I guess I’m starting my training for biking around the island. First it was to Falealupo, this time it was to Asau. I think I’m getting stronger, because biking to Asau it was a piece of cake, probably because we didn’t leave in the heat of the day. I see nothing wrong with the distance from me to the end of the district, 9 villages away. Travelling in the rainforest of the area where we switch districts seemed like an easy ride (even though it was probably about 30 minutes of not seeing houses or anything). Thankfully Dana was my biking buddy again and it took me about 3 hours to make the trip.
When we got to Asau we met up with Matt and Elisa as we enjoyed a fantastic lunch and swimming in the ocean there. We all decided it is hard to believe that this is where we live. It is such a fantastically beautiful place. There is always so much to do (or so little, depending on how you look at it).
We then decided our biker gang (we are cool on our mountain bikes) needed to go out for a ride. Matt took us on a tour of Asau where we learned that Asau is like an actual city with how big it is. (There are a little over one thousand people there from what I was told.) None of us have experience that in a long time, so it was funny to see so much activity. We went on a road that looked like it is barely used these days as it was a complete off road biking experience for us. We went to the abandoned saw mill and it is amazing how big the old rusty machines are. They just sit there growing older and older. I wonder how long it has been since these machines have been in actual use. The saw mill is so big and it must have employed so many people. I wonder what people decided to do for work when it closed, or even if they did go back to work.
Right past the saw mill all of a sudden I saw Matt stop short. (Making Dana as well as she was trailing him.) He heard a small sound and looked down and there was a kitten in the middle of the road (which was dirt and tall grass). The kitten was tiny and had its eyes closed. We looked around and found two more. They were trying to move, but were too little to move their legs. We guessed that they were about a day old. We stood there on the road waiting to see if we saw some more kittens or if we could find their mother, when out of nowhere a truck came barreling down the road. We barely had enough time to move our bikes to the side, and if we weren’t there the kittens would have been complete road kill. We knew we had to do something. Thankfully I had my bag that I attached to my bike with me. We emptied the contents and took the three kittens with us.
The kittens all squirmed about on top of each other as they were probably terrified. (I would be too if I was in their shoes!) Elisa said that her neighbor in Asau (Her family has family is Asau) had a momma cat that was nursing kittens. We decided to try it out and see if she accepted three more into her litter. We pulled her two kittens off (they are probably two weeks old) and introduce one of the new ones. She licked it as the kitten went off to find its food source. Success! We had saved a few kitten’s lives! We introduced the other two. One of the kittens kept getting lost and was unable to find the milk.
Matt and I left to get a thank you gift for the family that would play host to the new kittens. (Elisa promised the family that it would not be permanent, as she was busy sending out mass text messages to everyone we knew to see if anyone would want one when they were big enough to leave.) At the store we picked up tea and cookies for the family. They seemed happy with our gesture so that was good. When we came back Dana and Elisa put the other two kittens with the mom so she was nursing all five! Mom was not the happiest as she was growling but she just laid there as she realized she will just accept them as her own.
Sa (Curfew) was about to happen so we rode back to Matt’s house where we enjoyed a delicious dinner of peanut butter sandwiches and vegetables. Matt is smart and keeps all of his food in the fridge and freezer so we enjoyed frozen bread with cold peanut butter. It was surprisingly amazing like that.
The day felt like it was a made for television movie complete with a happy ending. It was a great time.
The next day we awoke to leave early in the morning. We decided that we wanted to explore Neiafu during the day then return to our respected villages. I was exhausted from the ride the day before and we started off with a complete steep uphill trip. My gears on my bike were having trouble finding a gear that they actually wished to work in. Many times I was pedaling and felt like it was not helping my cause. So, I decided to walk up a lot of the hill. One of the times I was actually on my bike I suddenly turned around causing Matt to wonder (He knew I was having trouble with my bike and was expecting the worst!).
