Thursday, March 12, 2009

BBQ'a and Turtles... not at the same time... YET!

Well, I thought it was about time I updated the blog. I know its been a while and people are beginning to get edgy! Today I am home sick from school… don’t panic! It’s just a bit of a cold, but it is not something I wanted to have to deal with in a hot tropical classroom with 9 ESOL kiddies! So I figured it was best to stay at home and nip it in the bud!

I wonder what my class will make of it all. I mean, they’ve had to learn a whole new way of learning in my class; differentiated maths and reading groups, and actually being taught how to write a story. Today they will be back to the whole class teaching, copying off the board, and rote learning. On the other hand, they will be able to understand all that is said by the teacher. I hope they are happy to see me tomorrow!

Hmmm… it’s been a while, so what do I need to let you know? Last week there was a BBQ outside our house on the path below, so we wondered on down and discovered the Fenua Fala sports club having their opening season dance. By the amount of food I suspect they were expecting more people than who came, but never-the-less, a good time was had by those who did.

The BBQ was made out of an old washing machine tub, with a bit of chicken wire spread over the top, and a sheet of corrugated iron underneath to protect the path. Loads of marinated chicken wings and drumsticks were on the menu, and I have to say, they looked quite exotic in the coconut frond baskets that were whipped together.

The beers and fizzy drinks were handed out, along with a drink of ‘milk’ that later turned out to be a vodka drink. Never being one to party too hard on a school night, I headed home pretty early, but Matt (always the party animal) stayed on.

After I departed there was a dance. The boys had to ask the girls to dance, and vice-versa. There was an elder who every now and then would give a speech between songs, and who eventually announced that there would be three more songs, and then it would be time for bed! I suspect that even by that time, enough drinks would have been consumed for there to be some sore heads at work the next day.


The breaking news is that there is currently a temporary classroom being built about 30m away, in front of our house. Watching the men work is a bit like watching ants zipping back and forth and all over the place… well, they looked like ants on my time lapse filming anyway. What is a slower form of an ant? Anyway, I don’t blame them for the odd bit of standing around, it is so hot outside and they’re actually putting the building up very fast. They started yesterday, and the roof should be going on today. It is interesting that they pour the concrete floor in last, after the whole building has been built. I figure that it is in case of the inevitable rain!

Matt is helping with the building and spent a lot of yesterday digging piles. He didn’t have a hammer, so most of his work in the afternoon consisted of holding up the beams straight while someone else hammered. Today someone is bringing him a hammer. I can’t see him, so I suspect they have him hammering the prefab somewhere else. The men seem to be stopping for a drink… there’s a guy up the coconut tree knocking down a load of green coconuts. They’re the best for drinking, especially if you get one that is a bit fizzy.


We have a bit of a moral dilemma at the moment, and I suspect it will last for our entire time in Tokelau. On Saturday night our friend Kelemeni came round for a visit. Among the many interesting conversations (including one of Mel Gibson’s island in Fiji and some bizarre religious cult practices there), he told us about the pet turtles they have here in Tokelau and other parts of the Pacific. Now, my class had told me they all have turtles, but I hadn’t seen any. Kele told us of the big one in a tub near the high school.

Now, the high school is only a stone’s through away from our house, so we wondered how we could possibly have missed seeing the turtle. So, on Sunday, when you are not supposed to do anything remotely related to work (including playing music etc…) we ventured out in the scorching sun to find this mysterious turtle.

After a bit of searching we found it. The poor thing was not a small turtle. It would be 40cm long, by 30cm. It is beautifully patterned and looks so gentle and peaceful. Sadly, it is kept in a black polythene tub, only about 1m in diameter and 1m high. It is in stinky, stagnant sea-water that gets changed occasionally by the students at the high school, and cannot do anything but swim to keep itself up out of the water to breathe. It has to wait for humans to feed it, which I suspect on Sundays is not at all.

We so wanted to free it, but it simply seems too obvious that it would be us! We simply had to hang our heads and walk back to our home in silence.

My class each have baby turtles. They are just small ones. About two months ago one family released their big turtle, and it has just returned back to Fale! I think this also has happened with turtles released from Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland too.

Meanwhile, Matt and I are dreading the day a turtle is seen on the beach. If you see one you are meant to tell the Taupelega (the elders). It will be killed and eaten; apparently it tastes like steak. Fortunately for the young turtles, they only eat the really big, old turtles; the ones that are probably over 80 years old. They also eat turtle eggs.

It seems to me that reading ‘The Smallest Turtle’ when I was learning to read in Year 1 (J1), has given me a major soft-spot for the plight of the turtle!


