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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Iron On

Ironing
I hate ironing my clothes. My parents in America will be the first ones to agree to it. I feel like sometimes you have the potential to iron more creases into the clothes. In America my philosophy was if it was that wrinkled, one more washing would fix the problem. Right before I left, my sister made me being lazy about ironing even easier by purchasing one of those dryers that gets all the wrinkles out for you. Just put in your wrinkled clothes and poof! Magic! They were all gone.
Here I do not have that luxury. I wash my clothes in a oversized bowl and hang them to dry in the sun. This usually creates wrinkle free clothing. However, life kicks in and sometimes I do get a few wrinkles to cause me to iron.
I feel as though Samoans have an obsession with ironing. An outfit that had been taken care of with no creases at all will be ironed to be sure that person is looking their absolute best each day. This has caused me to cave under peer pressure to iron my clothes when I they probably look as good as they are going to get. I sometimes will rush to get ready and out the door, to avoid the few minutes of spending time with the iron.
This morning I picked my puletasi off the clothes line outside to wear to school. It looked impeccable thanks to my amazing job of washing. No creases, or even marks from where the clothes pins were. I was ready to get ready for school.
I walked back into the house and my mom was ironing her outfit and my sister’s school uniform. “Aumai,” she said so I passed her my puletasi and she ironed it.
I examined the clothing after, it honestly looked the same as when it began.
Other people who live with Samoans have the same issues. One of my friends had a mom who insisted on ironing every t-shirt before she would go out to exercise.
To me ironing seems like a waste of time when your clothes already look good. But I guess since I will be here for another year and a half, I need to cave and start embracing the ironing.
Besides, even in the heat of Samoa, nothing does feel better than hot clothes off the iron. It reminds me of those cold winter days (Even though it is summer in America, we still get to have our winter reports from our nearby neighbor of New Zealand.) in which I would make sure to grab clothes straight out of the dryer to get the extra warmth.
Iron on.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some Strings Attached

Strings
We were given yellow strings. The pieces of yarn were for our bags to help us at the airport to identify our bags back in October. Every Peace Corps group gets a different color, as it is used worldwide during staging.
Like most other volunteers I have kept my strings on my bag. It just reminds me of life before being here. When I was a different person. Since I have attached them to my bag I have had a life full of adventure and experiences.
I never knew the strings would be a sign of friendship until my ferry ride a few days ago.
I was waiting in the wharf for the boat, and a couple came up to me and asked if I was a PCV. I said yes, and they said they thought so because of the string. We instantly became friends.
Katie and Chad are PCVs located in Tonga and we shared our experiences in our own countries. We compared the similarities and the many differences. We talked about what there is to do when visiting our different countries, the issues with dogs (they are eaten in Tonga), our church going experiences and much more.
Talking to them made me thrilled that I had devised mental plans to visit Tonga in September, and when I was invited to stay with them, it made me even happier.
It was sad to say goodbye when we reached Savai’i. We exchanged information and tried to make plans to meet up again.
It is amazing that one little string can start a friendship. I guess it is a symbol of our Peace Corps family, a family that I am honored to be a part of.

Silly Lilly

Being Silly
I am at home. I love being in Samoa. I feel like I can act like myself with very little consequences, which means I always have a lot of fun here. I am always meeting new people and hearing their stories of how a Peace Corps Volunteer has touched their lives, and being invited to be a part of their lives. It is so easy to grow in family and friends.
The other night I was spending time with some friends in Apia, when I met a new person, and I reverted to my old silly American ways upon seeing a pen. I felt the desire to use it to write on someone. It was more than a desire though, it was a mission I needed to fulfill otherwise my night would be failure.
I turned to the gentleman I was talking to, and asked if her wanted a moustache
“I already have one.”
“But you don’t have a cool one with curly curls.” (My English is beginning to slip more than more and I could not think of the term for this kind of moustache.) I then explained how he could find a pretty little teine if he had this moustache. He still refused. Finally, the selling point, he could put one on me, if I got to draw on him.
I got to draw first, and only extended his moustache a little with curls, and think it looked pretty good. Then it was my turn to grow some facial hair.
I got my curly moustache on one side, then another friend grabbed the pen. He made it a hairy mess. They did not match at all, but it was pretty funny, and gave everyone around me plenty of laughs for the entire night. I was called pirate girl by a few people, and loved it.
I came up with the conclusion with how many compliments I received that I had to be by far the best looking person out that evening.
Maybe I should start drawing one on every day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part III





A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part III
The day must go on, and I need to experience more sports on this weekend trip. Soccer was done, my Peace Corps team had showcased an amazing victory, while the US team did not. Next sport, rugby. The event, the Pacific Nations Cup. The venue, Apia Park.
After watching the soccer game, we gathered our troupes at the Peace Corps office and walked over to Apia Park to have a rugby filled afternoon. Cassie, Tiffany and I were anxious as we trekked down the street to the stadium.
We opted for the cheaper seat so we could stretch out on the malae, and since we were there to view both games, we were able to sit in the front of it all.
During the first game, we saw Japan dominate against Tonga. It was a site to see.
So here was the breakdown of the teams:
Samoa, lost to Japan, but beat Tonga
Japan beat Tonga and Samoa, but lost to Fiji
Tonga lost to all three teams
Fiji beat Japan and Tonga.
It was our game.
It was our time to shine.
If we won by more than 13 points we would be the winners of the cup was the buzz I heard around the stadium. The crowd was quickly filling in and they were ready to see Samoa find its way to victory again in rugby.
We were off right away and scored two quick tries. The spectators were beaming with pride as they scream supportive statements to the players. Then Fiji decided to become a part of the game, and scored 9 points over three kicks.
We began to get nervous going into the second half. We were pretty confident that our team would hold off any other team, but would we win by the right amount? It would be horrible to crown another country the victors of the tournament in our home.
The main reason we were so nervous is we had no clue as to how much time was left on the clock. There was no clock anywhere in site. (Is this really a common occurrence in sports? Because I never saw it in the States.)
Time was ticking away. We did not know how much, obviously…but we knew we had to do something.
Someone on the team listened and they began to put themselves into gear.
Samoa ended up winning the match 31-9. Showing how it was obviously a fluke for Japan to win the previous week and we truly are the champions of rugby once more.
I am so proud of the country of Samoa. I really feel honored to be living here during this time. I cannot wait for next year to see Samoa dominate the World Cup of rugby in New Zealand next year.

A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part II


A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part II
I awoke early this morning ready to meet a few other Pisi Koa to watch the US win in the World Cup. We were all pumped from our own victory the previous day in soccer that we knew the US Soccer Team could be just as effective a team as us. We all had plants to meet at a bakery with a nice big television set to watch the game.
I walk over to the bakery, open the door and am stunned by the silence. There is no one there. I immediately call one of the people who is sure to be there, and I found out they had to go to another place. In Samoa, technology can be difficult. This can be something as difficult as sending text messages or sending credit to a phone, or something less difficult as turning on the television. They had the difficulties with turning it on.
Plan B, we go to this hotel that has a television set in the restaurant. I arrive there late, and huddled around a table are 2 other volunteers and our country director. We are all gazing at this tiny 13 inch television set hung up high on the wall. There is little sound, and the station that is airing the event neglected to put a clock on the screen, so we are clueless as to how much time remains in the game at all time.
We were losing when I arrived 1-0 to Ghana. After some time, the US received a penalty kick and we tied it up. The group of us were so excited that we began jumping for joy. We had some guests at the hotel give a little chuckle and join us in cheering on the US.
The game went into overtime. It was intense because we were having trouble seeing the screen, did not know how long the overtime would be, and could not see what was happening all the time. We finally were able to move our seats, and a waitress helped us by turning up the volume a little bit. Sadly Ghana scored their winning goal, and the US was not able to find a way to catch up.
The US ended their run in the world cup today, but Ghana still has the possibility of being the first African nation to win the tournament.

