Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bike Accident

Biffing It
Maybe I am taking on more than I can handle. Maybe this is nature’s way of telling me to slow down…whatever it is…I don’t like it! This past month has not been the month that shows the strength I possess at all. I got sick for a few weeks, became better then a few days later sick again.
Today I was heading to the kolisi to help with the computers. (I have decided to teach 1-2 classes a week and also do an afterschool program for the year 12 and 13’s to help get them ready for their exams.) I headed out of my school compound, jumped on my bike and began zooming down the dirt hill of a road. I got to the three corners (known to the rest of the world as an intersection) and slowed down for my turn. Only I didn’t slow down enough…and my pulatasi got caught, making myself turn wide. I was on the side of the road and my bike ran over a rock and I suddenly felt the weight of my bike on top of me. I laid there for a minute and realized the pain I used to have in my foot (a nice hole on the sole from stepping on something that punctured through my shoe and then into my foot) and the tickle that has been in my throat making it difficult to talk (told you I was sick) was gone. I laid there in shock.
There was no one on the road and knowing the lack of traffic from cars I knew I had at least a few minutes to make sure I was okay.
I started to get up and tried using my wrists..failure. One of my wrists began shooting a pain like no other. I finally managed to get up. My handle bars were twisted. One of my knees was scraped and so was my foot. I touched my face and my hand was instantly covered in blood. I tried using my clothes to stop the blood but it kept flowing out of my chin. Nothing on me was broken and I wanted to go home to check in a mirror of the damage I actually did to myself.
I took my first step. I Struggled not only because my body ached but in order to move my bike, I had to have the handle bars crooked. Very difficult with the use of only one hand.
A truck came barreling down the road and asked to ensure I was okay. They offered to give me a lift to the hospital seeing me in blood. I refused thinking it was just initial pain and would go away later. I was stopped by a few others that were casually outside of their houses. One of the men fixed my bike to help me bring it back to the house.
When I entered my house my two brothers rushed over to me to find out what happened. Iosefa and Soki were amazingly nice. They helped bring my bike to the house and treated me so well. Iosefa even climbed a tree to give me a fresh coconut to drink.
It is about 7 hours later and blood is still trickling down my chin. My wrist still aches pretty badly. Tomorrow I will head over to the hospital to make sure I did not do anything to bad to it. I would go to the hospital by my house, but since there is no doctor and I am physically able to wait until tomorrow I will go to the main hospital on this island. (My fell happened around 12:30 and the last bus to the city had passed by over an hour before.)

Village Rules

Village Rules
I understand where certain village rules come from to make sure the village is safe and somewhat clean. There are many that I don’t agree with but accept since I am living in another country with completely different customs, but a few rule was passed recently that really has me questioning if the Matai’s are really looking for the benefit of our community.
I know of some of the village rules. Not all of them, but I haven’t broken the ones I do not know of, so I guess I am okay. Some of the rules to follow otherwise fines will be imposed are:
No dying hair
boys must keep their hair short
Girls after they enter kolisi must wear I’e or skirts and can not wear tank tops
you must go to church every week
you must pick up your trash daily (leaves) at your home and on the road by your plantation
if the village calls upon men to do work, they must go (such as cutting grass, or fixing pipes)
This past week I learned about a new rule that upsets me. No games. That means no volleyball, rugby, or basketball. This means they are supporting the lack of exercise in the village. I knew the game days previously to only one day a week to encourage schooling, but this is ridiculous. People need to get rid of their energy in more ways than climbing trees and cleaning.
I am not only worried about my village’s health but mine as well. I need the games. I guess I will just make use of the other villages nearby for games until this rule is changed.


Last week one of the people from Peace Corps came by to make sure my school understood what co-teaching meant and to see if we were doing it. I was happy to hear that me and my school are working well together.
I love going to each of the different classes and make sure I plan with them to make sure we are on the same page with teaching. I feel like we all have a lot to bring to the table and love working with them.
I was worried at the start of the week, as my teachers were not prepared to plan with me for Monday’s lessons. I knew it could go either way, but I was trying to stay optimistic.
Thankfully my teachers are good for our quick meetings and from going to their class often enough I knew what to expect. One of the classes I went to we co taught in ways that I thought we would have to work towards for months. It was amazing to work with her as we completely fed off of each other.
I am so happy to have such an amazing relationship with the staff at my school and am looking forward to see what else it can blossom into.


