I have been terrible at updating my blog! But I'll try and catch you up...
The last few months have been pretty busy (in Wallis standards!) - we had the 50th Anniversary of Wallis and Futuna becoming a French Territory. This meant there were lots of local dancing, feasts, public holidays and general celebrations. The best thing about it for me was that my parents came to visit! It was a struggle finding them somewhere to stay (as usual we left it pretty late)! but in the end it worked out perfectly so that they could stay in a friends self contained ensuite room down the road so they could chill out when they needed but spend lots of time with me too! We did lots of things while they were here - a couple of swims, drove around the island and went and saw a few things I hadn't seen yet - like the blood swap (a hard to get to site where a battle between Tongans and Wallisians occured many years ago - they say so much blood was shed that the swamp turned red) - today its a shady, swampy area with some amazing trees! We saw the first Tongan settlement - an area including rocky paths and patches (the king would only walk on rocks - his feet apparently werent allowed to touch the earth).
We went and watched some of the local dancing at the celebrations in the north of the island - it was funny to see my parents face when they were presented with food that they had no idea what it was!! They were pretty brave though and tried a few different things! It was great for them to see where I've been living and what things are like for me here. I think they are also relieved to see its not too basic and that for Tsunami warnings we are pretty high up! Also to see how little variety of food and clothing is here - so when I ask for something to be sent I really need it!!
It was really lovely just chilling out, speaking english, catching up and of course it was like Christmas for me as I'd put in a big order of things that I wanted them to bring me!! As Im pregnant I'm craving food from home that I cant get here!! It was great!
Sefo has been really busy over the last few months with a short term contract with Digicel, a mobile phone provider who is applying for a licence in Wallis. Its a tender process at the moment, but means that mobile will likely be here sometime next year. Im split about it - its good for Wallis to keep up to date with the world, but I also quite like not having a phone and being available 24/7!
He has also been busy preparing for the South Pacific Games which are to be held in Noumea. He will compete in the Va'a (Outrigger rowing) so has been training hard! He will do short course with V6 and V12 and also a solo marathon. The best bit is I am going to Noumea for a holiday! Being pregnant Im really looking forward to some cooler weather, hot showers and a comfy bed!!! And of course supporting my husband!!!
Friday, April 8, 2011
The school holidays in April last for 1 week, so while Sefo wasnt working, we decided to make the most of the break and go camping!! We headed to Faioa - with our 2 puppies for their first trip in a boat and also on an island - for 3 nights. We are really lucky to be able to go to one specific camping spot on the island though - we stayed at the spot which is owned by Sefos aunt and they have really decked it out well. The have rigged up some gutters and side-lying freezers to catch the rain water to that there is fresh water to wash with so every night we could have a proper wash. They have tables and chairs, mats to sit/lie on, a good sturdy shelter and a separate bbq area. It is really quite luxurious (especially when compared to other families areas further along the beach!) The area is also well set out, so that the pigs that live on the island can't come too close, and so long as we dont leave food out they are pretty good at leaving us alone!
The first day were arrived there were already people there - luckily only day trippers!! We chatted and relaxed and set up our tent. We had brought some chicken pieces which we marinated and cooked on the BBQ for dinner and had a delicious dinner!! There were heaps of mosquitos on the island which was unfortunate, but with sprays and coils we managed to survive!!
The dogs enjoyed sleeping right near our heads (on the outside of the tent) which meants every noise they made woke us up! But they are only little dogs so we couldnt get too mad - and what else what there to do on the island but rest anyway!! We woke up and had a lovely simple breakfast on the edge of the water looking at the beautiful view. I also saw, from a distance, my first turtle! It was swimming/feeding over the sea grass not far from shore. Lucky! Hopefully next time I can see one a bit closer!
Am, A, S and K (family) came to the island to visit us for the day and the boys went fishing. Another big group of people also came for the day - a few who spoke english - so it was nice to chat! There was fish for lunch and dinner! And the locals who were on the island made the most of the fish that the boys caught - with many of them standing in the water gnawing on raw fish!!
