Saturday, October 10, 2009

tsunamis and funerals

The first day in Samoa was an adventurous one. We got our new Samoan names…my name is Lili. We did a ceremony welcoming us to the country of Samoa. This is done in the villages as well. It sounds like we will be a part of it a lot of times while living here. For the Ava ceremony there are a few speakers that say things. They are the leaders of the group welcoming us. It is a big deal to be one of those people. There are also two people that give us coconut shells full of kava. We all say something in Samoan, drop a little bit onto the ground and drink the rest. I still think kava tastes like dirty water!
After the ceremony we were given some time to rest and we were in our rooms. A little while later we heard knocking on doors and were told to meet in the conference room (also the dining room). We were told about the earthquake on another Pacific Island and that we were in a tsunami watch because of it. While they were talking to us sirens began to go off and it was immediately changed to a tsunami warning. We all ran down the stairs and jumped into vehicles so we could flee as fast as possible. After the cab of the truck was full, we all began piling into the bed of the truck. I think we had at least ten people in it. We began to go up hill. While in the vehicle we saw little children and immediately one of our trainers jumped out of the truck bed and went to go assist these children. We also saw a woman in a wheelchair and someone running to bring her uphill. We travelled until we reached the Peace Corps hostel. A few volunteers that were nearby also showed up. The rest of us in training and volunteers went to the country directors house. They were constantly on the phone making sure everyone was accounted for and safe.
While outside the hostel I talked to one of the volunteers and learned about this worm that people eat. Apparently it is only available once a year and this Saturday is the day people go out with nets to get it. I guess they eat it raw. It costs like $100 Samoan a worm because they are so rare.
Not too long after we were safe and clear to leave. We weren’t allowed to be in the back of the pick up anymore, so we had to wait our turn to get back to the hotel.
Later that day….we heard another siren….at 5pm….
They apparently do it at the end of the work day…
And today we learned they do it at the start of the work day….at 9pm.
In the morning we took a walk. A few people wanted to scope out the terrain for running. There are quite a few uncovered manholes so it was good for them to check it out. We also learned about the local dogs. Apparently they do not like runners and they will attack them. Many many many people told us to carry rocks or sticks to hit the dogs.
Today was a holiday for the tsunami and earthquake victims. We saw a parade of the funeral procession. Just like in the US, they use four ways on the vehicles.
Things are going well and it is such a beautiful place to be here!

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