Subsidize My Authority!
What are the Palangi Files?
The blogs of a guy who quit his job, sold or gave away all of his possessions, joined the Peace Corps and moved to the tiny island Kingdom of Tonga. This is his (and only) his story.

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, emotions or sleep patterns of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, the Kingdom of Tonga or anyone else for that matter but me.

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Wellington Chillin

Alright Fools and 187 Perpetrators. Its 9:42 and I'm sitting in an internet cafe in downtown Wellington, New Zealand just high on life right now. I decided to take a little 'eva pe *walk* after class today and just sort of check out the sights. Its absolutely incredible. This place rocks. Its weird, it sort of reminds me of like a Philadelphia meets what I think San Francisco would be, but the people aren't americans, they're like this guy but their nicer, better looking and they don't have red hair. Or something like that if you can follow me. ;)

Truly diggin' the experience. I trekked up to the top of Mt. Victoria and took probably some of the best pictures I've ever taken in my life. The view was ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! J.K. if you read this, you're right man, this place is simply ehemm... "beautiful". I took the pics on my film camera though because I wanted the to be awesome. They'll be super-sexy when I get them developed I know it.

So here's some of my current thoughts and feelings right now: (1) Not having money sucks. (2) I love capitalism and (3) there isn't anything else that I'm thinking of really right now. I sold some stock with the great expectations that I'll have some loot once it clears and stuff right? Nope. 3 business days to get that scrill. Sold it on Friday. Can you believe that noise? Rats. No problem though right, I just sold my car for money, I'll just check my other bank account. $3? WTF!!! Call mom and tell her [transcripts follow]:

  • "YO! WTF?"

  • "What, you're in New Zealand?"

  • "Yeah. Where's the money from my car and birthday and christmas and stuff?"

  • "Do you know how long it takes for them to cash those checks. Its so long I decided I didn't even want to send them"

  • *Sniffle, Sniffle and blazing anger to kill mother rising, rising, rising...*

  • "Great. Where's Dad."

Well I called E*Trade after that and they gave me the skinny. I'm going to be rich in like a day and half. I knew I should have sold my junk before Friday, but for some reason, I just didn't want to let go. Well, I'm paying the price now. En Garde! But its all good none the less. $40 dollars from converted pa'anga can take you places and girls love it! I'm still floating like a hobbit on the green fields of beautiful hobbiton though. That Mt. Vicoria walk was incredible. Rambling side note: Kiwi's take their hobbits seriously. No joke. I could pull off any random person on the street and I could get a 4 and 1/2 day tour that started at the director's house and ended at the cracks of Mount Doom with liner notes, the exact placement for all of the shots and a catalogued list of every prop in the movie and what local materials it was crafted from. Its unreal. I guess its like Philly about cheesesteaks, but not as freakishly polite. Everything here is "Return of the King". Oh yeah, back to capitalism too. I love it. Seeing a McDonald's and a Starbucks, despite the fact that I can not afford them, makes feel like a natural women. No, that came out wrong. Much love to the Kiwi's.

Yeah, I'd also have to give props to the people at the motel I'm staying at and just the Kiwi's in general. I got to my hotel late on Saturday Evening and as I checked into my room, a room full of 5 Kiwi girlies were like"What!? He's from America? Hell's yeah we'll show him a good time!" And that they did my precious. We went to just one of the local bars in Pororiua or some other weird name and drank there till about 4:30 or so in the morning. I ran out of loot so they bought me a bunch of drinks and kept filling me up with shots. There was so much stimulus I almost lost my mind. Televisions/Contemporary Hip-Hop/Halter-tops/Beer that wasn't Ikale. I ended up dancing most of the night away the obviously easy women and not my hosts, which in retrospect was a bit gauche (BAAM!) but oh so much easier *wink, wink.* Unfortunately, I struck out. Sai Pe though. Just checking out girls that didn't dance 1.21 meters away from me and could have potentially slept with me was just fine with me, plus I'm not sure the Kiwi girls were too kean on my gigantic nerdism. All in all though, a beautiful night. In retrospect, I truly enjoyed it.

