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Month 8 – Whales & What’s up


It’s another slow Sunday. In contrast to city life, on my tiny island home, I’m content and configured to island time. I’m lying on a park bench with my attention divided between the screen of my Kindle and and the serenity of an ocean view. I’m loving it.

I’ll restore the romance in that antiquated term by adding that its been 8 months and this backdrop hasn’t lost a drop of beauty since I first cast my eyes over it. I just remembered, I also haven’t had Mcdonalds in a while… Bloody Marketers.

Back on the topic of things that drop, there is also a coconut tree directly above me. I wonder. Sure, coconuts fall, but how often? I laugh. Returning home because a coconut fell on my face – not head, seems like something that would happen – particularly to me.

Before I can decide to move, I’ve got company. An elderly man takes a seat and starts speaking in Chinese (his nationality). Eventually, he points to my Kindle and motions holding it to his head like a telephone. I say ‘ no understand’ in Tongan, and out of politeness, throw in the only Chinese word I know, “Ni hao,” (hello) at the end. He laughs and walks off. I laugh. Then I wonder.

I guess, he was just.. taking a chance. He knew what we wanted, and went for it.

Considering where I am, I should know about them too. Considering I’m also now nearing the last quarter of my trip, by now, I should also know if this chance was worth taking. But here’s some truth about this whole volunteer thing (and other things) for anyone who’s interested.

The higher your hopes and expectations, the harder they can fall. And like coconuts, there is definite potential for people to get hurt in the process … well, emotionally. Although being “that guy” under a fallen coconut would be an equally felt by one’s ego.

Anyways, regarding my own contrasting experiences and expectations, I’ve been icing the slap to the face that reality gave me with this thoughts like this..

“Your action creates ripples in a pond – even if you never get to see them reach the shore” – James Clear

I’d be selling myself short, and acting overly greedy, to expect such an ongoing and complex process such as capacity building, to unfold to my short schedule. A better 2014 for my host organisation means a better 2015 and so on. Or because of the many factors out of my control, things could get worse.

However, I do like to imagine, that sometime in the future, I’ll be enjoying the fresh taste of a Big Mac made with two 100% Aussie beef patties, crisp iceberg lettuce, signature sauce, melting cheese, onions and pickles, while my host organisation is still savouring the results of my earlier efforts.

Who knows. Outside of work, at least I know I’ll be returning with some good memories.

New to add, and a definite highlight, was swimming with humpback whales in Eua; one of Tonga’s smaller islands. To use another one of “those terms” – it was breathtaking. But what specific said at time was ‘holy s***”

There’s simply no time to be articulate when something that weighs 20 tonnes breaks out of the water and gets airborne in front of you. The whole island, estimated to be 40 million years old, was a testament to the untouched beauty that remains hidden around our natural world.

The weekend trip also gave me the chance to meet several other passing tourists. Fires were lit, marshmallows were melted, and stories were shared. I particularly liked hearing how Wolfgang, our strongly accented German host, ended up in Tonga and built the entire lodge we were staying at, practically by hand! Pictures attached.

As always, stories from home also found their way to me. Well, directly via technology. That reminds me, I wonder where that “message in a bottle” with my blog address ended up… On one same day, one friend was exuberant that he progressed to a new job, while another shared the sad news that her dog unfortunately died.

Amongst my wishes that I was in a better position to celebrate and consult,  I was starkly reminded that time is indeed passing by like the clouds above – and that life itself, can be as capricious as the waters that surround. Even when it feels like I’m treading water, I try to create a splash and have some fun.

Right now, this means trying to absorb more of the culture before I leave the country – And less of the sun… I used to think only white people got singlet tans.

One way is by spending more time with the students who attend the Institute where I work. Their recent camp weekend brought back memories of my own school trip, which now, was almost a decade ago!

They may have occurred in different times, countries and cultures, but essentially, they were both about a group of friends just enjoying each other’s company. But in my Togan experience, It was especially warming to see how the students made do with just their own drama performances for entertainment, and not much more than blankets on the floor for comfort.

On the side, some good things have also been personally happening for me.  A new friend happens to also be a journalist and book editor, and she’s willing to help me get my own book ready for Amazon’s Kindle store. I hopefully will also be collaborating with some students on a song to preform at their graduation ceremony. To warm my vocals up, I recently re-recorded this old classic track. Check it out.

“Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted time” – John Lennon

My birthday nears in 27 days and once again I’m wondering about the person I should be. A parent? Married? Wealthy?  Bearded ? Age is in your attitude. The ‘older’ friends I’ve made on my trip, are proof and truth behind that statement. Even though there is a single grey hair above my left ear,  my armpits are still as smooth as the one liners I’ll be dropping on Tinder.

On a serious note, I really am looking forward to some of the conversations I’ll have and people I’ll see when I’m back. (If you read this and smile, congrats that’s you)

Of course, that’s if a whale doesn’t first swallow me. Seems like another one of those things that would happen – just to me.

No Ragrets

Tags : tonga

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