Random News In Brief

We saw a reef shark while snorkelling the other day, so turned and went back the way we had come pretty quickly!

We have both seen several mean looking eels hiding under rocks while out snorkelling. We have been warned not to get too close!

The chicken on Fale must now be kept in cages, not left free to roam among the houses. Those that are left roaming will be free for anyone who wants them! I guess this is a measure put in place by the Ministry of Health to reduce the likelihood of Avian Bird Flu.

We are awaiting the arrival of the boat so the shop can be restocked… things are looking pretty desperate right now after all the rice, flour, sugar, tinned goods and meat were given out at a recent inati to say thank you to everyone for the hard work during the recent General Fono. (It is amazing what Matt can whip-up for dinner out of an apparent nothing!)

I’m not holding my breath that the box from Mum will be on the boat, carrying my new pair of jandals after the last one was lost in the sea (sob, sob!). But are still looking forward to receiving it hopefully sometime within the next two years!

It rained lots last night. The rain is always so refreshing and worth a mention!

The leak in our roof is to be fixed soon. The ladder is currently leaning against the house. The mosquito nets will also be fixed. Yippee! We’re running seriously low on insect repellent!

The pantry and kitchen shelves have been cleaned out and ‘anti-cockroached‘ with the super Mortein: Surface Spray!

Yesterday while Matt was swimming a set of massive waves broke over the reef. Five minutes later he was body surfing! Big waves are quite the excitement, I tell you!

We were given a massive Barracuda steak to have for our dinner this morning by our generous neighbour.

The two baby geckos that each live next to our lamps (thanks Briscoes!) are still alive and have not been eaten by the big geckos that live in the windows nearby.

Coconuts continue to fall off the trees next to our house at alarming rates!

On Saturday Matt managed to douse the fire that reignited itself when the afternoon winds whipped up.

Here's some chickens running. They are pretty typical of what roams around our house. I put it in just for the cute factor!

Here's me making some coconut cream to have with the Barracuda Steak. Hmmm Penang Curry!


Moturoa said...

I'm pleased you were feeling crook today. It's great to have a catch up. You have only been there a short time but things seem to be progressing at lightning speed really.

I wonder if it will get cooler later in the year?

Allanah K

Fievels said...

Hi Allanah,
Great to have msg from you! Sadly this is the temperature all year round... ranges between 28-32 (although we did record a 26 one day, boy oh boy were we cold!).
Sometimes it feels like things progress very slowly here! I guess all I can do is model good teaching practice and hope some sticks! Today I put up posters of the multiple intelligences, made a shared writing book, and a maths knowledge book and are printing off material masters for maths! Exciting life I lead on a Friday afternoon!
The boat comes tomorrow! Yippee!

Andrew said...

Happy Birthday Fiona!
I bought your fish a birthday present of new aquatic plants and two fishy friends to eat the algie off the inside of the tank.
love Andrew

Swaggie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swaggie said...

I know it seems unfair on the Turles to eat them, but guess it's another form of "living off the land".

Well I had been thinking that "winter" might give you a bit of a break from the heat but your comment puts paid to that.

Tricesta said...

Hi Fiona and Matt,
gosh darn Tokelau looks delicious.
Sorry I totally forgot about your blog till now, you guys look to be super busy!
You've certainly acquired a few new skills too.
Theo and I have been busy playing and hanging out and such. We went to Lyn's for dinner last night, which was great. Michael was over from Melbourne and Theo really enjoyed staying up late and eating lots of chicken.

Your wishlist is conspicuously empty! I guess you don't want any Easter eggs then?!

Keep up the great writing Fi - but where is the voice of Matt??? Is he too knackered being house husband, teacher and fisherman extraordinaire!

xxx T & t xxx

Tamiano said...

Malo Palagis! What a great blog you're keeping of life in Fakaofo! Do you know that the background picture of the palms was taken across the lagoon by Jerry's island. Does Jerry still live there and have his pearl fishery?

You have been so busy, get well soon and enjoy faka Tokelau! Please give my best to Jerry, Apolone, and Falima Teao and his family a big malo alofa lahi from me!

You should get more breeze as the "winter" ends... here's hoping!

Tamiano/ Damian

Fievels said...

Adding easter eggs to the list now!

Jeremy said...


I may make the trip from NZ to the Island some day. I'm interested in making contacts. I am a NZ registered teacher for primary grades but trained in the US. I like advocating for computers in the class. Please keep up the blog, it has really been great to read.



tokelau said...

if your still in Fakaofo, can u please give our love to Malia Tavite and the family from the Vitale family from Perth. Thanks !