The Boat: Peace Corp Volunteer in Tonga

 THE BOAT (insert creepy music here) 11-20-07

Time to go and how will we get from Tongatapu to Vava’u you ask… the boat. I told Alofa (my 5 year old host brother) we were going to Vava’u and he said yea the plane. No I told him, we will take the boat. His face dropped and he said ohhhhh. That is telling from a five year old. I thought I would be ok with the patch so I made sure to put it on in advance so it had kicked in. Just in case I brought my Dramamine and I got some blue pills from Jacinta the PCMO. She didn't give a name as to what the blue pills were but she said they were for motion sickness, and the side effect is drowsiness. Now I am ready!

We had a room with almost all Peace Corps folks. It was a safe place for our stuff if nothing else. I was amazed how good I felt. I could even walk around. It was beautiful so I enjoyed the view of the islands as we sailed away. After about two hours I could feel the rocking a little more, so I tried to sit and take it easy. I talked with Bria, then Jason, then Amy and after a bit no one was around anymore. I thought I should go get my MP3 player so I headed downstairs. As soon as I hit the last step I didn't’t feel good so I sat down in our room. Poli was great, she tried to help as much as possible. She offered me water and food, but all they had was meat sandwiches. That is the last thing I wanted to eat so I just had water and Dramamine. After sitting down for a while I realized I should be closer to the railing, just in case. Once I started holding the railing it was all over. I wasn’t going anywhere. At least I had enough forethought to wear my hoodie and bring water. Other than that I was just watching the horizon. I learned a lot about boat movement as it relates to my stomach. Side to side is bad but side to side and forward and back at the same time, forget it. Looking at the horizon is good but looking backward and to the side is still not good even if you look at the horizon. Forward was the best way to face, so I held on and did my best not to puke. I remember calculating the cost of the boat and the cost of a plane, factoring in the time difference and swearing I would never do this again if I didn’t have to. I did see a flying fish. That was really cool. I didn’t realize they have almost winglike fins that they flap. Also they can turn as they fly. Wow evolution has come up with some crazy stuff.

Despite the cool fish I was about over this. Alicia, Justin and Bobby all asked how I was. Poli checked on me twice, but I wasn’t about to move. Then Lara came and talked to me for a while. She wanted to do whatever she could for me to feel better. She offered crackers and I thought that actually sounded good. She brought them and told me she had a spot for me upstairs where the boat wasn’t as rough. She even got my yoga mat so I had something to lay on. She took my stuff and Poli helped me walk and together the 3 of us got me upstairs to the spot she had made. It was a lot better even though they said I looked like Helen Keller because I still wouldn’t take my eyes off the horizon. I also took the blue pills which did make me sleepy but that was welcome at this point. Anything to keep my mind from the rocking of the boat.

On a happier note I have my placement. I will be working on the Southern most point of Tongatapu the main island. My job will be teaching English at a Government Primary School with an emphasis on pronunciation with the younger students and preparation for the nation wide exam for the older students. I have also been asked to help with staff development, so it is time to put this degree to work! I will leave Vava’u in two weeks and swear in as a volunteer December 12. Exiting stuff.

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