Friday night started like any other ordinary Friday. I was not expecting it to turn into an adventure. My family joined together for prayer to start the Sabbath then ate our dinner. I was lounging in the house reading when my brother asked about Elisa and wanted to know if he could text her. I figured he was just being Samoan and trying to find a way to get her phone number. When she didn’t answer from my phone, he explained his master plan and why he wanted to get in touch with her.
Her village was having a dance and he was told it would be a fundraiser for her village project. Being a music enthusiast, he desperately wanted to go. I told him I would join in. The first step was looking for a ride. We walked to the main road and started walking towards her village. Finally we found a car going in the right direction and they graciously gave us a ride.
The dance proved to be fun. It was a dance for the youth group of the Congregational Christian Church (EKFS) so I had a good time dancing with dozen of little kids at a time. Sometimes I was honored by some of the women dancing with me. My favorite dance partner that was a woman who was in her 70’s or 80’s. I also got to try my feel for Samoan dancing, although it caused more laughter than anything else.
I love that even though we are many villages apart, the people in my village know and respect Elisa and the same goes for my village. They are all thrilled whenever they see her, and I see the excitement on their faces when I come rolling in on my bicycle. (At least I think it is excitement…)
A few days later I went back to her village and she showed me her village project. They are building steps to the ocean and it is amazing to see. The people of her village are such hard and fast workers. They are so dedicated to their village and trying to find ways to improve it. I know part of the reason is because they have such a dedicated volunteer living there like Elisa.
(On a side note I had gotten sick the previous day, and I was told that my sickness was due to breaking the Sabbath by dancing.)

Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies
In America I think most people can agree that one of the best times of the year is Girl Scout cookie time. Being a former girl scout I have fond memories of going around to all of my neighbors and teachers trying to get them to buy a little box of deliciousness.
Ice cream companies made the cookie experience even better by selling the two of them together to make the most delicious combination.
As an adult I am still fond of these cookies. A few years ago while visiting TJ and others in Fairbanks, we went to a hockey game. In the concession stands were the Girl Scouts and so we enjoyed an amazing hockey game while munching on Thin Mints. I love my neighbors who do the door to door sales like I used to when I was little, but it is much more convenient now as the troops set up their own shop outside the store. I love how accessible these cookies are in America.
When I received a package from my sister containing two boxes of cookies it made my day complete. One of the boxes was my favorite, Thin Mints, and the other was Samoans. My sister thought it was funny to eat a Samoan while being in Samoa. (I agree it was funny and cute.)
Samoans as cookies are not my favorite and are terribly hard to explain to Samoans here. I was questioned about why the Samoans make these cookies in America, but they don’t make them here. If people who weren’t Samoan were able to make them, as well as many other questions.
I shared the box with my family and they were so excited about them. (Can you blame them…they are Girl Scout Cookies.) My little sister was hysterical to watch as she ate her cookies. She decided that if the cookies were called Samoans, each cookie in the box was Samoa, so half was Upolu and half was Savaii. She would take a little nibble and announce each village she had just eaten. (She is a very clever girl.) It made me crack up as she named off the different places on both island.
This just proves that the Girl Scouts of America are quite capable of putting smiles on people’s faces around the globe.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What is a house really?

An Empty House
When I used to enter a Samoan palagi style house I would be confused. Sometimes in the multi room house there was a table, a few pictures and maybe a chair. I didn’t understand the purpose of having this big house without having possessions in it. It made it feel so empty and dull. Where were the decorations? Where was the proof of life.
Lounging around after to’ogani at another teacher’s fale today I suddenly realized my thoughts on this topic have changed. No more do I just see an empty house, but I see a house full of life. A house that is easy to accommodate to anyone. A family that is more than willing to do anything for their guests, whether it be give them a mat to malolo on, or let them sit in the only chair to eat. They offered conversations about life, asked for help with things, even offered you clothes to change into. The people inside the house make the house come alive.
A house is really what you make of it. In America my houses have always been full of so much stuff that I felt defined me as a person. Even today my room is full by Samoan standards. I have a bed, a bike, a box used as a table for my belongings, and a suitcase for my clothes. My walls are cluttered with the many letters and pictures people have sent as a taste of home. But can it be that none of this stuff really defines me, and the best houses are the ones that are bare? Maybe I always needed to have these different things to not feel alone when I lived by myself. Samoan houses don’t have this problem as they seem to have people crawling from every which way to help you see that you are not alone.
Is a full house or a bare house better? I am not sure. I do know that the people inside the house make it more than just a space.


