchins, crabs, and “the centipedes”. When we were at the domestic air terminal in Nuku’alofa, we a whole bunch of worms on the ground. Caleb started to touch them and I wasn’t too concerned… after all, I played with worms all the time when I was younger. One of the Tongans handling the baggage warned us that they were centipedes. Upon a closer look, the legs revealed themselves and we pulled Caleb away, luckily unbitten.

The Food and Water
Since we will be here for an extended period of time, we are going to cook most of our meals. Most Tongans farm a plot of land and buy very little of what they eat. The staple food is taro, sweet potatoes, yams, and other tubular roots. Tropical fruits are coconut, banana with their many variations, pineapple, watermelon, papaya, and a dozen others I have never seen before. Meats are chicken and fish, while pigs are typically saved for ceremonial dinners (weddings, holidays, etc.). Bread and eggs round it off.

All the domestic water is rainwater collected from rooftops. The rain gutters pipe rain into a concrete water tank that is located next to each house. I don’t know if the water goes through a filter before it is dispensed out faucet, but our water tastes good, especially after it is cooled.

The bananas, pineapple, and watermelon we bought from the market were as good as the ones I’ve had in the US. So far, I am not too impressed with the food yet, but I am a harsh critic and we haven’t been to any restaurants.

The Costs
Most items cost more here than in the US and are imported in from Australia, China, and India. The cost of fuel is about $5.50 per gallon. I will have to adjust me budget for the trip to account for the extra expenses, since I was anticipating food grown locally would be cheap.

To follow... daily activities.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Introduction


Getting ready for the trip... can not sleep... very anxious...

To start out, Tonga is a small chain of islands in the South Pacific. We will be staying on the island of Vavau', which is located in the northern portion of the chain. Click here to see the house we have leased. Currently, it is summer in Tonga and the rainy season and Vavau' gets hit the most. Cyclones occur during this time of season at an average of 1 in 10 years... I hope this year will be the year, that would be awesome!

Visit Lonely Planet or Wikipedia if you would like more info on Tonga.


So the big questions: Why Tonga?

hmmm.... I was looking for a place that met the following criteria:
1. a new place that does not resemble Western civilization
2. English is known by a high percentage of the people
3. friendly people, safe, and family oriented
4. adventurous
5. inexpensive
6. some conveniences

After an hour of thinking and a little research on the internet, I settled with Tonga.


What are you going to do?
I would like to eating fresh food, scuba diving, fishing, and sailing. But, since that might get expensive or maybe even old after a week, I would plan on finding some volunteer work to do. I'm thinking something along the line of teaching some computer skills or English.


How big is the island of Vavau'?
The island is about 10mi x 7.5mi with a population of about 6,000.


How long does it take to get there? 27.5 hours
I have to admit, this will not be fun with a 18mo old. The schedule in hours is:
0:00 - depart for Las Vegas airport
2:00 - depart to LA
3:09 - arrive in LA
8:15 - depart for Somoa
UK - arrive in Somoa for 1:25 layover
21:15 - arrive in capital of Tonga, Nuku'alofa
25:30 - depart for Vavau'
26:30 - arrive in Vavau'
27:30 - arrive at house