Wednesday Day 2 shipwreck fireworks
Slept in with jetlag then headed to Cafe Escape for brunch and to see if we could get some wifi … At least to send an email some things never change…
More catching up and long chats with past and present volunteers and Tongan friends before dinner with Amanda and Tristan from the Australian High Commission … We house-sat for them on a couple of occasions when we were living here which was bliss… A car, hot water, TV/DVD, aircon and a stove with a temperature gauge… The little/big things that can make life in tropical developing Tonga so much more comfortable. Monique another lovely Aussie volunteer joined us.
Alfreco dinner at Little Italy restaurant. It is not as steamy hot as we recalled this time last year probably because of drought. There are also virtually no mozzies which is good news for my chikungunya afflicted husband.
Dinner was punctuated by a glorious spray of fireworks from a wreck a little off shore. (Thanks Jarrod another crazy volunteer who camps out there periodically!)
Atu and Fine exchange vows
Atu and her Dad enter the church
Fine in church waiting for Atu to arrive… A last minute adjustment to the ceremonial matting…
Thursday Day 3: Fine & Atu’s wedding day
Up early for a scrub. Luckily I was first as the water ran out so Kotoni had to do a flick wash. Off to Saane’s to get Kotoni dressed in a tao’vala so he would look the part for the wedding. I had brought my kia kia and a Tongan dress my friend Sally had bought in Surfers Paradise so all set!
Our landlady gets Kotoni fitted up for the wedding
After a few phone calls we found out where the wedding was to be held and the start time… This is usual for Tonga… Nothing final until the last minute.
Popped in to see KOtoni’s girlfriends (nuns) at the convent before Maletina (Deputy of ATI) escorted us to where the wedding mass was to be held in a small community church not far from where we lived in Pili last year.
The ‘Ahopanilolo staff and students are in a frenzy getting ready for the celebrations next week so we were the only ones available to go to the wedding and thus represented the school.
Teacher Nia painting a tapa ready for the celebrations
A young girl (we think Atu’s niece) sang Ave Maria really softly as the bride walked up the aisle. we were the only palangis (non Tongans) there.
The service included a lengthy lecture by the priest about marriage… Even though 99% was in Tongan we easily certainly got the drift.
Everyone was so impressed with Kotoni looking ever so Tongan.
The rain came tumbling down and provided a gentle percussive sound to the main event. Because it has been so dry everyone will be welcoming the rain… Although we would prefer it to fine up tomorrow when we head to Fafa Island for our three night stay… We shall just have to pray a little harder today but I fear we are up against all of Tonga praying for precious precipitation to water the crops and gardens… Plus fill their house water tanks as many have completely run out.
The wedding ceremony was followed by the usual catholic communion punctuated by the glorious choir.
It was a small affair of maybe 100 adults and children.
I do love watching the choir master lead the singing… A few of the flock were obviously not following his lead by the eyebrow raising and stern glances flicked to the blokes at the back. Not happy Jan.
Back to school to pick up a couple of teachers who were also essential to navigate us to the wedding kai pola (feast)… There were about 150 guests and we were asked to sit at the main table with Fine and Atu. This happened a lot last year… Makes you feel like the king and queen of Tonga!
Atu in her wedding kai pola gear. Her kia kia is very colourful and fancy!
Wedding feast with carved watermelons and small mountains of food. What isn’t eaten at the event is taken home by guests.
Lobster, prawns, mussels and an array of beautiful food… No expense spared for the wedding ‘high table’
Dancing is always a feature of Tongan celebrations and the rain was not a deterrent AT ALL! The tables wer piled high with food (so very normal for Tonga!)
The food before us included carved watermelons, lobsters, fish, prawns, mussels, five pigs and endless other dishes. It was a beautiful spread washed down with orange cordial.
Speeches and dances flowed throughout the afternoon and we headed for home at about 3.00pm.
A wedding guest!!! Times are a changing!!
The Laughing Samoans you tube sensation – pacific comedy duet
In the evening went to the Laughing Samoans comedy act … Queen Salote school hall was going off… We estimated 2000 people hanging out for a good belly laugh… and Tongans do love a giggle about anything and everything.
To start the event we had a prayer. God’s presence is always acknowledged and gradually most people bowed their head and closed their eyes and mouths!
A couple of funny bits that stood out:
The two comedians played various characters and often talked about biblical things. One joke focused on trying to think of miracles. Through their discussion they questioned the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000 people with loaves and fishes. They decided it wasn’t really a great miracle because the crowd were palangi (westerners) …if Jesus had been feeding 5000 big appetite Tongans than that would have been a real miracle!!!
Or the travel skit:
Hello what are you doing here?
Waiting for flight from Tonga to pick up my cousin.
I see it is late again.
Yes… It was due last week! ( a sad but true reflection on the often unreliable transport system). The evening was a fund raiser for children with life threatening illnesses.