So in going with the Earth Day theme I thought I would share something that I learned in the paper. For years now cars in the States have begun to be run on corn gas. It is great because it is good for the environment (and has been costing less). I just learned how they are doing something similar here…
“Vehile runs on coconut oil” was the title of the article I just read. Apparently a few environmentalists got sick of using gas and decided to use their other options. They started with pure coconut oil, but found out that the oil solidified and blocked the fuel filter…which I am guessing is not good. Now they use 80% coconut oil and 20% kerosene and apparently it runs great.
In the paper they have a picture of him filling up the gas tank which is comical. Imagine using the shell of a coconut to fill up your car. I bet it must take hours!
What are they going to use the coconuts for next?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Earth Day

Bio Bag
I’ve decided to help out with Earth Day preparation and help get together a few lesson ideas and activities for people to use in the classroom and it got me thinking…
Although there are many things that we outsiders can complain about for their lack of environmental care in Samoa…like the amount of litter, there are many things that are positive out here that us Americans can only hope spread to our country as well.
The best thing I have seen is the Bio Bag. The bio bag can be seen at just about any store, and is a great change from the normal plastic bag. It is a bag made from all biodegradable stuff and will decompose if buried in the dirt for three months.

Animal Update

Animal Update
Sunshine the cow is still living with us. After trying to roam around the village too many times, she was finally put on a leash like all the other cows in Samoa. Sunshine is still cute even though she is growing up so fast.
The three dogs are doing well. Champ is my favorite as he loves going everywhere with me, to the bus stop, to church, it seems like he will always be my personal escort. The old dog that I have never learned his name is doing well. He just mopes around the house. Mufasa, who was the puppy we got in December, keeps running away from home during the day to visit her birth parents. He still doesn’t listen, but hopefully that will change.
I learned today that our cat likes to eat supo esi.
Last week we got a new addition to our animal family. We now have a horse. I don’t think he has a name yet, but he is beautiful. (I found out later that it is a neighbors horse….tied to our trees…. I still think he needs a name though!)

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, No it's I See the Future Girl!

The future
You may not believe me but I have a little box that can see the future. Every evening I can turn it on and see the next day’s news, sports and weather.
Samoa is interesting because since we are a small country we receive another country’s news to supplement our own…and that is New Zealand, which is located just on the other side of the International Date Line.
I never really took notice to this until one Thursday evening, Friday Night Football was on. It took me a few minutes to recognize what was wrong with the date.
Living here makes me feel like I have some sort of superpower. I feel as though I will I will come back to America being a superhero….Like Sees the future girl…or something…
I guess I should start thinking of a better name…