A loss for one nation is another nation's victory-part I




A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part I
I am sick. Unlucky me. Talofi. I decided to use my sickness to my advantage. I needed to see another doctor to update medicines, so I decided to coincide my trip with soccer, rugby, and more soccer.
On Friday morning I got myself together and headed to the main road to wait for the bus. There were plenty of other people also waiting there as they were heading to Salelologa for a singing rehearsal. We were waiting by the road, and I heard a bus. I got myself ready to get on it. But was told, “No. That is not the right bus. Do not get on it.” The bus passed me by. Another bus passed, and I received the same response. “Why would you take a bus that isn’t Asula?” I was asked. Asula is one of the bus drivers that lives in our village, and everyone loves him dearly and is loyal to only taking his bus whenever possible.
Finally Asula’s bus, The Beautiful Savaii arrived. I have been on my share of crowded busses, and seeing the shape of this bus I was not looking forward to being on it. I had to squeeze through a mass of people to fit in a place that was not the doorway. There was not even enough room for my feet, and I had to stand on my tip toes in order to fit. I looked to my left and there were five people sitting on the seat, and this was a common occurrence around the bus. How could they fit that many people in such a small space was a mystery to me.
After such a long ride, we ended up in Salelologa, and I waited for awhile, then headed to the ticket booth to buy a ticket for the ten o’clock boat. There is a set schedule for the boat, however it always seems to be off every time I want to head from island to island. So knowing what I know about Samoa, I should not have been surprised when there was no boat at that time, even though there was a ferry docked and waiting at that moment.
I had more waiting to do. I had left my house a little after seven in the morning, and knew it would be around two when I would get to Upolu. The only problem with this is that being sick, I had made an appointment with the PCMO. I had to call and ask her to make our appointment a little late, luckily she is an extremely nice lady and was willing to accommodate.
The noon boat was a little boat, and I found a nice place to sit on the floor, put my i’e over my head to block the sun, and took a nap. The waves were rough and it was sea sickening to watch our little boat rise and fall on the massive waves. The boat ride is usually less than an hour and a half, and we were not even close to Upolu at that point. I saw a few palagnis look as though they were about to turn green in the face, and I was instantly grateful that I had taken my motion sickness pills before the boat.
The boat ride was two hours and ten minutes long. I was about to miss my new appointment, so I had to call and change it again. I really am lucky the PCMO is nice. I ran off the boat, hoping to get on the first bus to leave for Apia, and as luck would have it, I picked the boat that stopped for everyone and everything. It stopped to help a broken down bus, talk to the leoleo (police) as well as many more stops.
I finally made it to the Peace Corps office about 8 hours after my travels began. I met with the PCMO and was immediately taken to the hospital to see a doctor. Sure enough, same problem as last week. I received a different prescription and was off on my way.
Back at the Peace Corps office, the volunteers were getting their cleats, soccer balls and other gear in order. We had a game to play and we were hoping for our first victory of the season. (I was hoping I would be a good luck charm.)
We arrived at the field and Erica, our expert at soccer, began coaching us on what to do for warm ups. After about 30 minutes, our opponents showed up. We were to play Origin gas. I was already intimidated when I saw their matching uniforms. There were several of us who were playing in our first game since junior high, and did not know what to expect from it. (Just hoping for no broken bones.)
It was game time.
Our players took the field. They looked ready for victory, especially since the overly competitive boys were there. Almost immediately we saw who our star player would be as Casey won our hearts with a quick goal, and a few minutes later impressed us with another.
Then, luck would have to take it’s turn, we get called for one of our players using hands. About ten minutes later, the same player got carded again for hands. He was done, and they had a penalty kick and it went in.
The second half we played defense well and maintained our 2-1 lead. When the game was over we screamed for joy as we had won our first game, and possibly only game of the season.
We were ready to go out and celebrate with….pizza!

A loos for one nation is another nation's victory-part I




A loss for one nation is another nation’s win Part I
I am sick. Unlucky me. Talofi. I decided to use my sickness to my advantage. I needed to see another doctor to update medicines, so I decided to coincide my trip with soccer, rugby, and more soccer.
On Friday morning I got myself together and headed to the main road to wait for the bus. There were plenty of other people also waiting there as they were heading to Salelologa for a singing rehearsal. We were waiting by the road, and I heard a bus. I got myself ready to get on it. But was told, “No. That is not the right bus. Do not get on it.” The bus passed me by. Another bus passed, and I received the same response. “Why would you take a bus that isn’t Asula?” I was asked. Asula is one of the bus drivers that lives in our village, and everyone loves him dearly and is loyal to only taking his bus whenever possible.
Finally Asula’s bus, The Beautiful Savaii arrived. I have been on my share of crowded busses, and seeing the shape of this bus I was not looking forward to being on it. I had to squeeze through a mass of people to fit in a place that was not the doorway. There was not even enough room for my feet, and I had to stand on my tip toes in order to fit. I looked to my left and there were five people sitting on the seat, and this was a common occurrence around the bus. How could they fit that many people in such a small space was a mystery to me.
After such a long ride, we ended up in Salelologa, and I waited for awhile, then headed to the ticket booth to buy a ticket for the ten o’clock boat. There is a set schedule for the boat, however it always seems to be off every time I want to head from island to island. So knowing what I know about Samoa, I should not have been surprised when there was no boat at that time, even though there was a ferry docked and waiting at that moment.
I had more waiting to do. I had left my house a little after seven in the morning, and knew it would be around two when I would get to Upolu. The only problem with this is that being sick, I had made an appointment with the PCMO. I had to call and ask her to make our appointment a little late, luckily she is an extremely nice lady and was willing to accommodate.
The noon boat was a little boat, and I found a nice place to sit on the floor, put my i’e over my head to block the sun, and took a nap. The waves were rough and it was sea sickening to watch our little boat rise and fall on the massive waves. The boat ride is usually less than an hour and a half, and we were not even close to Upolu at that point. I saw a few palagnis look as though they were about to turn green in the face, and I was instantly grateful that I had taken my motion sickness pills before the boat.
The boat ride was two hours and ten minutes long. I was about to miss my new appointment, so I had to call and change it again. I really am lucky the PCMO is nice. I ran off the boat, hoping to get on the first bus to leave for Apia, and as luck would have it, I picked the boat that stopped for everyone and everything. It stopped to help a broken down bus, talk to the leoleo (police) as well as many more stops.
I finally made it to the Peace Corps office about 8 hours after my travels began. I met with the PCMO and was immediately taken to the hospital to see a doctor. Sure enough, same problem as last week. I received a different prescription and was off on my way.
Back at the Peace Corps office, the volunteers were getting their cleats, soccer balls and other gear in order. We had a game to play and we were hoping for our first victory of the season. (I was hoping I would be a good luck charm.)
We arrived at the field and Erica, our expert at soccer, began coaching us on what to do for warm ups. After about 30 minutes, our opponents showed up. We were to play Origin gas. I was already intimidated when I saw their matching uniforms. There were several of us who were playing in our first game since junior high, and did not know what to expect from it. (Just hoping for no broken bones.)
It was game time.
Our players took the field. They looked ready for victory, especially since the overly competitive boys were there. Almost immediately we saw who our star player would be as Casey won our hearts with a quick goal, and a few minutes later impressed us with another.
Then, luck would have to take it’s turn, we get called for one of our players using hands. About ten minutes later, the same player got carded again for hands. He was done, and they had a penalty kick and it went in.
The second half we played defense well and maintained our 2-1 lead. When the game was over we screamed for joy as we had won our first game, and possibly only game of the season.
We were ready to go out and celebrate with….pizza!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why do you think it is freezing?