Other side notes of note: I actually miss my little cheezy house in Tonga. I was starting to get used to the lifestyle a bit. I haven't had a good night of sleep and I miss the dogs barking outside of my house at 2 o'clock in the morning. I keep waking up, walking to the window and hope they'll show up so I can throw a rock at them. Stoopid peace and quiet.

Second, working in Tupou High School is going to be a lot of GD work. I spoke to one of the faculty members here and when I showed her my schedule she was like "Holy Shit! You're teaching ALL of these classes?" and I'm like "I don't know. I think so. The people I work for just tell me when to show up for things. I'm really not sure what my job is going to be." Then she's like: "Well you're teaching 5 classes a term. I've been teaching for 15 years and I'm teaching 2 classes a term." Me: "Awesome. I'm much smarter than you and probably better too." She did NOT appreciate that at ALL! Shit 8 mins left on the clock. Just kidding, I didn't say that, but I felt like that.

Third, I'm getting about 500 visits a day now from all over the place. Sorry if the server gets slow sometimes, but I just found out I'm sharing the space with 190 other sites. And I'm getting your emails. Nice-ups on the map Chris/Taylor. I'll keep trying to keep it real. Alright, my times up.

Kiwi Blingin'

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The rumors are true...

So the plane tickets have been purchased and its now official: I'm going to New Zealand for a training seminar in Wellington, with a stop in Auckland. Originally, I though I'd be there for like two weeks, but that's not going to be the case. I'm leaving on Saturday the 24th and returning on Thursday the 28th. 5 days is still pretty hot though. It looks like training, however, may just be a day or two during that time, giving me ample time to say rent a car and go shopping and track down and kill one of those hobbits. Actually, I probably won't kill a hobbit, I'll try to bring him back to Tonga in my carry-on all doped up. I wanna a hobbit to do my shopping, dishes and gardening. I hear there not very delicious anyways...

Maybe I'll meet that gorgeous girl from "That Girl" who somehow found my blog and we'll go on a date, eat lots of ice cream, practice the art of lotus-style kung-fu and she'll help me hobbit tracking. I sure hope so, because GOD DAMN Sti's a hottie! You heard! Awkward, uncomfortable, shy moment... *insert blushed cheeks and mad crazy passionate emotion and a desire to go down*

So back to the story at hand, I'm mad physched and looking forward to seeing some kangaroos and buying a boomerang and doing all that other weird sort of stuff that the Kiwi's do. Well I guess that's it about New Zealand, I wish I knew some more. I'm still pretty excited and I'm not sure what I'm going to do there or not.

So let's see, what else is new? Nothing really, checked out the BTZ message board for the first time in like a long time. To those of you that know him, Drake's having another baby, which rocks and totally means that his job is going well. 8). Mad props to E-bo too. Keeping it real.

Oh yeah! Two nights ago, someone broke into the school and stole our laptop and the digital projector for our school. That sucks a lot because I was depending on using the Digital Projector to teach my classes. I talked to one of the staff here at school and he called all the computer shops and asked if anyone had tried to sell a laptop. Sure enough, someone did. The computer shop told them to bring it in and see what sort of money they can offer for it. Hopefully its the laptop that was stolen and the theif is a stone-cold dumb ass. I want to get the projector back.

Alright, I'll end it now. If you guys want anything from NZ like a postcard or something, let me know and I'll try to get my hands on it. Yeah, I owe you guys some pictures too. I'll try to upload some later on this evening. Keep it real. Oh yeah, I have a cell phone now too! If you want my number, email me and I'll send it to you.

Best Wishes,

"Hobbit Snatcha" Semisi
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The Jawn Is Back

Well you munchkin warriors and people with televisions that have more than two channels with 24-hour church stuff going on, the Jim Jawn in back! I'm not like pretend back either, this time its the real deal, I'm not one of those crappy "trainees" no sir-ee. You must now address me as a Peace Corps Volunteer! The great and wonderful Semisi with the power to smight and beg American tax payers for money has graduiated *spelled phonetically, I'm not dumb*! I'm the king baby, Dig It? I and 19 other crazy palangis officially graduated from the Peace Corps Tonga training program last Thursday! Thats YOUR tax dollars at work you wild muppet heads you! But I know the pusher don't care...

