Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welcome to Samoa Mom and Dad

Yesterday I spent the day cleaning. Trying to be as Fa’aSamoan as I could, I knew I needed a tidy house for my visitors. I made sure all my clothes were put in the laundry bag, the garbage was taken out (I felt extremely sorry for the rest of my village since I took it out on a Tuesday, when I was supposed to only on Friday mornings), and did the thing that always shocked my mom growing up, making my bed.
Why was I doing this?
Well for starters I good cleaning was overdo, and secondly my parents were coming to visit!
We had been taking and preparing for this trip for months on end and the day had finally arrived. I felt the same as I did on Christmas Eve, wondering what the next day would hold for me.
One of my students had promised to help me make flower ulas (necklaces) for my parents to greet them at the airport. When she hadn’t come over to help me make them by 5pm, I began to get worried. Was she still coming? Did she forget? I began to mount a full scale search for her.
First, I went to her house. Some little children, who thankfully didn’t invite me to play in their game with a ball, told me she was in the next village.
So I start walking down the main road to the village. I saw someone in her class at school and asked if they had seen the girl I was looking for. Sadly, he hadn’t be he told me many of the children were at the Mormon church.
I knew that they were working on a Fijian Dance for an upcoming church event next month, and figured that is what they were practicing. I began creeping slowly into the church, and it looked as though the children were engaged in lessons. I slowly walked out and was greeted by some children. “Sau Lili (Come Lili). What are you doing?” I explained that I was looking for Tai, my sweet student as she was going to help me make ulas for my parents.
I hit a hot button topic!
Family, something they always love to ask me about. They began quizzing me and quizzing themselves on the names of the people in my family, the names of my cats, who looked prettier in the pictures they had previously seen, and so forth. The kids and one mom I was with were thrilled. Questions like, When will I meet them? Will they come to school? Will they come to church? Why isn’t Jenny and Billy coming? Are your parents rich? Can they bring my chocolate? It became overwhelming.
After a long list of questioning, lessons for church were finally finished and I headed inside to watch the dancing. The girls were so cute with their moves, and told me I was not allowed to sit and watch and I should join them. So I stood in line and mimicked their moves. It was so much fun!
After dancing, I walked with Tai home and she told me she wanted to make the ulas, and she would bring them to my fale when she was finished.
Dinner came, I ate.
I read my book.
I began to get inpatient as I as tired and knew that the 2am bus was what was going to await me in just a few short hours.
I wanted to go over to her house and pick them up! You may laugh at me, but being 27, I still have not walked alone at night in my village. I tell everyone that I am scared of the night because of the cheeky boys, but I think deep inside, I am scared my flashlight is not going to notice a big pile of horse poop and I will step right inside it! In other villages and in the city, I try to walk in groups, like our Safety and Security Officer always told us. I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I have walked alone after sunset.
But anyway, I am getting off topic again. My brother, Soki, was volunteered to walk with me. Tai is my neighbor so it only took a few moments to walk over there. (We did pass two horses on the way, so my fear is justified.)
One of the necklaces was hanging up on a clothes line. It was gorgeous! Red teuilas with white and yellow flowers to match. The other one was busy being made. I watched as the girl worked intractably . It was amazing watching her carefully use her needle to go in and out of the flowers to make something so beautiful.
I came home and finally went to sleep. At 1:30 AM I awoke to get ready for the bus ride, and by 1:45 I was out the door waiting for the bus in the side of the road. At exactly 2:01 the bus arrived. I sat right in the front row to make sure I am able to get the nice cool breeze from the door being open. (The temperature outside by Samoan standards was cold, and I knew many people would be trying to close the windows. The ride was nice and smooth. There were no cows on the road, and thankfully very few pigs to have us stop short. We finally arrived at the wharf close to 5 A.M. One hour until the boat ride. I was thrilled to see that the new ferry, the Lady Samoa III was back in service after being out of service for the past two weeks. This meant there would be less of a chance of getting motion sickness.
There was a movie on the television screen, but I could not get into it from being so exhausted. I tried reading my book, and that was no helping, so I put my head on the window to try and rest.
The ferry ride was only an hour long, and I was surprised when I got off and there was a man calling out my name. I went over and he told me that my parents had arrived at the airport, and they sent him to pick me up. It sounded like he was on the plane with them and the amount of information he knew was unbelievable, so of course I believed him.
We arrived at the airport, and I ran over to my parents to give them the ulas. My mom loved hers, and my dad…well even though he thought the flowers were pretty, he said it was interacting with her nose. We hopped in the cab and went to the hotel.
My parents had a lot of luggage, bringing many mea’alofa, or gifts of love, for my family and my school. We had a beautiful room overlooking the ocean, but we had to go up two flights of stairs to get there. It was well worth it, when we saw our beautiful room.
We only stayed in the room for a few minutes because I brought my parents around town to do some errands with me. First stop, the Peace Corps Office.
I had to go there for a few reasons, first off, I needed to see our nurse, for my leg. Since there is a bump, even though the infection appeared gone, I wanted to make sure my leg would be good for the race. Apparently my self treatment of bathing in iodine was working, and my leg was looking okay. The infection was almost gone. I might have chipped my bone when I fell, and that is why a bump was forming below the knee. I was told to put something new on it to finish it heeling.
Next, I exchanged my broken helmet for a new one. This way I can get around my village and do the little errands more easily.
I chatted with some people about our upcoming health project, and then we left.
I told my parents we needed to walk around town to take it all in. I showed them the different markets, and got delicious fish and chips to eat at the fish market. We made it back to the hotel, and my mom and I relaxed at the turtle shaped pool while my dad rested.
After the time outside, we went upstairs so my mom could take a nap, and my dad and I went out for a walk to find lunch for him. We walked all over town, and ended up at a market for a delicious meat plate.
The day was full of relaxation with my parents and I was excited to show them my village the following day.
It is nice showing off the amazing place I have been living for the past 10 and a half months. I hope they enjoy it as much as I have.