The 3rd day were were there we were on our own! Sefo went and did some fishing and caught our dinner while I relaxed and read! Such beautiful weather and it was easy to cool off by going for a swim! It was so peaceful and relaxing! We went for a stroll along the beach and Sefo got us some coconuts to drink!
Our last day was only a half day and Sefo dropped me back home and went fishing with the boys again. It was a bit hot and a bit lonely to stay on the island on my own! And by that time I was ready for a proper shower!!
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Life on Wallis is pretty good! Work is work is work, and although I'm still settling in I'd much rather comment on all of the other things we have been doing!
Sefo and his brother go spearfishing every Saturday and lucky for us Sefo caught a Spanish Mackeral, and for those in the know, that means Sushi!! Sefo and I bought some Nori sheets when we were in Fiji in the hope that Sefo would catch a fish which was suitable to eat for sushi and sashimi!! It was good timing because on the Sunday it was A's birthday so we were able to make a yummy feast!!
Sefo had his first go at skinning the fish and did a pretty good job! He sliced the sashimi and I made the sushi! We had to make a stop at his Aunties house as she has an avocado tree with the biggest, yummiest avocados I've ever eaten so they had to be added to the recipe! It was delicious!
The other things that we have done in the last few weeks is a trip to the little island. It was Ay's first time to the island, and his first time swimming! Quite an initiation for a Wallisian 3 year old! In the beginning he was quite scared in the water, but by the end of the afternoon he didnt want to get out! Sefos brother went and caught a few fish for lunch, and we had some leftover pork which we cooked on a fire. Along with drinking coconuts and some more fresh avocados donated from Sefos aunt (who was camping on the island) it was the perfect island lunch!
In my spare time I've been trying to grow a vegie garden from seed. So far most have sprouted and I have picked some rocket and one green bean! I have one tomato plant which is quite tall but no hint of fruit yet, and some others that a well on their way to growing into good plants! My zucchini plants are leafy and sprouting male flowers, but havent spotted any females ones yet. My carrots look like they are growing well but I have no idea when to pull them out! So to sum up, its looking good but no actual vegies yet!!!
Sefos brother has started planting a bigger vegie garden too (he works in the agriculture field) so hopefully he is able to have some luck too - he is planting lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes...I just want to eat some nice fresh vegies please!!!
The other exciting news on the island is the A had a baby girl 3 days ago! M, a little girl, was born very quickly, weighing a healthy 3.4kg. She is very cute, and looks so tiny! Hoepfully they will come home tomorrow! Visiting the maternity ward was interesting. Its not really a ward, more of a small room with a few baby capsules in there. The nurse dressed the baby in a cardigan and wrapped in a sarong - and everyone seemed surprised that M cried all night and then they figured out she was hot! There are no fans, aircon in the room and the food is cooked and left on a trolley outside where patients get up and find their food (from what I understand) - so most inpatients have food given to them by family. S has been getting up at about 5.30am and making breakfast to take in to them! You also have to provide your own bedding - although I think that makes it a bit more hygenic too!! A's mother has been sleeping in the hospital with her which is the way things are done here - and the father of the baby stays at home.
It is very traditional here and it certianly is interesting learning the way they do things in Wallis, and also at times difficult not imposing my own view point/judging the way that they do things here - particulary around baby care! But before posting any more examples I'll wait and find out more!!
So, until next time!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
This week I started work at the Lycee as the Assistant D'Anglais! The Lycee is the school that students go to in their final years - ages 16-18. I have really been thrown in the deep end!! On my second day - the teacher (who had previously told me not to prepare anything)introduced me to the class and then said that she was going to split the class into 2 and half the students would go with me in the first block and other half would go with me in the second block!! So there I was, with nothing prepared, for 10 students for the 1st hour and then the other 10 students for the second hour!! Luckily I can think on my feet!!