Cold Days
I received a text saying, “I would venture to say it’s cold today. I wish I had a long sleeve tasi.” It is true, the seasons are changing, and this week is definitely a lot cooler than any other week in Samoa. I have not adjusted to the weather enough to say it is cold, or to dig out of the zip loc bags (I noticed some clothes are eaten if they are not sealed up) the pants or the long sleeve shirts I posses. It has been cool enough where I am able to sleep without a fan, which I think is impressive of itself.
It has been raining daily and the breeze from it has been amazing. As long as you are not in a fale Samoa with tarps all around you, you begin to feel so free from the fresh air. The crispness of the air has been positive for me as I feel like I can be active in the afternoon. Usually my afternoons consist of lying around napping or reading, but without the sun beating down on me, I feel like I am not tied down to any particular place.
A few days ago, I got goose bumps for the first time in I don’t even remember. I was not even feeling cold, but seeing them across my arms, and my little blond hairs (bleached from the sun) sticking up brought a smile to my face.
They have us scheduled to go home when we are done with our service at winter time. I cannot imagine how it will being home to snow at that time. I love winters, but my body is beginning to adjust to the ridiculous heat of Samoa. At least with the adjustment, I am not completely miserable for the year and a half I will be living here.

Distractions

Distractions
I’ve been trying to train. Really I have. I want to be a runner, or at least a person who can run a little. I have about two months before the next race, and my team is counting on me.
Being sick doesn’t really help. I push myself a little, but I can’t do too much. At least I am getting better, still not at 100%, but at least I am breathing through the night.
The school I work at is comprised of three villages. I live in the center of the three villages. So everywhere I go there are plenty of people calling out to me to try and distract me and get me to hang out with them. I usually do well one way, avoiding them with only a quick, “malo”, but it is hard to pass people without striking up a conversation.
Today, I decided to switch up my normal route and run by the water. Do you know how miserable it is to run on sand? In the village I ran through, there is sand on the sides of the road and on the road. I think the only thing worse is riding bicycles through sand (and that is only because you completely lose control and fall off!). After running for awhile, I saw a temptation. Instead of huffing and puffing in the heat of Samoa with a jog, I could be in the shade of someone’s yard playing volleyball. I decided I wanted in.
I am horrible at volleyball. I am afraid of the ball. The boys who play this game in Samoa are too strong and hit the ball so hard that it hurts! I have been kicked out of some games because of this, but thankfully I was allowed to play. They made me official server.
Every time they passed the ball to me, they gave me a quick reminder, “over”. I think I did decently, at least at the serve…and I did manage to hit the ball one or two other times. The problems happened when someone tried to talk to me while I was serving….and the ball mysteriously decided to go beaming towards their head.
It was a really fun time playing, especially because the rain came, and it cooled me down. Playing on the grass/dirt though in the rain makes you dirty, or at least me dirty. My arms were beginning to turn the colors of my new Samoan friends as well as my face. I soon had plenty of people laughing at my pala pala, dirtiness.
One of the people from my village was playing with us, and walked me home as it was become dusk. I think I embarrassed him, because he first pointed to a water pipe, and told me I should clean up. However, the piped water was shut off and I did not want to go into the ocean and walk home through two villages soaking wet. At the end of the next village there was a bathing pool, and again I was suggested to go clean up. I did. The water felt so refreshing and cool. I am sure bathing pools have the most disgusting water ever as many people use them for their actual baths, but after a run in the sun, and a filthy volleyball game, it was exactly what I needed. I came home happy with the day’s distraction from running long distances.
Everyday there is a new distraction, a few days ago I was stopped to judge who was the best kicker from a bunch of boys in another village. Another day I was stopped to play soccer. Then there are the every five second distractions like mentioned before. People.
“Where are you going? Where have you been?” I must hear those two questions all the time. They can see me running the same route for weeks, and know that I am just trying to get exercise and still be asked every day the same questions. I am asked in English and Samoan. The village really wants to take care of me. Since I visit many villages frequently, they all want to take care of me and look out for my safety.
Sometimes I have kids yell, “Hi Lili” in an attempt to practice their English. It is always interesting to hear what they may yell as I run past. Usually it is, “I am fine.” But lately, I think I have been having an influence on at least a few of these children. “I’m great!” I’m excellent” “I’m amazing” have become more common. (Kids are never sad when they talk to me! They are always seki’a, which is why I am trying to introduce as many words in English to use for that word. It is great seeing the results.) The past two days, one girl gave me a long word. “Spectacular”. I felt so proud hearing it. When you hear things like that, it makes you stop to talk because you are beaming with pride.
Another distraction is food. Who can pass up something good. It is mango season and if I see someone with a mango, or picking mangos from a tree, my mouth starts to water.
Maybe the distractions will get old soon and I can go back to training, but if they don’t, at least I am enjoying the love from the people of Savai’i.

Namu means mosquito

Not Again!
They are doing it again. I have about 500 mosquito bites on my right leg. I don’t understand it.
I don’t sleep with my mosquito net anymore because they don’t bite me while I am sleeping, however, while I sit here reading in bed, I have a massive invasion.
These mosquitoes seem to find one place to bite where I don’t notice and then bite every little piece of skin possible. Until my skin turns completely red with bumps.
Bug spray takes too long to put on in my honest opinion, so I haven’t been wearing it regularly in months. I thought I was developing Samoan-like skin. A skin in which they rarely bite. I thought that my taro filled blood was not what the mosquitoes were looking for. Usually I am fine but it is just when the sneaky mosquitoes come by. The mosquitoes that I do not even notice, until it is a complete invasion.
Hopefully, next time I notice the next invasion, before I get attacked by one of those mosquitoes infested with dengue or some other disease.

My Age Is...

My age in Samoan year
I feel as though I am mature, an adult even. However today as I struggled for half an hour to eat, I began to question my age.
My brothers daughter is one years old. Like most Samoans she is fearless, since the adults allow her to take risks. I have found it normal for kids of that age to play with machetes, as they know at such a young age how to take care of themselves with what I would consider a dangerous object. I have no problem holding a knife, or even using a machete, in some circumstances, so my guess is I am above the one year age mark when it comes to certain things.
During one of our many power outages, Sharlene, the baby, picked up the candle and began playing with it. I tried to take it away from her as I know of it as trouble playing with fire (I have been on fire three too many times in my life) and was stopped. “No, let her be. If she gets hurt, she will learn how to take care of herself around fire.” Because of my past experiences, I don’t feel comfortable playing with fire in a way that she was. Maybe playing with fire at such a young age is what inspires the amazing cultural tradition of fire dancing. Some in some aspects, I feel as though I am the age of a baby.
The reason why I struggled with food is because I had all the right tools to eat, but didn’t know how to use them. I had a can of tuna, and a knife (there was also a machete in the front room which I tried using). Samoans don’t use what we consider a can opener to open their food, instead, they use knives. Earlier in the day, my eleven year old sister grabbed the can from me and started to open it.
But here I was alone in the house, hungry. I kept prodding the can with a knife, and all I was getting was little dents. I figured it must be the knife, so I went to the front room to grab the machete. The knife was big and heavy. I could not find a way to stab the can open without cutting myself. I headed back into the kitchen to try the original knife. My charades of heading back and forth continued for about half an hour, causing the can to have dozens of little dents on the top lid, however, no opening.
I really wanted to eat, and thankfully church had let out so my neighbors would be home. I ran into my room, grabbed my i’e, and headed outside. As soon as I started to walk across the lawn, my family showed up and saved me.
The fact that opening a little can of food, such a basic life skill for Samoans is so difficult for me, I must be a young child.
I may have trouble doing the basic Samoan things for life, but I am learning, slowly. There are many things I can do now, that I never thought possible when I arrived in October.

What's My Age Again?

