Monday, December 7, 2009


Samoa as a country has its laws, some of which seem a little more absurd than others, such as it being illegal for a man to impersonate a female, however it is not illegal for a female to dress like a male. Each village also makes up their own rules to abide by. One of the big ones in Manunu is no drinking. Although I do not agree with this kind of law normally I do understand where it is coming from. From my two months of observations it seems as though people do not know how to stop drinking until they are sloppy drunk. They have no middle ground and so if they are to have one drink, it really equals many, many more. This causes the people in the villages to be on high alert as the drunks are ready to start fights and harass people.
One night I was hanging out in the faleo’o with my three brothers when a young man came by drunk. You could smell the alcohol coming off of him. He tried to grab my things and was acting very obnoxious. He was blocking the entry way to the faleo’o so I was unable to leave. Finally my cousins from across the street came by to try to help out in my situation. It was a rough night because these people cause you to lose sleep.
Dances in Samoa have been a lot of fun. Every week we were in Manunu they held a siva for us to have fun at. We were very cautious at first with dancing with others of the opposite sex. We were told during one of our many training sessions that it is polite and respectful to accept the dances from people of the opposite sex. But we should only dance once as if we dance more than once it will give off the wrong impression and you are thought to be dating that person and might give off more connotations.
The first two dances were held by the church as a fundraiser.
The first Friday was our welcome to the village. All of our tina’s made us beautiful outfits to wear. We were then called up one by one to talk a little in Samoan and Siva Samoa. At this point in our service we did not know much of Samoan dances (not that right now I know any more…) but we still tried anyway. When you are called to dance they put out a little bowl for people to put tala in. If others wish to dance at that point they are to drop money into the bowl.
Samoan men are very amusing to watch as they dance Samoan to a female’s dance. They remind me of a strange ape. They hop around on the floor patting their chest just like a monkey would. Then they lay on the floor in front of the female to allow the female to dance on them.
The second dance was for the youth group at the church and so it was us with a lot of little children. Whenever a song ends everyone sits down at the side. Then people come up to you and bow to ask you to dance with them. With so many children it was hysterical because the children would come running at us like a storm. We would have about 10 children around us waiting for us to stand up and dance with them. Many of us Peace Corps had the same silly dance where we jumped a while lot. I ended up giving myself such a workout that I pulled a muscle in my leg!
The third and fourth dances were more like a nightclub where you had to pay to get inside. They covered up an open fale with tarps so no one could see inside. They had a dj instead of the normal band. They money was raised for the family holding it so they could lend it out to others. (At least that was how I was understanding it.)
The third dance my tina made me another outfit that was very tight, but it was very nice. We went inside and it was hotter than anything, but at least they were playing great music. We danced the night away for a few hours… and then when it got too hot we went outside and danced in the rain. We were called up to the dj to introduce our self and say if we had a uo, or a friend (meaning boy/girl friend). We then did a group siva Samoa. As the night rolled on more and more strange people were showing up. The surrounding village men had come, and did not come sober. They would try talking and dancing with me and my Peace Corps friends, and we were not having any of that. This night we decided not to listen to the rule of dancing with people and did not care that their pride was hurt as how they acted it felt well deserved. By the end of the night we were covered in our own sweat so badly that it looked like we spent the whole night dancing in the rain. (The only way you could tell differently if by smelling us!)
For the fourth dance less Peace Corps people came, and so the girl to guy ratio was really bad! In the beginning we had a lot of fun dancing with ourselves. However as the night went on it got worse and worse. It seemed like there were more drunk people at the dance than lived in the village. Some of the Peace Corps girls did not feel safe and left. It is good to see that everyone still knows what to do when they reach a situation like that.
Our final dance was our departure from Manunu. We showed up earlier than the rest of the village, and of course many little children followed us. So we danced for a bit with the children. After some time the rest of the village came and we preformed a few dances; an all girls traditional dance, a boys slap dance, and a group sa sa, which is performed on the floor. After we did our dances the community asked us to perform the song we did at the district church festival the previous week. They were extremely impressed with our skills. We were then blessed with an amazing treat. Three of our language teachers dressed up like woman and did a hysterical dance to “Mama Mia”. In the middle of the dance two Samoan women came up to dance with them. One of them was my tina and she was hysterical as she used her full body in the dance moves.
I’m looking forward to many, many more dances in Samoa!

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