In the Kingdom of Tonga: Food and Friends

I want to make sure I finish the  Tongan hospitality story, because it doesn’t end with pick up (and drop off!) at the airport or even the loan of the car! On the night before we were scheduled to leave — by which time I should note, we had sussed out quite a number of Tongan systems and were almost beginning to feel like old hands — Sateki and his wife invited us to an umu (a New Zealand hangi), which is to say food cooked in an earth over, at their house. There was enough for about 30 people, but fortunately Sateki has several children (and a cousin turned up to eat as well) so I didn’t think anything would go to waste. Foolishly, we did not think of photographing the spread before we tucked into it, but here is a photo of what it looked like after we were done.

Tongan umu

The pig was fantastic, as was the chicken, the octopus, the salads, a kind of sweet dumpling (which I noticed the children liked), and something wrapped in some kind of (banana?) leaves. There was enough food for about 30 people, but fortunately, Sateki has several children (a cousin came to help us eat as well) so I figured the extra would not go to waste. Here are a couple of photos of the family –Sateki with two of his beautiful children:

Sateki with children

His beautiful and gracious wife, who made the most moving speech of welcome to us — even Matiu, a 15 year old boy, was overwhelmed by her warmth and generosity — and their three girls:

Sateki's wife and three girls

And a picture of the entire family, including the cousin in the back.

Uasike family

I haven’t got everyone’s name written down (my bad; Seven did tell me to make a note and I just didn’t do it), but we’ll get them from Sateki’s sister-in-law. I did have an extremely interesting conversation with their eldest daughter (in red), who appears to be something of a scholar. We left her the first two books in the Harry Potter series; she may still be a tad young for them (and English, after all, is not her first language), but I hope she gives them a whirl. I don’t know a child who hasn’t gotten hooked and it would certainly be easy enough to send the rest  (her parents have only to say the word and we will send them an entire library!!!).

I still really can’t get over how nice — what an inadequate word! — they were to us, and with absolutely no expectation of any kind of reciprocity. It does make you want to return the favor, though, if only you could figure our what would be most useful to give or do…

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3 Comments

Filed under adventure, Oceania, Pacific Islands, Tonga, travel

3 responses to “In the Kingdom of Tonga: Food and Friends

  1. Gail Cohen

    Please save me some of the salads and the sweet dumplings wrapped in banana leaves! Charles Lamb would have relished some of the roast pig.

    A kind, very generous family. Heartening to hear about.

  2. Gadi

    What utterly lovely people. I have copies of one or two of the later Harry Potter books that you’re welcome to send to Tonga.

  3. Ana Uasike

    I’m so glad they were as hospitable as you have mentioned and my niece would absolutely LOVE the series…The island is beautiful and you are only fortunate if you have relatives in America to help financially as jobs are also limited but natives really get creative and get by. The secret is working hands will benefit from the island’s lustrious earth. Here are the names of Sateki’s family: wife: Fine (Fee-nay), oldest daughter:Fine named after the mom, 2nd daughter:Sela (Say-lah), 3rd child:Kilisiana (Key-lee-see-Ana which is a combination of my husband Kilisimasi and myself), and their son and 4th child:Kolo (Koh-low).

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