Reverting
I used to be an adult, able to sleep through the night without a problem.
I don’t know if it is the 11 pills of medicine that my doctor has me taking a day, or what, but I have reverting to infant form. I can only sleep for about two hours at a time. This means I am never fully rested, and never fully awake. A great way to go about life.
A few days ago, I was asked by someone in my village why I haven’t been doing more in my village to help out. I feel like I gave a weird mixture of puppy dog/bugged out eyes back. They heard my voice, I am sick. I have been sick since I got back to my village from vacation and training. The month before training, I was also sick. (Sadly for the entire month.)
I do feel like I am helping out in my village a lot, and I think they just want me to be a superhero with inexhaustible energy. Teaching is a full time job. I am teaching six different classes a day, and in a given week I visit most grades every day. I have done this with limited absences, including my numerous days I have been ill. While teaching, I have stayed on top of our grant for our new school building (They are actually coming in a week and a half to assess the damages we have to the building.), help children with homework, and start a runners club of children from my school that wish to run with me in the evenings.
Another problem I have with starting projects in my village is the limited internet access. I do feel internet is a valuable resource to see what projects would work and how to implement them properly. I used to have internet at home. It is expensive when you use it a lot, but it is an easy way to catch up on little things like e-mail. Ever since I arrived at my village, my internet has been broken. The closest internet “cafĂ©” (a women’s committee house with a computer and a telephone line) is broken, which leaves me with going into the city every time I want to use the internet. I teach five days a week. On the weekends I go to church. Both are important village obligations, and I do not feel right skipping one right away to work on the potential for something else.
In a few days my medications will be done with. Hopefully then, I will find the energy to do more. Until then, I will still crawl through my daily routine with my exhausted eyes.

Action

Taking action
We have had two people die in my village in the past six months from being run over. Within a three village drive, two more have been hit, causing one more death.
It is a sad fact that people speed and do not look at the road while driving. My village has noticed that.
Last night I helped my dad by typing a letter to the Samoan Government requesting a hump on the road. They are hoping that if there is more of a cause to slow down it will stop the road hazard.
Kudos to the matai counsel of my village and the mayor. I hope it works. I am glad they are taking action.

Duck Duck Goose


Duck Duck Goose
I’ve created a monster. Seriously.
They are addicted to this game.
Last week I had a few minutes to share with my year 2 class (1stt grade in America) after singing many songs and doing basic vocabulary with them. What to do? I thought to myself. Then something popped into my head. We had just sang a song about ducks, how about…
Duck Duck Goose.
The classroom for this class has no furniture apart from the teacher’s desk. They sit on the floor all day long to do their work. It was the perfect venue for this game as there was plenty of room. The kids quickly caught on, and we did get to practice two difficult words for them. (Duck and Goose, the g makes a completely different sound in this language, and the d is nonexistent, making these words difficult.)
The kids absolutely loved it. When they bell rang for recess and lunch, they did not want to leave. They wanted to stay in and play the whole time, but honestly, who could blame them?
Of I do not have much work to do at recess, or guests visiting which makes us glued to the office, I hang out with the kids at recess. We practice both Samoan and English as we just have a fun time. The past few days, I kept finding kids playing duck duck goose.
They game they have turned it into is a complete runners workout. The person touching heads leads the “goose” on a wild goose hunt around the field daring the kid to catch him or her. I played a few times with the new intensity, and was tagged out a few times.
You can think it is embarrassing being tagged out by an eight year old, but I have excuses on why I did not perform up to my potential. The main reason was I was dressed in my formal school clothes. Imagine running in a tight fitted skirt to your ankles. It makes it difficult. I have other good excuses, but I do not think they are necessary.
It is now the weekend, and I know I have to look forward to more duck duck goose come Monday. Maybe, I should start bringing my running shoes!

How do I Get Mail?

Mail Call
Elisa is my nearest neighbor. We are about 5 villages away from each other. It is about 20 minutes by bike, or about fifteen minutes by bus. We see each other often because of this as visiting is a good excuse to get some exercise. However recently we have both been so caught up in village life that the trip has felt near impossible.
We have had to pass things back and forth to each other, and so we have started using the village ways to pass items back and forth. The bus.
I love the bus. It is so colorful and dull of such interesting things. Busses are always stopping to pick up packages from one village and transporting them to another village. The packages have always sparked an interest. I always wonder what is so important to bring back and forth.
I am now part of that club. Two times now the bus has stopped for me to gibe little bags to be delivered to Elisa, and once I have received something as well.
I feel more Samoan doing this. I am now part of their social scheme. I understand that I do not need to jump on a bus and travel to different distances to deliver different items.
The bus drivers and the men in charge of packages are always so amazing about it, like they see you on the side of the road, and know exactly what you need.
The bus. It is so practical.

Darian Books-A Big Thank You

Thank you Darian Books
I love Darian Books. Thank you so much for your donation of books. They are perfect and helping so much with my literacy effort in the Samoan classrooms.
In just two weeks time of having them I am seeing such a big effect. I have begun introducing them to classrooms as a read aloud, as the read aloud we normally do in American schools is foreign to the classrooms here. The children are responding so well to the questions I pose, and many of the questions are things they were not able to answer last term.
It is also giving me different texts to use for reading, in which the words are so fresh.
The children are so amazed with your generosity, thank you again.

Addiction


Addictions
There are a few things here that I think are drugs. The addictions are so bad, that I can’t help myself.
The first one is salt. I hate salt. Seriously, I don’t like the taste of it, and I know how bad it is for you. However when I have a little taste of it, I need more. I crave it, even though at that moment my mouth is hurting from tasting the saltiness.
The second is dental floss. When there is nothing to do, flossing is so much fun. A few of us volunteers have gotten together to have flossing parties where we take extra good care of our teeth throughout the night and floss an unhealthy amount. We have even started using “flossing” as a adjective, meaning seki’a or great.
I am not sure what other “drugs” I will find addictions to while I am here.

Phone Woes

An Expensive Day
The day was an ordinary day. I went to school, went home, and throughout the day texted with my peace Corps family member about the silly things that took place, my successes in school, and other random facts.
Our cell phone company has great deals, and one of them is “Free Text”. If we send 3 texts, we are given 30 free. It is an amazing deal as it makes me have the ability to stay connected to my friends here.
However this day there was a glitch. There was no free texting. I went through the money on my phone so quickly, that I didn’t even know what was happening. Every time I sent a tent out 20 sene was deducted from my phone.
I did not even realize this until night time, when all the money from my phone was gone.
Lesson learned: Check the balance of your phone periodically.