Monday, April 5, 2010

An Easter Without Chocolate Bunnies

My Easter Weekend
This is my third Easter that I have spent out of the US. I spent one in England on a high school trip, one in Japan with Jen and now here one in Samoa. Over the years I have had a lot of memorable Easters from our many Easter egg hunts growing up, spending time with family, my Easter dinners with Brandi while in our apartment in Laramie, learning how to shoot prairie dogs in Sheridan with Jamie’s family, and many more. This year was more of a learning experience for me.
I have always thought of Easter being a Christian holiday, and I thought all Christians celebrate and observe it. On Good Friday I learned that is not the case. When I inquired about this to someone they said it is hard to follow something when the date changes from year to year. It is sometimes in March, sometimes in April. When someone dies it should be the same day each year. I am sure there are other reasons, but that was the only answer I got at this time.
On Thursday, the day before our Easter break, school was eventful. In the morning the four teams of students gathered in different rooms to practice their skits and singing performances. I got bored of moping around the teachers room (I was still sick) so I travelled to the different rooms. The kids all invited me to join in with their songs and for some strange reason asked me for help with their dance moves (have they ever seen me dance well?).
The students all gathered inside the classroom with it’s walls down to do their performances. Two of the teachers acted as a judge and one of them decided it would be fun to act like Simon from American Idol…only bringing it to a new level by saying he was from China. The groups took turn and did a great time. I saw Jesus die four times, and all groups were remarkable. The teachers had three categories that they were rating the students in and gave out trophies to the three group leaders. (The trophies were reused time and time again, as one was a soccer trophy, another was an academic one and the third was something else.)
On Good Friday I was too ill to go to church, and this is when I learned that only one of the 4 churches in my village observes Good Friday.
Saturday I went to my Seventh Day Adventist Church. Our fai’fe’au is the pastor for a few different villages which makes him an incredibly busy man. Saturday the three churches met together which was a nice change. There is a great sense of family as although we may be villages apart, everyone still knows each other, and they welcomes all of us by name when we entered. It was also nice as normally the church boasts around ten people, but for that day it was packed.
Towards the end of the lotu, all the women gathered in one room and the men in another. They explained that they were going to have the bread and wine that represented Jesus but they first had to show how they were humble. To be humble, they washed one another’s feet. It felt nice to me to have a foot massage for the minute, and I gladly returned the favor.
After lotu we all had to’ogani together, and it is so sad to see a feast of amazing foods when you cannot eat most of it. Some of it because I was doing my best to observe Passover, and the rest because I still was not feeling 100%. I still had an awesome chat with the pastor’s wife and learned about her family in Fiji, Fijian sports, and her upcoming baby.
Today is Easter and I was all ready to go to lotu. Dressed in my best white pulatasi and had my brother drive me to the church (he was going to see the cows at the plantation anyway). We drove to the church and not many people are there and found out that it was uma. They changed the time of the lotu and I didn’t get the memo.
Instead of going home I went with my brother and his friend to the plantation. It was my first time heading to the plantations in this village and I am happy I did. It is beautiful there. Our dog Champ decided to come with us and ran in front of us the entire time.
One of the boys climbed the tree and brought down many delicious niu. We quickly cracked them open with the machete. (I was proud of myself for being able to do it all on my own. )
Later in the afternoon I went to the Methodist Church Service.
Being in my village is great because I really get to explore the different religions first hand. On the surface, they are very similar, but when you start to dig deep, you notice many gigantic difference, from the way they sing their songs, how they collect money, and even where everyone sits. It is real interesting and I love being able to learn more about the different religions each week.
Although this Easter was very different than ones in the past (there were no chocolate bunnies) I still am having a good time experiencing life in a new way.

the roach battle

I was learning to accept and live in peace with the roaches. They live in the bathroom and sometimes come into my bedroom, but we tried not to cross paths. We were doing a great job the first few months, until I made the mistake of sleeping on the mat on the floor….
Last week I decided that I would be a little more Samoan by sleeping on the mats on the floor and I had drifted off into the most comfortable sleep, when I awoke to something crawling in and out of my legs. I tried to go back to sleep covering myself a little better, but it happened again. I jumped up and turned on the lights and saw a cockroach scurrying into the corner. I took my sheet and made it into a cocoon for me and thankfully no roach entered it again for the night.
On my horrible travel day, in which there was no bus home, I had gone over to another volunteer’s house to sleep. There were a few of us and so I was sleeping on the mat on the floor halfway into the kitchen. I was sleeping so soundly when I felt a roach climbing up my chest. I was so exhausted that I tried to just flick it away, but it kept returning. Each time I kept getting it off of me it kept waking me up more and more. Finally I knew I could no longer sleep with that cockroach hanging all over me. I moved locations and went to sleep blocking the front door.
The final strike was two nights ago. I was laying in bed watching a movie on my laptop when a cockroach decided to check out what I was watching by climbing on my computer. I know cockroaches are not supposed to be attracted to light, but this one was… I have learned to come to terms about the ant colony that lives in my computer, but I am NOT having cockroaches reside there too.
I am a believer in the baseball rule of three strikes and then you are out….The cockroaches did a good job in allowing me to accept them at first, but now it’s war! Next time I am in the city I will invest in a big can of bug killer to be sure I will win the battle!