It was epic! Our graduation will pass into the folklore of Tongan culture memorialized in song and dance as "the night of the great-wing-ed-monkey or the hulohula 'o kai si'i si'i pe mo inu kavaPalangi lahi aupito" Actually, it was rather uneventful for the most part. On second thought, I recant that. Just the speakers themselves were a hoot and the coconut wire was on FIRE later on that night! We had this guy who will remain nameless in order to protect his crazy ass, referred to from here on out as "crazy-ass", and somebody with the power to fire me who I will call "Guy" (Spoken In Snooty French). Well "Guy" had this great welcome speech that was partly directed to the graduating Peace Corps Trainees and partly directed to the line of other countries' ambassadors across the room. Part of the speech was (Keep in mind this is only MY opinion) directed towards the dignataries. Its was like a bigger richard contest. I could have sworn that the chinese embassy guy moved his fan a bit quicker and Kiwi dignitary's mustache curled a bit more on the edges when he dropped the "US is giving 3.5 million big ones to Tonga" line. I was thoroughly suprised though when he banged both hands on his chest and said "Where you at now China? Huh? And where you at too punk ass New Zealand!" "BAAM!" That took me back. Actually, that didn't happen at all, but that's what it was like. Well it seemed that way to me anyway. I have no idea at all why it would be in a speech to graduating volunteers anyway. Goofy "Guy". He did have some pretty encouraging words that I didn't pay attention to though. Those moved me. Following "Guy" was "crazy-ass".

Now I call him "crazy-ass" for two reasons, first he was as crazy as preacher honeymooning at "Hedonism" and two he made absolutely no sense at all, whatsoever. It was appalling how incoherent his ramblings were. He would start a sentence talking about the mark of the beast and polish it off with a pretty sweet "back in 1967..." It was hot. At first I thought it was great. I'm like "This crazy-ass is a loon" and was completely and utterly engrossed. That lasted for about 15 minutes when I realized if I didn't break eye contact with "crazy-ass" immediately, he would continue to ramble on about the three non-religions versus the bible bangers and the impending gang-fight that would occur later on when they tatooed 666 on their foreheads, right before the return of the "Big C." I was imparted with such wisdom as "Don't add another 6 to the end of your group number" and "I'm sure your familiar with XYZ author, he wrote Mark 16 Rules!". My favorite almost finished quote was "If you add the number of your group [66] to the number of years that the Peace Corps has been in Tonga [37] you'll get [uncomfortably long pause]... you see the faith is the key." I know if I don't write that down now, I'll lose that gem forever. Well he rambled on until he realized you could hear a mouse fart at the house next door and tied everything together with "Leave your faith here". Which is great for a room full of a bunch of aethiests. "We'll be sure to do that" was the rallying cry of disbelievers during beer reminiscing.

Osi "crazy-ass": Props to Pensimani. Actually Pensimani, rocked house with an incredible speech that garned mad praise and a personal invite to our chief trainers place for kaiefiafi (dinner). He spoke the entire speech in Tongan and did a terrific job, Ben's fiancee you're a lucky gal. He's not only handsome, quad-lingual and certified alcohol free, he can dance like a mutha! Just kidding, he doesn't dance either! One of our group members "Pensimani" was the first volunteers in 5 years to get an "Advanced" language rating after 2 months of training. I love that man. Me, I got "Intermediate Low" for the final, but I got "Intermediate High" about three weeks prior. Kapou oku ikai ke lea fakaTonga lahi, oku ikai ke lea fakaTonga katoa pe. [If I don't speak Tongan a lot, I will not speak Tongan at all - rough trans.] I've decided to take some tutoring on the side. My language sucks now. But to return to graduation night...

