Tonga 14 – Haven’t left yet!

June 18, 2019

In a bit of foreshadowing – the photo of Joe and Marin is to show you that she is fully recovered and doesn’t hold a grudge.

We had intended to leave this afternoon after getting fuel at the dock (quite a process – two fuel trucks were ordered for the ARC boats and the ARC staff had to organize how much each boat got, when they came to the dock, etc.) but decided to leave early tomorrow morning instead. 

Both Joe and I have been feeling low on energy and I have a bit of an upset stomach so we decided one more night’s sleep would be a good idea.

I spent the day running errands – picking up things I had printed – Cobin’s social studies tests and receipts to prove I replaced all the things that got stolen. I also spent a fair amount of time at the Mango cafe, using their decent internet connection until my battery ran out. The photo is how people that are desperate for downloads look when they’re in port. I had just finished downloading piles of books on Marin’s Kindle when it decided to die. I contacted Amazon today and learned it was two days after the warranty period. Nope – no exceptions for a family at sea. But they did offer a 15% discount on a new one.

During my shopping at the market, I saw a lady with a beautiful skirt. I was buying a melon from her so decided it was Ok to compliment her and ask if I could have her photo. She seemed flattered. I asked if she made the skirt herself and she told me, “Yes – we wear this kind of skirt when someone in the family has died.” Her father had passed away several weeks ago at the age of 88. When we first arrived, I saw a number of people dressed in black and the Yacht Shop lady told us that they dress in mourning for up to a year after someone in their immediate family has passed away.

The Yacht Shop lady (she and her husband are from S. Africa and, small sailing world that it is, were crew on one of the ARC boats (Mango) a while back. A couple of years ago, they decided to set up shop here and opened a boatyard and chandlery.

She told us that she had acquired a horse here on the island. She said that for some reason, the locals don’t like palangi (foreigners) to own horses and that, no matter what she did, they wouldn’t sell her one. She had offered to buy a foal for three times what it was worth but with no luck. A local girl that works in the shop was there and she agreed that they don’t like palangi to own horses but didn’t know why.

This is where the details get a bit fuzzy but the outcome is what matters. A man that worked in the boatyard with the Yacht Shop lady gave her a bull because he said it would come in handy in her quest for a horse. At a funeral of a local man, there were two horses that were going to be killed. I think one of them was killed and eaten but somehow someone was able to trade the other horse to the Yacht lady (or her emissary) for the bull. So now she has a horse. It doesn’t sound like there is any problem for her with the locals now. Perhaps it’s not the owning of the horse that they object to – just the acquisition of it? Or maybe it’s because they know that palangi won’t eat them and they don’t want horses to quit being a food source? I have no answers.

I stopped in to chat with the Canadian lady at the meat shop and asked her who owned the fancy Mercedes that I have seen cruising through town. I originally thought it must be a member of the royal family but I saw him and he was obviously non-Tongan. She told me he is an architect they brought in to design a retaining wall. They are building a mini mall by the water. The main town is about two stories above the level of the water, on a cliff. About a year ago, they had built a three-story cement wall but then it started to rain. The rain caused the road to erode and the cement wall to crumble. So they had to find someone with retaining wall experience to come in and redesign everything so the project can move forward. He has done his job and is now going back to wherever he came from and selling his Mercedes for 8,000 TOPs (Tongan currency) which is about $4,000. Char said she would buy it in a heartbeat but neither she nor anyone else on the island has that kind is disposable cash.

Char is excited about the mini mall because she can move out of her current spot (basically a shack on the side of the road) and into something more modern.

As you can see, I snagged another photo, this time of a man at the Customs dock. I told him I admired his outfit and wondered if I could have a picture. He put down his clipboard and gave me a big smile. The button-down shirt is a unique touch (normally it’s just a plain top) although the other day I did see a gentleman wearing a sports coat and tie on top with the skirt and woven accessory on the bottom. 

Men don’t dress like this all the time – I think it’s the equivalent of a suit for most westerners. I saw plenty of kids walking around in shorts and baggy sweats when it’s not time for school or church.

So, farewell to the land of pigs and woven wear and hello to whatever marvels Fiji has in store.

I finished too soon. Everyone was in bed except Marin who kept popping up for various things. On one of her trips, she stopped in the bathroom and noticed that something looked wrong with one of her ears. 

Marin got her ears pierced in Papeete (cue the groans) and had done a very good job (with Caroline’s help) with daily maintenance on her ears. After about six weeks, she traded out the “trainer” earrings for some dainty little earrings that looked like a pair of cherries but with tiny pearls at the ends. She has been wearing them for weeks and I figured the pierced ear danger had passed.

Well, I was wrong. Somehow the earring post had bent and I’m guessing it was constricting the ear lobe in such a way that the front part of the hole opened wider and started to absorb the cherries. 

Joe came up with tweezers and cuticle clippers and poor Marin screamed as he essentially dug, twisted and pulled her earring out of her earlobe. He wisely called a break at one time which allowed me to return from the edge of fainting and Marin to regain her composure. We told her that the earring had to come out and the brave little girl said, “I know. I just need to calm down.” 

Cobin heard the ruckus and came up and jumped right in to help, sterilizing things with the lighter and handing over paper towels. In the midst of it all, Marin asked for a Kleenex for her streaming nose, “Because I don’t want to get the cushions dirty.” I did just wash them all and pleaded with the kids to try not to spill things on them. It’s nice that they listen, even in times of great pain!

Joe said, “Are you ready now?” as he started in again. Marin said, “I will never be ready!” Mercifully, the second session was much faster and with one deft twist and pull, Joe was able to get the mangled earring out of the mangled ear. In studying it, Cobin said that he could find pieces of Marin’s skin on it which was not a surprise to either Joe or myself as we had seen the earring being overgrown by her flesh. Both kids are excited to put it under the microscope tomorrow. Tully slept through it all.

When asked what she wanted to tell her fans, Cobin helped Marin with, “Earrings are stabby -stabby.” So, there you go. Hope your day is less painful! And for all you backseat parents out there – yes, we put antibiotic ointment on it and yes, we will clean and treat daily to avoid infection. And, yes, we took the other one out too.

Leave a Reply