1) A brother and a sister
can never be in the same room alone as it implies incest.
2) The day after a couple is married, the groom's female relatives
take the sheets off of the couple's bed and take it to the groom's parents. They show the sheets to his parents and if the
sheets are stained with hymen blood, then they know she was a virgin.
3) The first question out of everyone's mouth here
is 'alu ki fe? Where are you going? I hear it at least 20 times a day. It's another way of saying hello.
can't go swimming on Sundays and all stores are closed for the Sabbath. You can get arrested for swimming or doing laundry
5) Tongans won't walk in the bush at night because they're afraid of the devil (ghosts).
6) Just talking
with a girl or being alone with her implies that you're together. Hence, I have about 30 girlfriends according to the Tongans.
Tongans enjoy beating things. Husbands beat their wives, parents beat their children, teachers beat the students, and everyone
beats the animals. This is no lie, dogs are so used to getting beaten here that they are quite vicious and try to attack strangers.
But, all you have to do is bend down like you're picking up a rock and they run.
8) Girls usually do not wear anything
above their ankles or show their shoulders.
9) Some guys are always drunk on kava from morning until night and even the
some ministers get drunk before church. Somehow this is ok but I can't go swimming on Sunday.
10) Tongans bathe regularly,
but their favorite way to bathe is in the rain.
11) They make their own liquor out of sugar and yeast - it can make one
go blind if not kill them.
12) Any illness that cannot be explained is attributed to the devil. Sometimes when someone
gets sick they think it's because their dead relatives are upset so they go dig them up and clean their bones.
feed their babies by chewing up food and spitting it into their mouths.
14) It is not uncommon to see 1-2 year-old babies
wandering the streets alone since there is little traffic and no real danger. Three-year-olds will be left in charge of one-year-olds.
Two-three year-olds play with bush knives (big machetes).
16) If you have a child and your older sister wants the child,
you have to give it to her.
17) Marriages are sometimes arranged by the parents.
18) Tongans sleep on the floor and
often use a brick or a rock as a pillow.
19) They believe everything they see in American movies. A lot of them think if
they go to America they will be shot. They love Jet Li the most.
20) If a family has a lot of sons and they need a daughter, but
the next child is another son, the boy is raised as a girl (fakaleiti).
21) Legally, the husband has complete rights
over the children. Women can never have custody or own land.
22) Tongans give you everything you need and make you part
of their family, but they like to borrow things without asking and never return them.
23) Its pretty acceptable for boys
of any age to smoke.
24) The Tongan government sold passports to the Chinese a few years ago and now the Chinese have a
large representation here and the Tongans don't like them too much -- in fact they mock them daily.
25) The favorite foods
are: fish heads, pig heads, canned beef, and mutton that is imported here because it is illegal in all first-world countries.
Possession of marijuana laws just changed. For any possession, it's either TOP 250,000 (US$120,000) fine or 25 years in prison.
On that note, prison is not really prison. You can pretty much go and come as you please as long as you check in every two
28) Animals are not kept in cages or fences so there are pigs, chickens, horses, and goats running everywhere and
thus it is impossible to go one day without stepping in poo of some sort. Also, the babies roaming the streets defecate where
29) At the bank, you not only have to wait forever but Tongans will walk right up to you and look at your
bank book over your shoulder to see how much money you have.
30) The Tongan word for masturbation is hoka niu (husk
31) I live 75 miles from the capital and it's either a 45 minute plane ride or an 8-16 hour boat ride depending
on the boat schedule.
32) It is illegal for both men and women to have their shirt off in public.
33) The minister always,
every time, cries during his sermon.
34) There are many Mormon missionaries here. They always travel in groups of two and
can never leave each other's sight for two years, in order to make sure the other one is not sinning [they are not allowed
to swim and it's HOT here]. They get their own planets when they die and already have the password to their planet.
Some Tongan men shave their arms and legs.
36) Dogs are often eaten as well as horses.
37) Cows are tied to trees with
about 4 feet of rope.
38) If two Tongans are walking but only one has shoes, they'll each only wear one shoe.
albinos look just like really pale Caucasians.
40) Tongans can't believe that there are Black and Asian Americans.
They have no concept of distance and the size of the world or the size of America.
They ask me where I'm from and I say around Chicago because they know Michael Jordan. But then they ask, is that near the same VILLAGE
as Katie (another Peace Corps Volunteer). She lives in Virginia. State, village, whatever.
Most don't know that Bob Marley, Elvis, or Tupac are dead. One guy thought Elvis lived in Iraq because he saw a picture of an Iraqi woman in a market selling an Elvis painting.
43) The big social gatherings
are at the wharf when the boats come in, which is usually 2 or 3 in the morning. This is where you can find a girlfriend/boyfriend.