So everything comes to a great conclusion, we have a nice champagne toast that I sucked giving and drank the Ikale *First beer in the world, everyday* draughts to the bone. The party was a bit subdued and I was given the responsibility of beer arranger. Christ, after being the person in charge of splitting up a restaurant bill with broke ass peace corps volunteers, being the guy that has to collect money for beer from broke ass peace corps volunteers is the worst job in the world. Hands down. I felt like rolling around with a big giant neon sign that said "Please, pity me. Just give me $15 pa'anga. You know you cheap asses are drinking." Anyway, all said and done, it worked out for the best. We had a nice afternoon drinking and telling stories then went home. Many of us napped for a short while, took a group " 'ono'ono " picture, and straggled our monkey highknees down to the bizars. Where we drank and karaeoked [SP?] the night away and some other people that did not include me at all, hooked up. That is all that will be said I will not verify not deny any claim from here on out. It is for the coconut wire alone to digest and assume. All in all, it was a fantastic night that ended on a perfect "crescendo" [dave quote].

Wow! It just started raining like nobody's business outside! My goodness gracious! Oh Yeah! I'm in my new digs right now as I'm typing this. I'm going to take some pictures in the morning tomorrow of my new house. Its not much to look at from the outside, but it certainly provides for everything that I need. Hells fools, I even gots me a phat pipe to the internet in my bedroom! As a volunteer I'm mad crazy spoiled. Not as spoiled as some, but spoiled enough to make a few heads turn. I'm definitely digging it thus far. I have some noisome furry neighbors next door that are pretty adamant about barking at nothing at precisely 3 a.m. on the dot every evening, and I have a couple of retarded roosters to like to cock-a-doodle-do for no godamn reason at all, but I sleep like the dead so I'll be alright. Hell if Nate and Becky could live next to that trolly stop for so long, I'm sure I'll adjust to the dogs and roosters.

I'm going to start teaching February 9 and as of right now, I'm still a bit unsure of what and when, but I did find out that I might be going to New Zealand for a week or so to take a .Net seminar to certify me as a teacher for the school. I have to talk to a number of people first to find out if its definite or not. Boy I sure do hope so. I'd love to go to New Zealand, even if I can just go for a week or so. That would absolutely rock! Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Finally, some person notes to conclude. I have gotten your emails and during the next couple of days, I'll write elaborate beautiful responses that recant my love of a nation and the tragedies I've experienced, but writing has always been hard for me because I take so long to write anything of consequence. It requires too much thought. is blowing up. I'm getting an average about 350 page views each day now and its growing at a rate of about 20% each week. That's pretty cool. I'm glad you goofy wingnuts are keeping up. Love ya's all and hope things are great in your magical midget worlds. I'm going to be fixing the rest of the sight later on.

'Ofa atu,

Semisi Smith, PCV Fool, You betta reconginize!

All that I need is the air that I breathe and all that I need are the things I don't need and all that really matters is what matters to me, but who're you, You're like me (Shannon Hoon - Blind Melon - Nico - All That I Need)
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Feeling Better

12.27.2003 and feeling much better

Well today was sort of a breakthrough koe'uhi ko hoku famili made me ongo'i 'i api. Yeah, I’ll represent with some Tongan. Today was pretty cool, although last evening, which I will delve into a bit further later on in tonight's continuing drama. I decided to skip the walk and the ride with J.K. this morning and sleep in. I awoke shortly after they left this morning and was expecting a whole day of reading and playing video games on my laptop, but a great thing happened: Lose stopped by.

She spoke with my father, Akimoni, at length about Aho Fakatonga and the sort of stuff that I had to do. Akimoni promptly got off his ass, stopped sleeping and took me outside to get me started. Actually, its funny, I'm not sure if I'll remember this too well, so I'll describe Akimoni's teaching methods first.

He has no time for bullshit. That's a must. Everything is “Poto aupito Semisi!” no matter how lame ass my performance is. That's not his style at all. Nope, everything is awesome and concise.

He takes me out back immediately after talking to Lose, so quickly in fact that I don't have time to save my Final Fantasy game before I go. We go outside, and using some of the kids intermittently as an interpreter, he proceeds to show me how to husk a coconut using a big metal rod pleasantly affixed to busted ass car tire rim. It's actually pretty clever and sadly, I decided not to remember what the name of the apparatus was. However, he husks one coconut, tells me to get to work and try it. I do so and with an apathy that he somehow was not surprised to see. "Poto Aupito, Semisi…!" Great, I'm the best!