3 OH 3

I have come to accept that the only way to find new music is to ride on the bus. I don’t get radio by my house, and as for internet I have to pay by the megabyte so I do no stay on the web for long, especially downloading things. However bus drivers always seem to have the latest music to ever hit Samoa which is real nice treat to the bus riding experience. (Sometimes…)
It doesn’t seem too long ago that 3oh3 began branching out of the Denver music scene. Last week a fellow Denverneer (Is it Denverite? I don’t know)told me on his pase o va’a he heard 3Oh3 playing on the bus.
It is pretty exciting when you get to hear something recent from home reach Samoa.

A tree grows in brooklyn

If a Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Can One Grow in my Room?
A few months ago I noticed this vine entering my room from the corner of my room. I inspected the outside of the house and saw nothing near the house that can be causing it. So I cut down the vine hoping it would just go away….
This week I moved my bag that was blocking that corner…and the vine was back and longer. I went outside for about ten minutes looking for anything with a vine near my room…and I kept failing.
Something is definitely growing in my room, and I guess I should just be happy it is not poisonous or anything.
If trees grow in Brooklyn, why can’t they grow in my bedroom in Samoa?

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Last First Night Of Passover II

The Last First Night Of Passover Part II
Being a group of Jewish people from all over we all had our own traditions on how to have the Seder. Some of us cooked the foods similar to how mom might have cooked them. Others prepared the Seder plate similar to how our parents and grandparents did it. It was a great experience as we all were bringing a little part of our home to the dinner.
Being the eldest (besides my Samoan brother and his friends who did not want to impose on sitting through the entire dinner) and the host, I was the “father” of the family leading the Seder and was the first one to speak and to lead in the different prayers. It was really nice taking my mother’s role.
We had two Haggadahs and both of them were completely different. One of them I had used previously, as it was the free one from the supermarkets in New York City, and my Staten Island family all agreed it was not the best Haggadah. So we opted for the second one, which was a orthodox children’s Hagaddah. (It had real interesting pictures.)
We took turns reading and learned that this version along with having great pictures told us to do something that we never remembered hearing. Lean to the left. We all remembered the reclining position (although all we had was benches to sit on) but none of us had ever done the leaning. So every time it was mentions we had a great time exaggerating it.
When it came to sing Dayainu, we all realized that although that song is sung year after year, all of us still only know the chorus. It seems to be the only song that everyone thinks they know so well, but after being put in the situation of singing it without the words, or others who are confident with singing it, none of us really do know it.
When it came to dinner we realized something pretty remarkable. With confidence we could say that we were the only ones having a Seder in all of Samoa, and since we are supposed to start the meal based upon the sunset, we can assume that our amazing family was the last one on the world to be having the first night of Passover in 2010.
While we were eating, and my brother and his friends did not hear any reading or prayers going on, they figured they can come in without feeling like they were intruding. We fed them all of the different foods on the table. Some were a hit, the dessert thing that I forget the name of, and some were not, the matzo. They still seemed to be pretty interested in what we were doing and it was great to share the time with them.
Being the header of the night, I hid the Aifikomen, and after dinner all of my guests scavenged the house looking for the elusive piece of matzo. Although Rachel was the one who found it, I decided to do as my parents do and give a prize to all that looked for it. (Thanks Tammy for the delicious Christmas treats package, it made a great Passover prize package as well!)
As the night came to a close, we opened the door for Elijah to drink his glass. We realized opening the door for Elijah was just like leaving treats for Santa Clause. No matter what the treats, or drinks will always be gone by morning, and no one knows who exactly drank or ate the food.
The Hagaddah also had a song for the first night of Passover, which we decided should be a group effort, even though there was only one book. The book was passed along and we all sang the song however we felt it should take a turn, as the rest of us did backup. It was the most amazing song that I ever took part of. If I ever have the opportunity to share this video with you, make sure to ask for it.
The night was coming to a close, and a few people had to leave very early in the morning, so we had a fun sleepover. We put a few mattresses together on the floor, laid out together while watching a movie and went to sleep.
At 1:45 AM the alarm went off for those that needed to head home early for the first boat (and Elisa) so they could catch their bus.
The next group of us left a little after seven while I was heading towards school.
We all agreed it was the most memorable Seder we had been a part of. Partially because if we were at all homesick, it gave us a little piece of home. Also because it gave us the opportunity to share our customs with our new friends and family members. We all learned how Passover is done in each of our households at home, and brought a little piece of it to our group. I think this is something that will stick with us forever.
It is a few days later, and I still feel like I am sharing my beliefs and customs with people all over my village. After offering me bread daily at school, they are beginning to understand that it is not something eaten during this week for me. After eating leftovers of latkes this week, my family is beginning to understand how different pancakes can be made.
Peace Corps is a cultural exchange between myself and the Samoans, and observing Passover in a Samoan household is a great way to do this, as although Samoans are rich in the bible, many of them are unsure of the Jewish religion. Just as I go to church weekly to learn about theirs, they have the opportunity to see mine.
I am very excited to have another Seder in Samoa next year, although in the Hagaddah it says for us to be lucky enough to share it in Israel next year, I am looking forward to it being in Samoa and sharing it with more people.

