Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rolling out the "Red" carpet, island style

PHOTO: Our guests enjoying their meal at Matamaka GPS.

Matamaka recently welcomed some guests from the Peace Corps Safety and Security staff in Fiji and Tonga. What can I say? The community was super excited over the news that palangis (foreigners) were going all the way out to Matamaka for a visit. As a result, an emergency PTA meeting was called and preparations were underway to roll out the"red" carpet, Matamaka style.

It all started with a massive clean up of the school grounds. I have been here for awhile now and I had never seen so many Matamaka people mobilized to clean up the school. It was awesome. I took the liberty in weeding the school garden, while others mowed the lawn, washed the windows or trimmed the many trees surrounding the property. The school was exceptionally clean afterwards.
PHOTO: Dave and Helen talking with village chiefof Matamaka.

Upon the arrival of Dave and Helen, the villagers were up and about preparing food very early in the morning. The men had spent the previous evening fishing and collecting fresh lobsters. The 'umu (earth oven) was already started by the time I went to school. Futhermore, all the grass and bushes in the village were trimmed to perfection. I even found flags hung all across my front yard. Wow, what can I say? Matamakans are very proud of their village and it truly showed that day.
PHOTO: The children getting ready for their performance.

I was pleased that Dave, Helen, and the other guests had an excellent time in Matamaka. After a traditional kava drinking ceremony, food was presented to our guests. During their meal, the children performed a traditional sitting dance. The kids were all dressed up in traditional Tongan wear. it was shortly followed by the presentation of gifts from the children to the guests. I believe, Dave and Helen were overwhelmed with the generosity and hospitality of the Matamaka people. I myself, couldn't believe all the work they did to prepare for this day. I can only imagine what they will do when I leave here in November.

PHOTOS: The dance and gift presentation.

In the end, I personally thanked all the members of the PTA for all their hard work and really emphasized it wasn't really all that necessary. In response, I was told it was the "Matamaka way" and they wouldn't have done it any other way. Man, Matamakans, they are going to make it very hard for me to leave this place in November!

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