The school system here is very different to Australia (well, to Victoria - which is all I can compare it to!). The students attend the school for 3 years -the 1st year is called 'Seconde' the second year is called 'Premiere' and the third years are called 'Terminale'...which is all quite confusing!! The students typically stay in the same group for their whole 3 years and have a career focus, e.g. catering, economics, electronics etc. The school is divided into 2 - with a technical school and a general school. Last week they also opened another school which focuses on Agriculture. School starts at 7am and goes until 5pm, with a break between 12-2 for lunch (and for me a nana nap!) Most teachers have a day off, and all of the students have Wednesday afternoons off.
So far I have found the students level of English to be quite poor - so I have a big job ahead of me!! They have found it difficult to ask me questions like 'how old are you, where did you live, what do you like to do' etc. But it is also very early on in the year and perhaps they just need a refresher!! I wont hold my breathe! It has been amusing to watch their faces when they find out how old I am and whether I have any children!! Here, in Wallis, the women have children very young (most in their early 20s) - so for them to see a 31year old married woman without children it really is a novelty!!
The teachers I work with all seem very nice - some nicer than others which is the way it is everywhere I suppose!! Some ask me to be in their class and take individual students out for short periods to provide intensive work, others give me half their class and dont really care what I do with them!! It will take some time for me to get used to it I think...but it's also good that I have a varied caseload and can try different things! I think it is harder for the students to get used to having a teacher who doesnt speak the same language as they do!!
I work as the English Assistant for 12hrs a week - unfortunately my timetable is rubbish! I work everyday!! I am also continuing to do the tutoring (3hrs a week so far, with some others expressing an interest for more) and I will work at the College (which is a school for children ages 11-16) 4 hrs per month. So I cant complain about being bored anymore!! I just really need my own car!!!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
5 months have passed since I last wrote anything!! Oops. Although for the majority of this time I was back in Australia finishing up my contract with my work. Although it was sad saying goodbye to many people, I am excited at the new chapter we are beginning!
Sefo was supposed to come to Australia for Christmas and New Years, although an issue with his ancient passport (in that it is hand written and not electronic!) meant that he couldn't get a visa for Australia so he got stuck in Fiji! He ended up having Christmas with a family friend, while I had Christmas in Australia with my family! I stayed long enough for a big birthday party for my mum a few days after Christmas and then headed to Fiji to meet Sefo so we could see in the New Year together.
We spent an extra week in Suva and did a lot of shopping! We also went to the movies, where for about $4AUD a ticket you can see the latest films! After Suva we stayed at the Intercontinential Hotel which is absolutely amazing! It is in Natadola which is really the prettiest beach on the main island, and it is away from anything so dont go there expecting a lot to do other than relaxing! It would be fun to go with a group of friends though, so anyone interested let us know coz we will definately be going back!! The rooms are all advanced with electronic wonders, massive beds and bathrooms and a big bath for 2 on the balcony!! We had a seafood buffet one night which meant we could eat as much as we wanted of lobster, crayfish, mussels, prawns, oysters...yum!! And the breakfasts were as good, if not better, than the Sofitel!!
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Fiji (after a quicky 2 night stop in Nadi for massages!)...and flew back into Wallis.
We have spent some time renovating the little house (tiles, curtains, flywire) and it is now looking really great - still no ceiling but future renovation plans for extending and raising the roof have put that off. But we have hot water!!! Well, I have hot water - Sefo pretends that he doesnt need it, although I have noticed quite a few occassions where he is keen to jump in the shower when I have it on!
Another addition which has livened up the place (and hurried the need for the renovations!) is the arrival of Sefos brother S, his partner A and their (almost) 3 year old son Ay who is a real little character! They want him to learn English so I am only speaking English with him and have already introduced him to the Wiggles! He is lots of fun, and with a new addition due to arrive in March for them its only going to get louder here!!
I have solved my problem of potential boredom here and have a job teaching English at the secondary school which starts in March - although I might get some tutoring work and some work at another school in Feb. Im really looking forward to the challenge, although also quite nervous as the prospect of running a class with a group of teenagers who I wont understand! But I think it will make me learn the languages much faster! I already feel like my French is improving being back, and everyone at home is really helping me grasp more of the local language too.
