PHOTO: Home for the holidays!
Hello everyone, it has been awhile since my last blog post. I was busy catching up with all of my close friends and family in the US. It was great to get away from Tonga. I literally had not left Tonga for almost fifteen months and I was having some serious island fever. Here are some highlights from my month long vacation. After being away from home for so long, I can conclude one thing: AMERICA IS TRULY AWESOME! I appreciate everything little thing so much more now than I ever did before. Anyway here are my top five highlights.
PHOTOS: Eating out with friends and family in various eateries.
I definetly took advantage of all the delicious food available in America. My first meal as soon as I stepped out of the airport was a buffet at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas. One word could only describe how I felt...AWESOME. I had made a list of all the food I had to eat before heading back to Tonga which included: Mexican, Hummus, Mongolian Grill, Ruby Tuesday Burgers etc. This didn't even include all the home cooked meals. I would say I checked off 80% of the list. It was absolutely amazing!
2) SNOW DAY
PHOTO: The famous Igloo of Cedar Rapids
Snow, snow, snow. I love snow! Another reason why I love living in the Midwest. I have to admit, shoveling snow does not bother me. I truly enjoy it. In addition, I got to spend some good quality time with cousin Kendee with constructing a huge igloo infront of my house. However, I didn't get a chance to hit the slopes in Galena, better luck next year.
3) CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS
PHOTO: Family photo with all of the dogs.
Must I say more? I was able to celebrate with my family two of my most favorite holidays of the year. There was so much contrast between celebrating the holidays in Tonga than in the US. For example, I didn't have to spend my New Years Eve celebrating in a church past midnight. My family prepared delicious meals for both holidays. Furthermore, I got to spend my first Christmas with Ashley's family in Harlan, Iowa. I was SO happy to spend it with everyone I care and love. Furthermore, I love how almost all my Christmas presents were for Tonga. For example: an air mattress, batteries, portable speakers etc. My family also had our traditional gingerbread house competition which Ash and I came in first place....woot woot.
4) FRIENDS, FAMILY, AND LINK
PHOTO: Link and me!
My month long visit had given me the opportunity to spend some quality time with all the important people in my life. I never thought I would miss everyone so much. My time in Tonga has made me realize how much I miss everyone. Furthermore, my best buddy Link remembered me! My dog that is. I was afraid he would've forgotten me for being away for so long. In addition, I got to see most of my friends. I didn't get to see everyone as I would've like, but I truly tried to see as many.
5) SHE SAID YES!
PHOTO: Ashley and me at New Years
Ashley and I got engaged! I popped the big question when I was home and she said YES! We are both pretty ecstatic and are planning for the big day after my Peace Corps service. I'm sure Peace Corps will raise a red flag about this, but you know what I don't care. We love each other and it is only a matter of when and where we will actually get hitched. Currently, Ash is planning all the details with the help of our parentals. We are looking at March 2012. It's still awhile, so we should have plenty of time to plan everything out. As for now, I am just concentrating on finishing my time here in Tonga.
In the end, America is truly the land of the free. Places are open on Sundays and you can pretty much do whatever you want to do as long as your not breaking a law. No intense cultural stuff that Tonga is always so damn uptight about. Am I excited to back to Tonga? eh... Let's hope this year goes by fast. New Years Resolution: Do more things to make ME happy. Less on the cultural activities and avoid as many Peace Corps bureaucratic crap.
Peace and Love from Tonga.