Where I ramble about what I do in Tonga and how I got there in the third person

Originally written for Friends of Tonga, an American NGO, for their monthly member spotlight.

Virginie Dourlet is going to write about herself in the third person. That reminds her of the good ol’ days on Facebook, and that makes her giggle.

Continue reading Where I ramble about what I do in Tonga and how I got there in the third person

Where I offer a reality check on “island life”

364 days ago, Cyclone Gita

When I was about to leave France to Tonga 6 years ago, a bunch of people told me nearly daily how lucky I was, how I’d be enjoying the beach everyday, how life would be a breeze and whatnot; and I, who had done my research, knew that arriving here in January meant in fact having to go through 4 months of cyclone season and that it was not exactly a “breeze” that would be blowing. 

I can’t help but roll my eyes very deep in the back of my skull at the memory, as in under one week, TD08 is the THIRD tropical depression affecting us. Continue reading Where I offer a reality check on “island life”

Photos with a story -2

« *Restaurant* In case you remember me » – Poesía mexicana con comida rica
Papantla, 22ndish December 2007

I ate chilaquiles en salsa verde con pollo for, I am pretty sure, the first time there. I had eaten chilaquiles en salsa roja before, but after that day, it’s always been salsa verde for me. I had a hard time remembering the name chilaquiles. I stared at it handwritten on a board and tried to associate it with something familiar while waiting for my plate. The best I found was Chirac. One of the very cheering ladies working the morning shift wore a casquette. Continue reading Photos with a story -2

Photos with a story -1

« Sète from a distance – complete with kite surf »
Plage de Sète, November 2011

Sète has a very special place in my life. It is the main city of the region where I holidayed with my mother’s family all of my youth. It is also my official second favourite city in France after Paris. This 16km long beach is no stranger to that ranking. Late songwriter and singer Georges Brassens, who in a song asked he be buried on it, plays a large role in my attachment to it. Anywhere I go in the city, his words and voice echo. I wonder what he’d think of the International Museum for Minor Arts that opened by the canal a few years ago. A beloved, decidedly nonconformist institution. Continue reading Photos with a story -1

Selekā, a tale of a community, kava and art

Capture d_écran 2018-02-20 à 13.38.53
The cover of the publication. Artwork by Selekā artist Taniela Petelō

(originally written in September 2016 for the Pacific Arts Association -2015 Tonga conference publication “Trading Traditions. The role of art in the Pacific’s expansive exchange networks”, 2017, by the author of this blog) (illustrations missing from this post)

Virginie Dourlet, independent scholar – Selekā member

During September 2015 a rare opportunity presented itself to share Tongan made Tongan artwork to fellow Pacific artists and academics. The Pacific Arts Association conference was held in Nuku’alofa and brought together a rich array of pacific minds specialising in the arts. Intimidated, the three Seleka artists in attendance, Tēvita Ma’ameivai Lātū, Taniela Petelō and Tēvita Hamani kept silent. When offered the possibility (and some may say, challenge) to present their work to the assembly, they seized it and delivered very personal introductions of their own path into the world of the arts: Continue reading Selekā, a tale of a community, kava and art

Cyclone Gita hit Tonga -and we need a lot of help to help the community


Cyclone Gita hit Tonga in the middle of the night last Monday 12th February as a category 4/5 tropical cyclone. One week later, while the whole nation is still hard at work cleaning and fixing what can be fixed already, we at Seleka feel we need to reach out to the wide world to help us rebuild our “art and community centre”.  Continue reading Cyclone Gita hit Tonga -and we need a lot of help to help the community

Où je râle, en bonne Française (qui vit sa citoyenneté hors de France)

Pourquoi, Française de l’étranger, je ne suis pas satisfaite des conclusions et actions prises en ce qui concerne notre accès au vote par internet :

2 millions de Français sont inscrits sur les listes consulaires. Beaucoup sont dans, ou à proximité d’un grand centre urbain où se trouvera un bureau de vote dépendant du consulat auquel ils sont rattachés. Pour ceux-ci, ce que j’ai à dire n’a pas d’incidence. S’ils veulent voter, se déplacer sur quelques kilomètres n’est pas beaucoup plus compliqué que pour quiconque se déplace vers son bureau de vote en France.

Beaucoup d’autres habitent dans une région du monde où le courrier est réputé fiable, et où ils pensent sans doute légitimement pouvoir faire confiance aux services de poste locaux pour leur délivrer les professions de foi et bulletins de vote, et les renvoyer au consulat, dans les temps.[Je note tout de même que j’ai appris à me méfier des services postaux au Canada et en Australie, deux pays pourtant du G20, alors je suis absolument certaine que les courriers étaient envoyés dans les règles de l’art, bordereaux à l’appui.]

Et puis il y a les autres, dont je fais partie. Je n’ai pas les statistiques, mais on doit bien être, au moins, un paquet. Nous habitons trop loin du consulat pour nous y déplacer et nous savons que nous ne pouvons pas faire confiance aux services de poste pour le vote par correspondance. Nous sommes donc réduits à nous résoudre au vote par procuration. Continue reading Où je râle, en bonne Française (qui vit sa citoyenneté hors de France)

Where it’s too hot to think today, but…

When you randomly happen to share your art projects on a hot Sunday, and feel like they’re getting more real by the minute. If any of my readers should be interested to know more, get involved (if in Tonga) or help fund raise (anywhere on earth), leave a comment and I’ll get back to you asap! Feel free to share if you like what you read 🙂

It’s also ok to comment about the weather, or just to say something nice about my lovely broken English with a French accent: It’s too hot to get it checked today!


Today is Sunday. It was so hot when I woke up at 7.30 that I couldn’t bear to read in bed for long. Although I do love to read the news in bed, especially in these troubled days in politics (French alert: this weekend we’re voting in the first round of the left wing Primary for our upcoming presidential election). I eventually steered up to turn the fan on, and went back to reading in bed.

But it proved insufficient, and I did what I never do on Sunday: I got up before 8.30. Maybe because my very bad sunburns from the 2.5 hour bike ride yesterday made me so uncomfortable. Or maybe because I could feel this was going to be a productive day. Yes, a productive Sunday in Tonga, in spite of burns that make me want to stay in all week. Continue reading Where it’s too hot to think today, but…