Familiar Face


A familiar face
I’ve been putting it off. I wanted to get through the first full week of school without missing a moment of it. But by day 3 of the first week I had no voice, and going into the second week, it got worse. I was in pain, and every time I took a breath I felt miserable. I realized I had to stop putting it off when for two nights in a row I woke up choking. My throat was so swollen and my nose was so stuffed that I was having trouble breathing. I had to face the facts. I needed to see a doctor. (I probably wouldn’t go to one in America, because there is so much over the counter medicine available there, but here I do not even know where to find it.)
I waited until Thursday of the second week of school. It’s been raining on and off all day, and I was not looking forward to walking two villages over to the hospital in the rain. Thankfully, my host father was heading to a rehearsal, and was able to give me a ride there.
I’m at the hospital. I go to the line to check in. I am greeted by several people who already know me by name. It is so refreshing that when you are feeling ill in a foreign country to have people around you that truly care about your well being. A few women keep asking, “Mai ‘oe?” (Are you sick), and I keep responding, “Tina i le ua” (My throat hurts.)
I finally get to the front of the line, and no one is in the reception area. A few people keep coming in the area, asking what’s wrong, and then telling me that someone will come in shortly to check me in. After about ten minutes of standing there, someone finally came. I am now officially on file at my district hospital. (As well as the main hospital on this island, possibly the hospital in Apia, and one doctors office on both islands….wow I really need to stop getting sick!)
Surprisingly, a doctor was there at the office and quickly I was seen. I was surprised because when I first moved to Savai’i there was such a doctor shortage that they could not have one doctor leave the main hospital to travel to the different district hospitals. I told my symptoms, and within moments a tongue depressor was placed in my mouth. “Your tonsils are really inflamed,” I was told. I was given my prescription and went to the next room to have it filled.
The man who puts the pills in the little zip loc bags is so precise with his work. He is extremely careful to never touch anything with his gloved hand as he uses a little stick to count the numerous pills. I then paid a woman my fee, 8 tala fifty sene (equivalent to about $3.50 US)and left the office. I was surprised that I was not charged for the doctor, and only had to pay for my medications. Maybe that is how the local residents are treated.
When I got out of the room, instantly I was greeted by the same smiling faces. They told me to have a seat next to them. I should be used to this by now. Nothing can be a quick trip anywhere. You need to make sure you have plenty of time to do whatever little errand you are set forth for as there are too many people in the community that would love to have a quick chat with you.
I was questioned about my health, then about my pe’u (boyfriend) situation. I explained that I was dating the Manu Samoa 7’s (the ones that just won the World Series). They asked which ones and I responded “ All of them”. They laughed as they asked me their names. I love watching them play, but I honestly don’t know their names, so I told them, “Pe’u muamua, tama lona lua, tama lona tolu”, which means boyfriend number one, boy number two, third boy. It made them all laugh.
The rain began to slow down, and I was told I need to wait for it to stop. So I kept chatting with one of the parents of one of my students. She was explaining to me about her son going over to Germany for the US Army. We talked about America, and each of our families. The women that I had just met were impressed with my Samoan, which made me proud.
It makes me giggle thinking about a hospital being a social hall, but it really is. The hall was filled with women ready to strike up a conversation. It appeared like they had been there all day and were not ready to leave. I have been with my family to the hospital several times to pick up medicine, and there is always a crowd of women ready to strike up a conversation.
Finally the rain stopped, and after a full day of school, and countless conversations at the hospital I was ready to malolo (rest), I excused myself and walked home.
Part of the reason why Samoa is such a beautiful place is the people. I love how friendly everyone always is. It makes you feel like you are at home, even though I don’t think I could be farther than my family right now. My family here is so large. It is not just the people I live with, or the village I stay in, but the villages that surround me as well. I have so many people always looking out for me, I must be the luckiest person in the world with all the caring people in my life.

Phones


Magical Phone
I lost my phone. I was shopping in Apia and dropped it in the store when I went to pick something up. No one turned it in, or answered the phone when I called it. I had to suck it up and buy a new phone.
I bought the cheapest one.
I hated it at first. It was a lot more money than my last phone. It had more buttons and I was confused at how people did little things like texting on it.
A few weeks in, I have come to appreciate the features of better phones. I no longer have to input the time each time the battery is taken out (or in my old phone’s case, every few hours when I dropped it). There is also a flashlight on it, which comes in handy, even when you are in a place with electricity. There are also games on the phone, which is something I have never had before. I now have something to do when I forget my book and am waiting patiently for the bus or ferry.
I have also learned recently that my phone has magical powers. I usually keep the sound on silent, which used to cause trouble since I have an act for misplacing my phones. Whenever I am outside the room, or cannot find my phone, my phone goes into “Magic Mode” on its own. In “Magic Mode”, the volume suddenly turns on. I can hear from other rooms that I am being popular. When my phone is missing, I can suddenly find it.
I love that my phone is magical. It makes misplacing it all the time a lot easier.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Power Outage....Water Outage


Outage
The water is out, the power is out. It seems like it is happening more and more lately. It feels like they have been coming in pairs lately. They do shut off the piped water during some point of every day, and I have been fortunate enough that it has only lasted several hours at a time. In a week the electricity has gone out twice.
My parents sent me a wind up flashlight, but being technology retarded (flashlights are still called technology right?) My flashlight doesn’t work as it is supposed to and will only turn on when you are currently cranking it.
It is funny how all of my Peace Corps siblings are like me, just accepting these factors as life. Today I got a text message from someone at 6:30. It said the power was out in her village, and since it was raining a lot she did not want to go to the store for candles, so she would be getting plenty of sleep tonight.
A few days ago, I go into the bathroom to take a shower for church, and the water was out. I did not worry as I usually use the bucket of water and a bowl to bathe anyway. However, I looked inside the bucket, and there was something growing in it. Showering could wait.
I feel like I would be an expert at camping in the wilderness after living in my village. I can go without water and electricity for plenty of time.
I do love it when I do have water and power, but acceptance is key. The water will not always be flowing, and the power will randomly be off. Life will still go on as I know it, and a week later I will forget the hardships of that one night (or 3…)

Autumn


Autumn
Someone game us a Cosmopolitan magazine. It was the May issue and said Autumn. I hadn’t really realized that since I was living in the Southern Hemisphere that my seasons are reversed. They say there are two seasons here, the dry season and the wet season. However, I don’t really see a different in the two seasons. It can rain a lot during either season, or have weeks of dry hot heat in both as well. I think they should change the name to Cyclone season and non-cyclone season. It would make more sense to the confused visitor.
A few weeks ago in Apia, Rachel and I were walking down the street near Aggie Grays. All of a sudden, Rachel stopped. ‘It’s autumn. There are a million leaves on the ground.” It was such an amazing site to see. The leaves were of all different colors and I had the sudden urge to rake them up and jump in the piles.
Leaves do change colors here. Only it is usually one leaf at a time. To see so many different leaves on the ground is something abnormal to Samoa. The leaves that I see fall from the trees are usually from the breadfruit tree. Having them fall does not remind me in any way of a crisp fall day. For starters, these leaves are enormous! They are bigger than my body. Secondly, you take notice when they fall. They are heavy enough to make a thump! Also, how can it be a nice cool fall day, when the temperature doesn’t stray too far between hot and extremely hot.
I don’t know if it was a just a rare unusual occurrence but it was nice to see another season for a few minutes.
(Just to side note, winter is approaching, and I love hearing the snow updates in New Zealand. I get chills hearing the temperatures that are hovering near freezing.)

Internet


Internet
Being in Apia, I became used to internet. I bought an internet card and had internet on demand (as long as I didn’t go over the hours I paid for). I became used to checking my e-mail regularly and the high speed access that allowed me to put up blogs with ease, and include pictures.
Then I came home.
I had a little attachment for a SIM card to use dial up internet (by paying for the megabyte) in my village. It worked well. It was slow, and if I really monitored how little I was on the internet (basically only checking e-mail and updating my blog) the cost wasn’t too bad. But while I was away, I don’t know if my thing began to miss me, but the SIM card no longer works.
I am out of money on it. I cannot send money to it, so therefore I cannot use it.
No internet.
There has been so much going on in my village, and I really want to share it, but it must wait.
I keep planning on calling the company to see if I can get this problem resolved, but I feel like I have become Samoan in my ways in just putting it off as much as possible.
It has been a week since I learned of it not working. Maybe I’ll call tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll keep with the same philosophy of thinking about calling.
Internet is a necessity of life it seems in America. So much goes on there, and it seems like you need to be in the loop all time. Although I never really participated in the whole paying for internet in your home, I did enjoy my neighbors internet as well as going to the different restaurants to check my email on my IPod.
I honestly don’t know what I used to do on the internet anymore. I don’t know how people can spend hours online without getting bored. What websites do people go to? I know four right now: Facebook, Blogger, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
What else is there to do online? I know there are websites I probably should go to so I can check up on the news. But when I am checking on it so infrequently, I get so confused by the stories as I don’t usually hear the beginning of them. I am out of the loop.
I do know some of the bigger news stories happening in America. It is funny because I sometimes hear them sooner than my family in America does. Thank you TV1 News in New Zealand. Several times a week I get updates on little things in America. (We tied England in the first game of the World Cup, the Celtics and ahead in the NBA Finals (Yeah! Lakers are going down!), there is flash flooding, and of course the oil spill.)
It is going to be hard to catch up to the speed of the American life in a year and a half, as it already feels overwhelming and I am not even there yet. Until then, maybe I’ll have internet some days, some days I won’t. There is nothing wrong living in a slower pace of life for the time being.

