I have officially moved in to my site! My village looks like a set from one of the Survivor series, but it is absolutely so much more beautiful. There are two villages on the island of Nuapapu—Nuapapu and Matamaka. The island is shaped like an “L” and Matamaka is on the tip of one of the corner. There are about 125 people who reside in this small fishing village. My school sits on a hill that overlooks the small wharf and beach. The village of Matamaka reminds me of a medieval fortress city due to the fact that the entire city is protected on three sides by seaside cliffs with only the wharf area the only way in and out of the city. The “road” or I would call the “path” to the other village is a very narrow cliff that is impossible for any motor vehicles to pass through (oh wait…there are NO motor vehicles on the islands let alone any roads). I realize that I have not taken any pictures of Matamaka yet! I will try my best to upload some pictures as soon as I get back to the island and then back to Neiafu.
My house (aka my Farfum’s island bungalow) is pretty sweet. Thanks to Lepeti, I have light at night and I can see! He was kind enough to successfully hook up the solar panels with wires and batteries for me to have enough electricity to power one light bulb! My life for the next two years has dramatically taken a 3600 turn. If you ever read this, THANK YOU SO MUCH! Before arriving to Matamaka, I biked around Nuko’alofa trying to get a hold of as many candles as I could find. I was anticipating for the worst case scenario of not having any modern conveniences at the island. Therefore, my outdoor pit-toilet and falekaukau (outdoor shower) does not seem so bad. My homestay experience in Ha’apai really helped me mentally prepare for my living situation on my outer island. As a matter of fact, my house is like a Hilton compared to my house in Fangale’ounga. I have a fully functional stove/oven, a comfortable double mattress, mosquito screens in all of the windows, a full sema vai (water tank—my main water source), a huge fenced yard with banana trees, and a nice constant breeze from the sea (aka air-conditioning from the hot/humid weather). Since I did not have to buy a fridge or any electronics, I invested some money on items such as: various tapas (paintings) from the Nuko’alofa market, curtain beads, maps, and throw pillows for my “lounging” area. Once I get everything set-up and put away I will take some pictures and post it up. Overall, I am very content and lucky to have my little loft-style bungalow in Tonga.
Anyway, I will be working at GPS Matamaka with my principal and co-teacher. We have about….get ready for it…about 25 students! It is a very small school, but the school is amazingly beautiful. The school actually was completely rebuilt thanks to the people of the European Union. As a result, GPS Matamaka is one of the first donated school from the EU in the South Pacific. It literally is a model for the EU if it is viable to construct/renovate more schools in Tonga and its neighboring countries. In addition, a generous palangi (foreigner) has promised to donate solar panels and computers to the school. At the moment, we are working on installing the solar panels so that GPS Matamaka will soon have its first operational computer lab WITH INTERNET! This is a big deal, as it will literally open up the entire world to the students (most of whom have never left Vava’u). Consequently, it will be a great teaching tool for the teachers of GPS Matamaka. Furthermore, the school has a fairly decent size school yard with mango and breadfruit trees around the peripheries of the school compound. A massive tree is in the back of the school that faces the ocean and the roots have made the area around the tree a natural classroom setting. I anticipate doing a lot of story time and outdoor lessons out there! Did I mention this school even has flushable toilets? That is how nice it is (just sayin’). I am very excited for the school year to start!
With that all said, I cannot wait until the three months travel restriction is lifted and other volunteers can finally come up to Vava’u and see this magnificent place (and my awesome island). I believe my friends and family will enjoy the fun activities that Vava’u and Matamaka has to offer. The picturesque sunsets is the best free show that still dazzles me every day. It never gets old!
By the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I will be greeting the new year with my co-teacher's family in Talau and later with other PCVs in Neiafu. I hope everyone stays safe tonight wherever you are in the world! Ofa lahi atu!