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.