A Happy Day at Church




Church
I have never been a religious person. Before coming to Samoa, I have been to church or synagogue probably a few dozen times in my life. I never really saw the need to go.
I don’t know if I am a changed person or what, but I love going now.
It is not for the religious aspect, but the sense of community is amazing. It is a place to catch up on village life and gossip. It is a place to see your friends and family members. A person really gets the sense of belongingness to their community by attending church. It is also a great venue for language practice for me. I go there prepared, ready to learn something new. It usually isn’t the lessons they teach, but I do feel as though I am growing as an individual.
I wasn’t this way in the beginning. When I first arrived in Samoa, I dreaded the three hour services as I felt the dragged on too long. I thought that if I pretended to be sick and just laid in bed, it would be a better time to spend my Sunday.
I have learned that three hours isn’t that long in the scheme of life. And honestly, what else would I be doing on a Saturday or Sunday. Sundays are dead days in the village. You can’t really do much as there are village rules that ban you from doing much aside from eating, sleeping, and going to church. Living with a Seventh Day Adventist family, it is the same on Saturday.
So twice on Saturdays, and once on Sunday (I am trying to coax myself into going to a second service on Sundays, but haven’t found the will to go yet.) you will find me at the different church services. Afterwards, I feel like I have the biggest family in the world. Besides my family in America caring about me in every way, everyone in the village shares the same love for me. (Not to sound…what’s the word. Not conceded…but well you get the idea.) I have families coming up to me asking if I will join them in their home for their feast after church.
I love going to to’ogani (the feast after church) with different families. It is so nice to eat like it’s Thanksgiving (without the turkey) every week and then spend the afternoon with a family relaxing, chit chatting, and sometimes helping with little things, especially English homework.
I really missed being at church while I was on vacation for the few weeks and I feel like the people in my village really missed me too. During church service on both Saturday and Sunday, I was welcomed back by all the members of the church, and they even made a special announcement to welcome me back. It is so heartwarming to be a part of this.
I really honestly can’t be certain if people in America feel the same way about going to church, synagogue, or any other place of worship, but it is definitely a reason to go to feel that warm sense of extended family loving you and looking out for your every needs.

Hypochondriac


Hypochondriac
Since moving to Samoa, I have developed into a hypochondriac, which allows me to be on a best friend basis with our Medical Officer.
It is 2:00 in the morning, and after searching through our medical manually from front to back, and finding no real answers to my symptoms, that I decided need to be examined right now, I decided to call my sister for help diagnosing. She suggested many different things to help with my persistent sore throat, coughing and other random little symptoms.
“Gargle vinegar,” she said. “I like the apple flavored because it doesn’t taste as bad.”
“I have never seen vinegar in Samoa. They probably have it in Apia. But that is too far away.”
“What about honey? That soothes your throat.”
“They do sell honey in Salelologa! I could do that. Make a trip there in a few days.”
She then started talking to one of her colleagues at work. Her friend was wondering what they do sell in my village. “Mutton, chicken, ice cakes. Ice cakes are like frozen Kool Aid. Stores in my village aren’t open too often so we usually have to go to a neighboring village. There are some days where my family drives to several villages in both directions to find things to make for dinner.”
I then accidently hit the wrong button and hung up with my sister. Being two in the morning, I doubt any stores would be open to put more money on my phone, so there will be no call back. Sorry Jen!
Talking to her was good. We talked about how I don’t need my tonsils removed. The fact that mold is growing all over my clothes. How my hand still hurts from the bike accident, and my but still hurts from falling on a rock while hiking. The possibility of being allergic to something in my village.
She reminded me that I am too young to feel sick, as her friend in the background kept chirping in, “The solution is come home.”
I responded with a quick, “Never. I’m running away to the Pacific forever!” They didn’t believe me and told me I need to come home sometime.
Even though I am a hypochondriac, I am still enjoying the Samoan experience.

Animal Talk




Animals
I really began missing Albert and Sativa tonight. Our cat (I really don’t think she has a name) came into the house purring with a decent sized mouse in her mouth. It reminded me of home. So many days I would be lounged about in my living room in Colorado, when either Albert or Sativa would bring me a present they found outside. Usually I got garden snakes. I think I averaged a few dozen snakes going through my house a year. I did get many other things coming through my house such as mice (they were never caught inside the house, only caught outside and brought in), birds, insects of all shapes and sizes, butterflies, and once even a squirrels tail.
I always got upset with them for the birds, and would punish them for some of their creatures. (Time out in the bathroom-they hated that punishment!)
The mouse was brought right to my feet, and for a cat that shows as minimum an amount of affection as possible, I felt real special. The cat still refuses to be pet, however will sit next to me for almost every meal I eat. (I always share the fattiest pieces of my chicken along with the skin. I learned cats eat bread, eggs and many other things as well.)
In other news, another cow had a calf. It is really cute, black and white. When she was born she had some type of infection and worms got to her. The calf is now bald in many spots. When I met the calf last week, she was wet and shivering and so scared. I felt horrible for her. She is going to leave us soon and live with some other relatives.
One of our dogs passed away while I was gone. My sister said that someone fed the dog poison. (A common occurrence from how it sounds.)
One of our other dogs, Champ, remains one of my best friends. He still acts like a shadow, following all over the place. I love looking down under my bench at church and seeing him there. (I just always hope that no one else notices him, so he doesn’t get smacked with a shoe until he leaves.)
Pigs are still running ramped throughout the village, and the chickens still crow all the time. Bats are seen not just flying at night, but always in and out of the trees. Horses still outnumber cars in the village.

Who is the sidekick really?





I am Batman….or am I Robin?
Rachel is my partner in crime. Seriously, we are together too much, especially when we are in Apia. We roomed together during training, hung out together, and even cooked our meals together. We are together so much that people question us when they see us apart. We are partners in crime. One of us is the superhero, and the other is the sidekick. I’d like to pretend I’m the Batman of our friendship, just because I secretly want a super cool car to drive. (I would love it if my bus was tricked out like the Batmobile. It would be so intense! By the way did you hear about the fire at the circus…it was in tents! Ha ha!)
I never realized that we were together that much until I started reading another Peace Corps volunteer blog. Every time he mentioned one of us, he mentioned the both of us. It was as if we are a packaged deal.
I would just like to clarify that we really aren’t together all the time. Even though we both reside on the same island, weeks do go by when we do not see each other at all. When we are in our village we are committed to life there, and as awesome as it is to have a sidekick to hang out with, we know that village life runs supreme.
While we were in training in Apia, Rachel and I met the Manu Rugby team and immediately befriended all of them that we met. We hung out with them several times, making us feel as though we really knew the boys. When it was time for us to head back to our villages, we were upset knowing that we would not be able to return to see our favorite rugby players take on Tonga in the Pacific Rugby Tournament the following weekend.
Rachel and I looked around our village for televisions to make sure that we could watch the game and cheer on Manu Samoa….we found the televisions….and the clock kept ticking by. We weren’t sure when the game was to start, but all the times that people told us had gone and passed. There was no game. Had we gotten the time wrong? In my village the radio signal is very weak and the two radios I possess do not have the signal strength to pick up any reception.
Since it was a Saturday, I gave up and went with my family to church. After church, I realized the game had to be done. There was no way that they would open the tournament on a Saturday night. I began texting like crazy. I had to know how they did.
I had rugby fever. After Manu Samoa 7’s won the World Series (I think that is what they called it), I have become obsessed with rugby. It is the most impressing game ever. I just wish I understood the rules….
Finally a text back. Blakey had gone to the game. She reported the good news…
Samoa had beaten Tonga 24 – 23.
I knew I could count on Blakey to know about it because Blakey has had the fever reigning in her veins since I first met her.
Over six hours after the game, they are finally televising it. Even though I know the outcome, it is still nice to see the friendly faces that me and Rachel met in Apia over the past few weeks. I hope I am able to sneak over to watch a game during some part of the tournament.