The Internet just arrived on my island 2 months ago.
45) The Tongan kids think it's cool to come over and use my toilet
for some reason.
46) The liquor that's actually sold here is the most vile thing you can imagine. The beers have stuff
floating in them a lot of times.
47) Tongans love to look in each other's windows.
48) You will see 3 or even 4 kids
on one bicycle.
49) Tonga has to be the capital of the world for seeing dogs stuck together. If you don't
know, dogs sometimes get stuck together for a while after sex.
50) All Peace Corps Volunteers have had a child under age
9 and as young as probably 4 or 5 tell them to Fuck Off or Fuck You. More American movies.
51) It is customary to kiss
the corpse at funerals.
52) Peace Corps Volunteers are usually the only ones with both refrigerators and stoves in their
53) Tongans, per capita, are the largest people in the world.
54) The main road on my island runs right through
the middle of the airport runway and has to be shut down when a plane is landing.
55) One of the worst things you can say
to somebody is mata 'usi (ass face).
56) You cannot show your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse affection in public. You
will never see them hold hands, much less kiss.
57) Women can't drink kava, they can only serve it.
58) The King's grandson
gets McDonald's flown to him from New
Zealand a couple of times a week.
The King reportedly has over US$200 million. The Gross Net Product of the country each year is about US$25 million.
The King's word is law.
61) The Tongan word for blow job is kai 'akau (eat wood).
62) The word for "mute", noa,
is the same as the word for "zero".
63) I know a guy named Vaipulu (beef water).
64) Tongans are never alone and if
you want to be alone to read or do whatever, they think you're homesick or unhappy.
65) If you go into a house with a girl
and close the door, it is assumed you're having sex and thus people come stand outside your windows.
66) People who are
suicidal are a lot of times put in handcuffs and thrown in prison.
67) If the King dies, people wear black every day for
68) They don't have fishing poles. They use a spear or tie some fishing string around a beer bottle and use
that as a reel.
69) One of their favorite jokes is to swerve their car at somebody walking on the side of the road.
They have fundraising carwashes like we do at home. Except, they don't wash your car, you just give them money while they
hold a sign that says "carwash".
71) Everything that is good is described as 'ifo (delicious): food, sex, sports,
swimming, watching movies, music.
72) The weather report is one of two things, either fair or rainy.
73) The Tongan
radio can play Kenny Rogers and then follow it up with Eminem then to ABBA then to Patsy Cline then to Eminem then to UB40
then to The Doors then to Eminem. They also have these interesting mixes that Tongans have made, like a Creedence Clearwater
song mixed with Tupac or a Frank Sinatra song mixed with Tupac.
74) The one Tongan television station shows movies occasionally.
But if the scene is about to show people hug, hold hands, or kiss, the screen changes to a picture of the ocean with elevator
music in the background.
75) The newest and nicest buildings are the Mormon churches and schools.
76) The tallest building
in all of Tonga is 5 stories high.
77) Tongans raise their eyebrows to indicate yes. They
put a finger diagonally across their forehead to indicate you're crazy.
78) A friend from home sent us a porno DVD as a
joke. The Mormon principal borrows movies from us. One day she returned the porno to us. We didn't know she had taken it.
The King once had a jester, but the jester stole US$20 million that the King had entrusted to him to invest.
80) The King
bought two boats to bring his own personal oil supply from the Middle East then realized he was using more
oil on the boats than he was having shipped.
81) Young Tongans will come to a foreigner's house and just stare at them
without saying a word. Or they will look over your shoulder while you read.
82) Some are taught that cyclones and natural
disasters are good things because then they get more foreign aid.
83) Most of the shops have no set hours. They open and
close as they please.
84) There's a church on every corner -- no kidding.
85) Tonga was where the Mutiny on the Bounty took place.
86) Dogs, random children, and anyone else is welcome in the classroom
87) Men and women who are married sit on opposite sides in church except at the Catholic Church.
like George Bush and call him Bushy even though I have personally guaranteed to them that he has no idea where Tonga is and probably has never even heard of it. They do say that they like Arnold Schwartanegger better though and wish
he were president.
89) They're amazed that I have no brothers and only 2 sisters. Very small family to them.
also like to feel the hair on my legs and arms.
91) This one kid licked my feet and said he loved the smell of Americans'
92) Yes I wear a skirt everyday, but it is very unrestricting and freeing.
93) You eat with your hands here for
the most part which is fun.
94) The rain is collected in large cement tanks which is then used for drinking water.
There's no hot water, so when the temperature drops into the 60s, I heat my water on the stove and have a 'bucket bath'.
Pornography is illegal.
97) Some women never leave the house except to go to church.
98) Most of the laundry is done
99) I've only seen lightning once here in 14 months.
100) I have a lot of free time as you can see.