Next he grabs the machete and promptly smacks his coconut into a perfect hemisphere. The coconut halves were so straight in fact that you could take a level to the cuts and so plane that you could probably use them to measure the orbit of the stars and construct a lunar calendar. Sweet. Now its my turn, I smack my coconut a hundred times in the same place, inevitably two inches lower than my dead-eye aim directs me, and it promptly splits into the most incomprehensible coconut cut ever. I can hardly believe it split at all, but I'm physched. "Poto Aupito Semisi!" Yeah! I'm the smartest. I knew it.

So after stripping the coconut of any remaining dignity it may have had as a nice round half, I am instructed to gorge its insides with this medieval torture looking device called something that once again attached itself to one of those brain cells that remembers where I put my hat. He sits down on this little bench and in about 15 strokes has the coconut so stripped that you could swear it was just a coconut cup before he started. I sit down and in jerky motions with masturbatory overtones and get so few shavings from my crappy coconut part, that I have to dig around in the bucket for just as long as I actually scraped to find anything. "Poto Aupito, Semisi!" Once again, I'm right on target. Super smart I'm feeling it.

Akimoni quietly pretends that I had some shavings by grabbing some from the heaping pile he's laying on and tosses them into my pot. He throws some coconut husk and in a barrage of "tau’s," "niu’s" and "ka's" sits down and uses some husk to gather up the pieces and fill up probably a 20 ounce Coca Cola bottle with coconut milk. Nice. My turn. He tells me to "look over there", which I do understand, well I spend enough time trying to interpret it anyway that his deflection succeeds. He throws another handful of coconut shavings from the pile he's sitting on into my bucket. I'm so stoked I don't even notice. Yeah baby, kaka niu! Baam! I’m the Tongan Emeril. I grab my pile of husk and begin the squeezing process, which for you palangi's reading at home is very similar to cleaning out a shammy. I twist it, I turn it, I punch it and slowly but surely, it happens. My coconut shavings start to lactate, as mellifluous as the bounties of Canaan, except for one thing: I could probably fill the thimble from monopoly with my dribbles, not the 20 oz. bottle I was hoping for. "Sai pe, Poto Aupito Semisi!" Really! I think he means it! Rock on baby! I’m the Niu Masta! Aho Fakatonga here I come!

Now, I've got this sexy ass coconut milk and I'm raring to go. What next? Well cooking with it of course! And what bland Tongan fare would not be complete without something glamorously boiled? Nothing, that's what! So, from out nowhere appear a small kamala and ufi previously peeled and ready for me to cut. *Mild topic digression: I actually really like kamala, which is this awesome purple sweet potato. The more I eat it the more I like it. One of my first culinary goals as a bachelor will be to make mashed kamala, ala potato style.* So I do what I'm told, I cut them up into three pieces, douse them with coconut milk, not mine of course, but some of Moni's and then add some water from the sima vai (rain collecting and storage apparatus). What next? Maybe some chicken or some noodles, hey maybe it'll be a pot luck with a little bit of everything thrown in! Who knows, today has been so good anything could happen! I'm dreaming coconut milk dreams when suddenly, they're promptly squashed: Water, Coconut Milk, small ufi and kamala are sadly just enough for the little feast I'm preparing. I throw my cute little stew onto the raging fire and leave for station number two: handicraft!

Alas, I'm truly beat and this tale needs to be told. I'm listening to my brothers tell stories about me in the back yard and laughing and having a good time. I'm glad. I'm starting to let my guard down and stopping being so uptight about my life. All in all, today was a great day and thoroughly enjoyed. Teki told me he loves me (completely brotherly of course and I told him that I loved him and that he's my favorite brother) Played some chess with Ila, my personal Tongan lackey but brother none the less and I'm having the feast tomorrow. Not only that, but I'm finally starting to feel at home a bit here. And that’s what the goal of this has been the whole time. Dick story another time.


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