The Last First Night of Passover in 2010 Part I

The Last First Night Of Passover Part I
2010 has already been full of memories and this week we added one more to the list. Passover.
For months Rachel and I had been planning on how we can have the best Passover ever, looking up recipes and figuring out logistics on where we can actually hold it to cook all of our food, figuring out who we should invite, and much more.
I asked my family about hosting the day’s events, and they were planning on being out of town as my sister was heading back to California. However, they still agreed that we can host it.
Rachel had met two University students a few weeks prior who were about to give up on having a Seder until they heard of our plans to host one. So the day before Passover I found Ethan and Hailey and brought them to Savaii with me. Elisa, since she only lives a few villages away was also ready to partake in the day’s events along with Nate who is working in Upolu.
Being in a country where American volunteers and students are the entire Jewish population, we knew that we were in for a special treat of a lot of work as everything had to be made from scratch, and recipe items would have to be switched to accommodate for what is actually on this island.
We started with making matzo which is made with flour and water. A mayonnaise jar was used to roll out the dough, and because no forks were to be found in my house, we used a butter knife to make the indents into the dough. (We wanted it to be legit, just like what you might find in the store.) Some of the matzo pieces had messages written in them with the knife, and they were all unique and amazing. They were cooked in our very hot oven, and when they came out they tasted to amazing. It makes me never want to use store bought matzo again. It also made out three matzos in the middle of the table unique as they were all different sizes and shapes.
We then made some kind of dessert, which everyone loved. I forget what it was called but it had pieces of matzo, raisons, apples and eggs. Everyone including our Samoan guests devoured that dish of food.
Haroses was also on the baking agenda and proved to be the most challenging. We bought tons of apples (although the week before we contemplated using vi…to make it a little more Samoan, but opening a vi is too much work!) Finding walnuts was one of the most difficult things to find in Samoa. After searching all of Apia and Salelologa, we finally settled for Planters version of mixed nuts, but at least it included walnuts. It was hysterical watching our amazing team of chefs take the can and separate it into the different nuts to figure out which ones were the best to use. Spices (except for salt and curry) and pretty much nonexistent in most shops, so when I forgot to get it in the few stores that sell it, I failed our Passover team in providing the cinnamon for both the haroses and apple sauce. Shopping for food items to make this was also a learning experience as I found out that honey is actually made in Samoa, although it is full of more liquid than honey that I have tasted in the States. I think the honey caused the haroses to be a little more liquidly than normal, but it still tasted good. As a final touch since we are in Samoa, we decided to add pineapple to give the food more of a Samoan taste.
We were planning on making oka for our dinner, and bought all of the ingredients for a delicious fish dish. (I went to the fish market at 6 am on Sunday to make sure I had the perfect fish.) However, with travel mishaps, and freezing and unfreezing the fish, it became bad, and left us with a delicious salad full of cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes. We were all looking forward to learning how to make oka…but I think the lesson learned is get the fish in Savaii as the travels from Apia can be unpredictable.
One of my favorite Jewish dishes is latkes and the general consensus was to have apple sauce or sour cream with it. Sour cream would have had the same difficulties as our fish, and so I am glad that I forgot to pick it up from one of the two stores that might sell it. We did decide to make apple sauce and it tasted great.
While making the latkes…we decided to let no potato go ungraded, which meant we had a lot to make. What’s worse is we had a lot of onions to grate. Shortly after grating, we were all in tears trading off on the work of making this dish complete. (I also have two battle wounds from the grater.)
In the middle of cooking our magnificent feast, we realized that we forgot to pick up the lamb for the Seder plate. Elisa and I traveled to all of the stores in my village searching for mutton as it is the only lamb available, but none of them had it, so we walked to the next village. It is really great being close to each other as everyone in my village seems to know her, and vice versa. On the walk around everyone greeted us (along with saying “ska tupe”, which was pretty embarrassing since the children normally aren’t as greedy) and we even saw one little girl carrying around a bird. We finally got a piece of mutton (frozen of course) and off we went to cook it.
Most of us did not really like mutton and were only putting it on the Seder plate for symbolic purposes only, but it still needed to be cooked. Living here is unlike America, because although I may have a “Palagi kitchen”, there still isn’t a microwave to defrost meat in. So we fried it. Soon, it became defrosted in some areas enough to cut it so it could be cooked properly. And it was.
All six of us were as busy as can be cooking as we munched on pineapple to give us endurance to keep on going. We decided to make it more of a Samoan experience by listening to unforgettable Samoan classics that we would hear on the bus as we cooked. It was definitely a memorable cooking experience.