Nofola!! Til next time...
Friday, August 27, 2010
I'm a bit out of order with my posts, but I just wanted to say that our friends E&R came to Wallis to visit for the week before our wedding. Luckily the power and water stayed on so their stay wasn't too tough!
We took them out fishing/snorkeling one day, and another day, Sefos uncle took us in his boat to an island in the north. The little island was small, and others had the same idea so it was a bit crowded, so we went back to the mainland, but along the way we stopped at the Hole of Hell, which is a really deep blue hole surrounded by a shelf of coral - its the most beautiful snorkeling I have done here! R was very impressed, E did a great job having a look but her fear of fish meant she spent most of her time watching us have fun from the safety of the boat! It was amazing though - with photos to prove it!!
We were lucky to have the Wallis national day while they were here, which was celebrated with lots of traditional dancing.
We went out for dinner one night, and spent lots of time relaxing - afternoon naps every day! They said they enjoyed themselves which was the main thing!!
After the wedding, Sefos friend from Melbourne came and stayed for a few days. She is originally from Futuna so understands the local language. It was great having her here to translate! We went to Fioa - the beautiful island in the south for a day - the weather in the morning wasn't great, but then in the afternoon it improved a lot! On the way home we did some snorkeling and fishing and I had my first close encounter in the water with a shark! I was terrified and had a small panic attack! Sefo was great and protected us! Although the shark didn't even show any interest in us at all and was there and gone in seconds! I'm hoping next time I am braver and can stop and look at it in all its beauty (as I'm sure there will be a next time!).
On the Sunday, after saying goodbye to Sefos friend and his parents (who went to Noumea for a week) we went on an organised Island trip. This is the biggest tourism thing that Wallis does, and us (with some of Sefos relatives) and a lot of French people, took some traditional boats out to an island in the north. They provided breakfast and an amazing lunch - Umu (underground cooking) pork, chicken and fish, along with Bami, coleslaw and lots of other yummy things! They took a little boat ride for those who were interested to a small island next door which we could explore (and it was really beautiful!) and then after some beers, food and a nap we can back to the mainland. A really great day!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We got married! In a beautiful ceremony in a little chapel in the grounds of the Sofitel, Fiji. The service was simple and I am so happy that I didn't cry in it! I was so worried i would - but i think being made to wait about 30 minutes (because guests were late) made me annoyed and forced me to think about something else! - so thanks for being late!) But despite that, it was lovely (what I can remember of it!)Followed by drinks and canapes on the lawn outside the chapel and then the most romantic dinner on the beach! I love that our guests (and us!) all took off their socks and shoes and sat an the long table chatting, drinking and eating - until it was time to dance! And then we danced barefoot and drank the night away! It really was perfect and everything I hoped for! Sefo and I had the most amazing time!
The hotel upgraded us into the presidential suite - the best room in the house! I was lucky that they checked us in early so I could get ready with my beautiful sister (bridesmaid) and my niece (flowergirl) and with my mum! It was so relaxing getting ready, sipping Moet! The room was AMAZING! With a spa inside, and a big bath outside on the balcony, a massive lounge which was separate to the massive bedroom! 2 toilets! Our beautiful friends H&J who couldn't make it to Fiji had arranged to leave a bottle of Moet for us to find when we came back to the room.
We had a great week at the Sofitel with our friends and family who could make it, and then Sefo and I went to Pacific Harbour for a little honeymoon - it took a bit of getting used to going from the Presidential Suite to a normal hotel room! But the hotel we stayed at -The Pearl, was nice. There wasn't a lot to do there, and the weather was pretty windy (compared to Nadi), but we went to Suva and checked that out, and did some relaxing! It was great!
Now back in Wallis, I continue to try and keep busy - tutoring 2 kids a couple of days a week and enjoy spending time with my husband! I'm certainly not looking forward to going back to Melbourne next month, but it has to be done, and then that's the last time Sefo and I will be apart - I hope!!