Changing...

Things are changing...
School has been in session one week, and I thought that I might have a feel for how the rest of the term might go from this, but I am at a loss. This term will be different from last term, and I can only hope it will be for the best.
On Friday I was preparing for lessons for the following week, and was told that my schedule was to change. I know it should not change really how I am to teach, but I think it will. I switched my schedule to be at the different grade levels at the same time each day. It took away my little break I had during the day, but hopefully it will be worth it as I will be going to years 4-8 more consistently.
I used to start my mornings with my years 7s (American schools grade 6) and now it will be with the year 5s. I don’t think I would have been this nervous if I was told earlier about the switch and had time to plan with each of the teachers. But I am going to come into the day on Monday at a loss. What exactly do they want me to teach. I hope that it is not the entire lesson, especially when I haven’t seen their plans until right before.
I guess there really is not much to worry about, since Monday will happen if I worry or don’t. If I need to make up lessons on the spot, I hope I am prepared for it. No matter what I am still better off than last term as I have improved my Samoan language skills and have a better understanding of Samoan classrooms.
By week three I am sure I will have my head on straight and be completely prepared.

Training



Training
I decided that I needed someone to push me to train, especially if it is going to have to be in the afternoon or evening, a time when I fear combating with the sun. I decided that my little sister would be perfect for the job. She is athletic, when she wants to be, and being an eleven year old she does not have too many other obligations.
We started training on Thursday. We left around five thirty, so it would not be completely hot. We didn’t do too bad running two villages away. She had trouble keeping up, which resulted in her walking and me running back to catch her up to me. My favorite quote from her was, “For a fat person, you are pretty fast.” It is really funny how no matter what your body type is here, you are considered fat. Part of the reason is that it is an insult to call someone skinny.
Being a pre-teen my sister was quickly distracted by the boys in the neighboring villages. I learned quickly that if I want to be serious with my training, I might have to find a new training partner, or train on my own. We had to walk home because of this factor. We did make one side trip to hang out with some of the girls in her class. The girls are so cute, and like normal they went to my hair to check for bugs.
The second day we were fighting with the clock, as we had to be back home for the start of the Sabbath. So we made the mistake of going out at 3:30. I would suggest to anyone in Samoa, or thinking about coming to Samoa to not spend much time outside at 3:30. It is still way too hot a time of day to be outside. Within seconds my shirt was dripping from sweat. This of course didn’t help my little sister’s training mentality, so we spent the time with a good balance of running and walking. Of course the heat did not stop her from being distracted by the boys. (Should we play games with the boys, or can we stop and talk to them?)
Next week, I am going out for a real run several days during the week. This may mean that I may have to go out twice a day, once by myself, and once on the distracted fun with my sister. No matter what happens it is still better than no training (which is similar to my approach to the 10k!).

All Bugged Out



It’s a buggy world
Ants are everywhere. You think you get rid of them and about a million more just show up out of the blue. Most of the ants aren’t that bad. I get used to living with them. I find them everywhere, and I am still convinced I somehow still have an anthill hidden somewhere on my body.
I don’t mind most ants, at least the ants I normally see here in Samoa, however last week in American Samoa I came across some nasty ants. While I was hiking I made the Samoan mistake of wearing sandals instead of hiking with actual shoes. While hiking I suddenly felt my feet burn. Ants were biting my feet and it was hurting. “Ouch!” They got the other foot. The ants kept biting and my feet began hurting with the most pain I have ever felt.
I am happy I haven’t come across those ants in Western Samoa yet. There are other things that bite, and it is funny to hear us volunteers complain about them. Especially the giant centipedes. The way that some of my Peace Corps siblings talk you would think that the centipedes were really some gigantic monster ready to take over the world. I always have a chuckle when others text me about their fears of these creatures entering their mosquito nets at night. (How do they really have those super powers?)
Last night I did not realize what happened until I emerged from my room after dinner. My legs looked as those they were a roller coaster of little red bumps. I must had had at least fifty mosquito bites on just a small portion of my legs. It looked ridiculous.
I still always have a fear of finding a cockroach in my shoes. Which is why I wear sandals more often than actual shoes. You never know where a cockroach will show up.
Termites also cause big problems in many houses. All of a sudden a pile of wood will appear in someone’s room, and we just hope the termites don’t begin to eat some important structure holding the building up. I don’t have as big a problem as others, in which you hear them buzzing about at night. They are also causing a problem in our little Salelologa office, in which our amazing sanity is held. (Which is called our book collection.) The termites there really get on my nerves as they eat the different books. I will find a book that I am thrilled to read, and open it up excitedly, and notice that the termites have eaten a quarter of the book. (What a way to ruin your day.)
Some Volunteers try to combat these problems by infesting their rooms with Mortein, a horrible smelling bug killer. These volunteers seem to go those cans of Mortein like it is no one else’s business. It doesn’t even seem like the bus spray works. They come back quicker than ever when the spray is used.
I love hearing Cassy’s stories about her bugs. They seem to appear in the strangest of places. She also notices that her family combats the bugs in a different way. Chickens. Chickens eat cockroaches. So, if the chickens are running loose already, why not let them run around the house and eat the bugs. As long as it is not a rooster crowing at all hours of the night, I think it is a good way to combat the problem.
Bugs are a big part of life living in Samoa. You can fear them, or laugh at their ridiculousness.

Again? Really? Why?



It was my second day of school. I was ready for my life to begin again. I was ready for school to get back to the high where it ended. Yesterday was fabulous with teachers and students working hard, and I was on a high from it. I was ready, but I I guess no one else was.
One teacher is on maternity leave, another had meetings, and two left during the day to go to the city. There are nine teachers besides myself in school, and it is sad to say that this can happen on any normal teaching day.
School started later today that yesterday, and lunch was longer than normal as well which all cut into teaching time for me. I still had fun with the children teaching new songs and dances. The day also ended early.
Since it ended early, I decided to go to the store to buy a phone card to call home. I walked with the school bus chain of children to the next village over since the stores in my village were closed. It was good spending the time with the kids.
While I was at the store it began to rain. It started raining harder. Luckily I saw my brother driving by and was able to catch a ride.
He told me he tried going to the hospital for medicine but it was crazy there. Apparently there had been another accident.
Another accident.
A second child had been hit by a car.
Just two villages away from me.
Iosefa said it didn’t look good.
On the way home he yelled at some kids to move to the side of the road.
I don’t think I live on a dangerous side of the island. There are a few hills, but I don’t even consider it bad roads here. I don’t see how this keep happening.
I hope this child is okay and makes it.
It is such a scary time here and I don’t want anything else to happen.

