The Palangi Files
Malo Etau Lava mo Kilisimasi Mele!
First and foremost, I've only got 45 minutes on a 33.6K connection so I only had time to read my email and make this post. Thanks for the birthday love and I'll get back to each of you guys individually in the next week or so... Here is my blanket email...
Sorry I haven't written to you guys sooner, but as I had predicted, I wouldn't have access to the internet. All of the people in our group teamed up, chipped in and got the internet installed for the next month or so, so that we can write to our families and friends for Christmas. Because I'm sharing time with 19 other people, my time on the net is severely limited, so I decided to just put together a nice bulk email/blog posting and give you guys the heads up.
So lets see, it will be Christmas here and with the exception of the 4:00 a.m. church services where the Tongans are singing their Christmas Carols and some of the rich families that can afford Christmas lights, it doesn't really seem like it. I guess that's because its about 75 degrees each day and not too humid. I'm just used to the cold winters in the States I guess. On Christmas Eve all the trainees in group 66 are going to go Christmas caroling to all of the houses where we're staying and the town officers of each of the towns. I bitch and moan about the singing practice, but honestly, I'm sort of looking forward to it. It should be fun. All of the pizzity people in our group rock, so it will definitely be an experience.
My language classes are going pretty well, I'm in the first class or the best one, although I'm probably ranked lowest in the class in terms of conversational tongan. Sai pe (It's okay) though, I'm still pretty well versed in the slang, curses (kapikapi) and Tongan sarcasm. I was a little concerned that the Tongan's here wouldn't pick up on my humor very well and boy was I wrong! They love it for the most part. Tongan society in general is just a happy, sarcastic, three-stoogesque laugh-a-thon!
Actually, here's sort of a funny story to give you a feel about Tongan humor. Another volunteer and I were sitting out front of his "Dad's" house drinking kava and heckling the girls playing "netball", when one of the girls fell down and appeared to seriously injure herself. Not like a contusion type injury, but like a torn ACL type of injury. Well the coach and the ladies working the sidelines of the game were laughing so hard at her being hurt; they could barely muster enough compassion to yank her directly from the ground onto her feet again. When she fell directly down in pain again, they laughed even harder. I have never seen anything like it. It puts Philadelphia Eagles fans and the Michael Irving fiasco to shame. At first, I was taken aback, and I sort of wanted to go over and maybe help her up, but it's just the Tongan way. Its not meant to hurt or berate anyone, and there is no doubt in mind that its not done in good taste, its just the way the Tongan's are. Its stuff like that that brings me right back to reality and just how different cultures can be, its cool and I'm digging it. Not all humor here is like that, but humor plays an essential role in establishing many of the cultural norms. People getting injured in Tonga: Funny. Cursing in front of a guy's sister: Deadly.
My homestay family has been pretty cool, my fake mom complains just like my real mom and tells me to get married and have kids and live close to home and stuff. She's just like my real mom, but with a better tan ;-) My fake dad is a minister and works at the timber company here in 'Eua. He's pretty cool. I like him a lot, although he speaks so fast and so deeply that I have a hard time understanding even the stuff I'm supposed to know with him. 90% of my conversations with him thus far have consisted of "Io (Yes), Ikai (No), Malo (thanks) and Sai (good)." Its all good though, I mean I think he likes me.
I have 8 brothers and sisters and numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren and puaka (pigs) of whom I'm not really sure belong in the family. Its weird sometimes I'll come home from class and there will be like 12 kids in the front yard, 9 adults in the living room and a mixture of dogs, cats, fish and people in the kitchen. Some of them I recognize and forget their names. Some of them I meet for the first time and others just randomly come and go so I'm not sure if I should pretend I know them or if I should pretend I don't know them and which would be less offensive. Other times when I get home, I have to pry the door open because its like a ghost town and I'm not sure if I didn't understand that I had to be somewhere or maybe I farted too loud in the living room while we were watching poorly dubbed kung-fu movies last night and I'm being shunned or maybe everyone was afraid of me because I woke up last evening and threw stones at those G.D. barking dogs and now they don't want to see me. I'm never really sure, but all in all, it's been an experience.
Honestly, I've been too crazy busy to miss you guys, but there are moments, like when I'm sitting outside smoking a cigarette and I see two dogs walking ass to ass down the street and I have no one to share it with, that's when I gets a wee bits homesick, except for Beale, because I know he would never read this whole thing. I'm definitely for 100% sure that Tongan cooking is quite possibly the world's worse cooking. I'll elaborate on that a bit later, but for right now, I leave it as this: Somedays, I would be satisfied by just eating a packet of ketchup. Of course this is my opinion and highly dramatized, but hey baby, that's me!
In conclusion, I found out I'm going to be the computer teacher for probably the best school computer network in the country. I haven't seen the lab yet, but I hear its bad ass with lotus-style kung-fu johnsons and a couple of servers. I'm looking forward to getting into school and to start teaching. The kids in the high school are supposed to be well behaved and the lab is mokumoku (cool, as in weather). I start like January 20th, once Hades training gets completed and I'm jizzed, I mean jazzed! I'll fill you guys in on more of the details once they become declassified and I don't have to hippy-tree-hug you to death.
Well then, I love you guys. I miss you all *sometimes* and I hope your days are as merry and bright as mine have been. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years! I wanna see some awful broken resolutions this year, because if you're going to resolve to do it, resolve to do it half-assed!
Peace, Love and Fakaleiti palaku,
A.K.A Semisi, Jim Jawn, Simi and "Oh tiny one"
P.S. - I lost 10 pounds already! Life is grand baby! Yeah!
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