I had found a mango tree and I was hungry. Matt and I went searching for mangos around the tree as I ate one and then we filled our bag with the rest of them. It gave me more energy to continue the uphill journey. When we got to Neiafu we stopped at the bus shelter to enjoy snacks. A lady stopped by to talk with us and we took turns practicing our Samoan. It was such a great time sitting around this little bus shelter sharing our mangos and chatting about our lives. Then the rain began, in was only a slight drizzle and felt nice after such a hot trip. (Leaving for biking at seven in the morning is way too late in the day!) We were then given noodles and ice cream for lunch. The ice cream I had was probably the best cone I had in my life. We were told it would be lime, but it was chocolate chocolate chip….delicious!
We then went on our exploration trip. We went on a hike in the jungle to try and find this mysterious private beach. Dana and I tried to find it last time I was in Neiafu and were unsuccessful, partially because we were pressed for time. We went off the trail and headed towards the water. Matt took a piece of tree bark and used it as a machete to help clear the way. Dana and I were wearing the normal Samoan shoes (flip flops) and we were still struggling on the many hidden rocks and vines that shot out in every direction. It began to rain, and I don’t really mean, like drizzle, it began to pour. We probably hiked for an hour and a half, going on a route that no other Polagi has probably seen. It was gorgeous seeing the gigantic trees growing in every which direction, seeing the coconuts trying desperately to grow into their own tree. I stopped several times to ring out my clothes as there felt like there was enough water soaking in them to fill a swimming pool.
We somehow reached the water, only it was not the beach. We saw the beach still off in the far distance and knew we were not going to make it there. Instead of going back on the trail we just took, we decided to travel on the rocks. The rocks look like lava rocks only they are completely slippery due to the downpour and being next to the ocean. There were plenty of little fresh water pools on the rocks where we stopped to watch the little fish swimming about.
We then passed by two men fishing. They had their homemade fishing rods (What else should I have expected?) using little fish for bait, as they stood on the edge of the rock cliff fishing. We sat there on the rocks watching them. It was so amazing to see them go about their business. This is probably the way they have been doing their fishing for the past thousand years. It is impressive to see how successful their way of life is when it is at its simplest. Everyone does well in Samoa living off of their land. They know how to farm the food they like to eat, and raise their meat they like to eat. Anyway, one of these two men was watching us watch them and cracking jokes about us in Samoan. We didn’t mind because we still were able to see the beauty in what they were doing.
Finally we decided that we needed to leave as we were not going to be spending the night in Neiafu and wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for us to bike home. I collected several more cuts on my arms, legs, and feet as I tripped over the rocks but it was worth it to go on the adventure we had just taken part in. We headed to a little beach where several kids saw us going, and decided to join us. It was relaxing swimming in the ocean again with friends. The kids were trying to impress us with the trick dives they could do off the rocks. (I was so nervous the entire time, ready to get my lifeguarding skills to good use as the water was shallow.)
By the time we had finished it was still pouring and we knew we did not want to ride in the rain. (Matt scared me when he mentioned hydroplaning on a bike…I never thought of that, yikes!) We laid down and just when I was about to sleep we noticed the rain had stopped. We did not know if this was going to last and if we were going to leave now was the time!
I headed home. I was tired riding on my bike as my gears did not want to switch and it seemed as though I was always stuck in the wrong gear. I was tired, it began to rain and I began to wonder if my father in my village would pick me up at the place where I collapsed on the side of the road. When all of a sudden I saw one of the vehicles in my village going in the opposite direction. I did not know how far they were heading, but I did not want them to think of me as being weak and a quitter. I decided I would beat them home. I suddenly had this gigantic surge of energy. I began biking faster than I did the previous day when my legs were fresh.
When I was about seven villages away from home someone asked me if I wanted to stop and take a break. This was the same person who stopped me last time when I was heading home from New Years. I decided to accept their invitation and had a great talk with this family. They had seen me perform in my dancing debut in Sagone and had remembered me from that. They also knew my family. (Although it seems as though everyone I run into knows them.)
I was so excited when I made it home and ready to eat! Biking really takes the energy out of you. I had biked about 90 kilometers in the past two days and it was a great experience. Maybe I’ll be ready for the bike trip around the island sooner than expected.
I am going to try to do one big biking trip a month. For February I am planning on trying the trip to Salelologa which should be amazing, as long as my gears hold up!