Back to School







Back to School
I felt like I had the best first day back to school. My expectations were probably too low on the day, but I was able to march through the day easier than I had during most days last term. I did not have the chance to plan with my collogues, so they allowed me to come into the classroom and teach their children new songs and dances.
In one day I was able to visit 7 out of the 8 grades and I was really proud of this fact. I was able to spend a full half hour with both years 1 and 2 (the teachers were both absent) at the same time, without blowing my mind. (Sixty little ones who speak little English is a task that used to be hard for me to imagine being in a room by myself.)
Even during internal time, I really enjoyed my time that I spent with the kids. Over vacation I had spoken very minimal Samoan, so I was scared that my language ability would diminish. In fact, I feel the opposite has happened. I am able to understand far more than I thought was possible.
As another plus, my students were doing amazing in their English speaking abilities.
My hopes are high for the start of this school year.

Ode to Swedish Fish

Swedish Fish
Oh Swedish Fish. I love you more than you can imagine. You are so delicious to eat and such a surprise when people send you in the mail that I must gobble you all up right away. (Unless there are others that see the delicious bag, causing me to share.)
My stomach is not used to the deliciousness and the sugar that you are full of. Causing too much in the way of stomachaches.
Swedish Fish, you are not helping me in my quest to be a runner as having a stomachache does not help my ability to wake up to run.
Probably tomorrow my giant bag of Swedish Fish will be gone, and I will have an ache in my stomach from missing eating the delicious fish.

Returning to a Tradegy



Returning to the village.
I left for the pasi o va’a at seven in the morning, ready to catch the ten o’clock boat. Being a Tuesday I was hoping there would be a ten o’clock boat. The schedule for the ferry used to be different on Tuesdays, but ever since the new boat was introduced, the schedule changes more frequently than expected. Often a boat will just not show, which makes the waiting game not as much fun. I never seem to be on the loop of when boats decide not to show up (which causes the busses also not to show).
When I got to the wharf I was excited. The new boat was waiting for us. The new boat has been running for the past few months, and I haven’t been fortunate enough to ever get it. I have heard stories of the amazing air conditioning on board, the free tea and coffee and the movies. To make it even better, I have heard that there is plenty of seating so everyone I have talked to never gets stuck sitting on the floor. I have had dreams of going on board this ship. Finally ,I thought, my dreams were about to come true. (Is it bad for my dreams to be full of ferry rides? Maybe I should start getting my dreams a little higher..)
Sure enough, those dreams were tampered. Right before ten, the little boat showed up. The tiny one that made me so sick from the rocking ocean inside the tiny cabin. The only seats available were sitting on the floor and the ride ended with me sicker than can be. I was not about to sit inside that cabin again.
I solved that problem by sitting on the car deck next to the cars. The ride started with a smell of diesel in the air. It began to make me nauseous as I thought back to my recent trip of the bus with both the driver and many passenger smoking. After a few minutes that felt like forever, the smell finally ended. I began to feel better and took a nap on the wooden boards of the deck.
I took my time getting off the boat since for the first time I was not rushing for the bus, which leaves as soon as the boat docks. I had to make a quick trip to the post office to pick up a package in Salelologa. The post office is only open week days, which is during school hours. So it is impossible for us to go to it, unless school gets out early enough for the bus.
Like most places in Samoa, the Post Office enjoys a nice long lunch break, so when I arrived during the lunch break I was a little upset. I wasn’t going to let it bother me though. I found some couches by a hotel and took a nap. I awoke to my friend telling me people were talking about us. The fact is, it didn’t bother me. Samoans will find any place to sleep, and the fact is in the past few hours I have slept out on the boat, and in a hotel lobby and I felt it was completely natural.
After my nap, I headed back to our little PC office in Salelologa, ready for nap number three. However, the office was crawling with volunteers from another group, waiting for a bus, (We all didn’t realize that since the next ferry was not to show up, there would be no bus.) and finally giving up to wait for a cab. I was still exhausted, and since there were no benches to even sit on. (The office really is tiny.) I decided to head over to my favorite store for relaxation.
The Digicel store has some of the best workers in Samoa. They are really friendly, let us play DJ to their music, and often let us use the internet there. When you add to the fact that they also have air conditioning, it makes it the best place to hang out in Saleloga.
I finally had my piece of mind when I saw the 2 o’clock ferry roll in (It was after three), which meant I can finally roll into my village. I was looking forward to seeing the friendly faces of those on the Salega bus, and was happy when I finally did.
Close to five, I finally arrived at my village. It had been about ten hours of travelling (which includes waiting and napping) but I was still exhausted. I was too happy to be home that I didn’t notice the police cars on the street as I headed home, and my sister had to give me a heads up as soon as I came home.
There had just been a tragedy.
Another one.
Another car had ran over a person.
Another death.
A little four year old boy died.
My sister points out where she saw the brain out of the head.
I start to feel sick to my stomach.
Why does this keep happening in my village? I have only been living in my village for half a year and two people have already died from being run over in my village.
The buzz was throughout the village, and it was intense.
What a scene to walk into when I had been gone for weeks prior.
I needed to clear my head, so I joined my family on a trip to the stores to find food for dinner. It was nice to be in a vehicle again. Zooming through the villages past many of my students who looked excitedly as I waved at them. We finally headed home.
I was ready for my well deserved shower. And the water was out.
It did not bother me much, I used a bowl and the barrel for water to wash myself and it still felt great.
Shortly after, the power went out. And stayed out for hours. My family searched for candles and finally we had light.
It had been an intense day of travel, and events in the village. No matter what they threw at me, I was still thrilled to be at home, catching up on life with my family. The truth is, as much as I enjoyed my freedom in Apia and elsewhere, I really do still enjoy living in the company of others. I do wish the mourning family the best, as I come back to life on the Southwest side of Savai’i. Life here can’t be beat!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Taste of Home

Taste of Home
After travelling around Apia and Tutuila for the past few weeks, I finally recieved a taste of home. It is funny how what I consider home. I used to think of home as being in New York, Colorado, or even Wyoming...But now I have this deep craving for my little (although it is really big) island of Savai'i.
The past few morning we have been going for runs around Apia, and it was real refreshing to see someone with their mosquito nets up, taking naps in their fale. I crave seeing this as it is a piece of my home, Savai'i.
This mornnig on the bus, it was refreshing to see the bus driver help load a bus full of packages onto the bus, as well as more people than a NYC bus driver would know what to do with. Rachel and I immediately got into the spirit but lapsitting, and dancing to the amazing Samoan music blasting from the radio.
We hopped onto the ferry with the hundreds of other Samoans and took a nap right on the deck of the va'a despite the drizzle. On the boat several people came up to us that knew us and it made us really feel as though we belong here. It is our home as people come up to us speaking in a language that I understand offering giant hugs and kisses in the process.
When we got to Salelologa, we both breathed in a sigh of relief as we knew that tonight we would finally be sleeping in our own mosquito nets, watching our families cook on the fire and just embrasing the amazing culture of Samoa.
Savai'i is my home. It has a different feel that Upolu and I love the sense of pride I feel when I meet others that feel the same way about my home.
After a long vacation it is good to be home.

Manu Samoa 7's



Manu Samoa 7’s

“Welcome Home Heros” and “Welcome Back Champions” signs were hung about the streets of Apia. The whole country felt like it was crowded in the tiny streets of Apia to celebrate the Manu Samoa 7’s World Championships in rugby. Being a person who wants to embrace the culture, this meant that I had to be there as well.

Samoa is a tiny country, but living here at times it feels like it is bigger than America. However when celebrating an occasion such as this, in which the Prime Minister considers the day a national holiday, it makes you realize how small the country is.

Everyone was decked out in their best blue clothes, and instead of the parade marching through town with people on the sidelines watching, everyone was joining the parade and marching alongside. It was an amazing site to see.

The National Anthem along with other Samoan songs were song by some of the group marching, while the Digicel people were pumping some of Samoa’s best hits from the radio.

The parade ended at the Government Buildings. In which there were many celebrations for the team.

It was such a beautiful site to see, and makes me feel proud to be at least at temporary Samoan citizen.