The Elusive Purrr

The elusive purr
Albert and Sativa are two of the most amazing cats. They sometimes think they are dogs as they play fetch and play in the snow. They are affectionate and really can cheer you up after any situation. I am very glad that Jen is taking care of them, so they can still enjoy being two of the strangest cats as they harass Mike’s feet as he walks, as well as terrorize all of the neighborhood dogs.
When I moved in with my family a few months ago, I noticed they had one and a half cats. (One is always there, and one comes and goes.) The one who was is always home is different than any cat I have ever seem as it seems like it despises affection. If you put your hand hear her to pet her, she will hiss and run away.
Cats are in the unique position as they are the only household animal that is allowed in the house. This allows them to be very important to me at the dinner table. I have come to terms that I should eat meat, however, I still cannot get myself to eat the fatty pieces or eat the meat all the way to the bone. I have become an expert at sneaking pieces to the cat who sits right underneath my place at the table, and it took me about 2 months until I got caught by my brothers.
I have used this opportunity to try and try again to pet this cat, however she does not want any affection from me whatsoever. I sometimes get a short little pet, but it is hard to get that far. (I cannot imagine the trauma this cat might have gone though to act this way.)
About two weeks ago I succeeded to petting the cat and heard for the first time “Puuuuuuuuuuuuurrr”. It was amazing to hear. (Even though I still have trouble getting my fingers close to her.) my mission is to try to teach her her that she does not have to fear all humans while I am here.
Maybe another day I will catch her on a good day and hear this majestic sound again.
(On a side note…inside the life of this cat….She gave birth to kitten about 2 months ago. One died right away, and a second died as soon as they were big enough to walk and leave their room. When I came back from my trip to Apia last weekend the last one disappeared. I am not sure what happened to it. Maybe the fact that she keeps losing her kittens is a reason to be so upset all the time.

Ode to Daddy

Ode to my Father
Oh dad, how I miss you. This past week was not my most successful week medically speaking and it made me think of the olden days when I had you taking care of me.
Hopefully I am not grossing anyone out, but I had lice, got tested for mono, thought I had strep (I think it was just a bad cold) all at the same time.
With the help of my medical officer I think I am doing a good job of getting over these many issues. But I miss the days when I was little and I could count on you for everything….
I remember when lice was going around PS4, and both Billy and I got the little creatures. Mom helped detangle my hair, while you washed both mine and Billy’s hair without any sign of disgust for dealing with the ugly creatures. With having lice for the second time in my life, I have learned that washing and combing out the creatures, is a tougher job than it appeared to be.
You also put my health above your job. If I were to ever be sick before, during, or after school, I knew I could always count on you to make the long trip from Brooklyn back to Staten Island to help care for me. (I do know that mom would have done the same, but as I have learned over the past few years, preparing for a substitute teacher, especially last minute can be difficult.)
It may be twenty years late. But I wanted to thank you one more time again dad. And I know that if I was a little bit closer, I know you would be more than willing to do the same to help me.