Peace Corps Videos

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This and That

Here are some brief things that have happened  in Vava’u recently I thought were worth sharing

Murder in Vava’u

Tonga may be the “Friendly Isles” and guns may be illegal, but that doesn’t mean violent crimes don’t happen.  While I was in New Zealand, a 47 year old man was killed here in Vava’u.  According to the local scuttlebutt, a 22 year old man started harassing the victim at a local bar asking him to pay for beers.  A fight started and the 22 year old hit the victim in the head with a car jack.  He is now in jail.  A similar murder happened last year in Vava’u

While it is uncommon to have a murder in Vava’u, it is extremely rare to have a murder on the small outer islands.  Earlier this month, a 22 year old woman was killed on the small island of Uiha, in the Ha’apai island group.  “Uiha, which I visited last December, has about 750 residents.  The suspect, a 30 year old man is now in jail.  

There have been two other murders in the Kingdom this year.  Both of those took place on the main island of Tongatapu, where the majority of the Tongan population lives.

Sailing, Camping and Snorkeling

I joined a group of Australians, Japanese and Americans this weekend for a sailing and camping trip aboard Manuoku.    Our first stop was Swallow’s Cave where we climbed the walls and jumped into the very deep water below.

-Katie prepares to jump in Swallows Cave -

Katie Jumps in Swallows Cave

IMG_2355  IMG_2347

(Clockwise from upper left: Katie prepares to jump, Katie Jumps, Chad gets ready to jump, Saskia gets ready to jump)

After leaving Swallow’s Cave we sailed around before setting up camp at a place called Port Maurelle, which is pronounced MORE-el.   One of the Aussies had a guitar and as we were sitting around the campfire we tried to write a song.  We only got four lines done before we gave up.  

Here we are at Post Maurelle

Watching the Sea Swell

Sipping on our tasty drinks

Sharing our cross cultural links

It’s not exactly a great song, but it was great to get together with people from different cultures and realize how much you have in common. 

Cruise Ship Visitors

A large number of the tourists who come to Tonga each year arrive on cruise ships.   They generally arrive in the morning and depart in the late afternoon.   Both the main island of Tongatapu and the Vava’u islands were I live are regular cruise stops.  On Friday, a ship with 1900 passengers stopped in  Vava’u.   To say that the visitors change the town is an understatement.  Instead of Tongans, everywhere you looked you saw white people carrying cameras.  While I realize the ships help the local economy, I had to wonder how many of these people, if any, would leave here with even a small understanding that Tonga is such a wonderful place.

During the middle of the tourist invasion, II was walking down the street with my friends Chad and Katie when two of the tourists spotted the West Virginia  University shirt I was wearing and wanted to know if we were Americans.  They were surprised to learn that there were Peace Corps volunteers in Tonga and then mentioned that their daughter has served in the Peace Corps and now works for the Peace Corps in Atlanta.

They asked if they could take our picture and repeatedly thanked us for our service. 

Facts About Tonga

I found a web page with some updated information about Tonga.  If you are interested in learning some quick information about where I live, check out this web site.

Here are a few quick facts I picked from the site:

  • Location: 170 islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean
  • Population: 101,991 (189th)
  • Density: 352.9 people per square mile
  • Capital city: Nuku'alofa (population 23,438)
  • Foreign tourist visitors per year: 39,451
  • Adult literacy rate: 99.2% (m 99.1%/f 99.3%)
  • Average number of children per mother: 3.8
  • Average life expectancy (m/f): 73/69 *The number of foreign visitors shown above includes those that arrive on cruise ships.

The Missing Link

For those of you subscribe to this blog via e-mail, the link to the video of me skydiving in New Zealand was omitted from the post about my trip to New Zealand.   You can watch the video by clicking on this link:

A Final Note

I grew up in Lexington, Virginia where our local newspaper was The News Gazette.  Each week, the paper carried a column called “This and That”.  I have no idea if the column still exists, but the column would run stories like “The parents of Joe Smith of Lexington are visiting this week from North Carolina”. or “Mike Jones and his family just returned from a vacation in Virginia Beach.”

As I was writing this post, I somehow remembered that column and decided to do a “This and That” style post this week and hope it is at least a little more interesting that the column I used to read in the paper. 

One other note about the News Gazette, I used to sell that newspaper when I was around 13 or 14.  I would buy the papers for 10 cents and sell them for 15 cents.  My profit was the nickel I made on each paper.   Most people would give me a quarter for the paper, so I actually made 15 cents on most papers.   I sold about 50 papers a week. 

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