Spilling off my Bike

I should feel special that everyone cares so much about me. I’ve been asked tons of time if I am okay based on my leg. I guess it does look pretty bad. There are cuts maybe 4 inches long and two inches wide, and today I realized that I have just as big a bruise growing on the other side of my leg.
I have also been walking around with tape going around my foot. I have a deep cut there, and don’t want anything to get inside it. But I think seeing the tape around my foot worries people.
I know I talk about running a lot, and it is because it is one of the few activities I really enjoy doing in my village before dark. I think it is more interesting to talk about than the books I read. So I apologize in advance to Jen, Holly and whoever else is reading this that is sick of running stories.
So I decided to run to the left today so I could play volleyball. I had gone the entire day without credit on my phone since none of the stores in the villages surrounding me had credit for me to top up my phone. My mission was to run until I could find a store that had credit. It took about 2 miles for me to find it. My leg was aching the entire time, but I was proud of myself for ability to keep going.
On the way home I stopped for volleyball in the rain. The rain meant that the ball was wet and completely dirty. Really quickly it was not just my leg different colors. My arms were speckled with brown dirt and white…not sure where the white was from, but it was on my arms. The dirt travelled onto my face. I felt like Pig Pen from Snoopy. I had a lot of my teammates laughing at the colors I turned. I think they made sure to keep passing to it me for that purpose.
When sunset was approaching, I decided that I was running out of time to get the two villages back to my home, so I jogged back to make sure I had time to rinse off in the bathing pools of the village next to me. The bathing pool had about 10 people in it, including a few kids having the time of their lives as they cannon balled in the water, drenching my sneakers.
I made it home just before the sun set, still a bit dirty and wet. A nice cold shower was exactly what I needed, and it felt great.

Science Fair

“Did you know that pilis (small clear lizards) can regenerate their tails?” I texted Cassie. We were discussing the cat vs pili fight and my observations. We went on to talk about the science fair, where her principal met up with her the night before to do the experiment the children will present.
“Wait a second,” she said. “That is an interesting experiment how are you doing it?” Cassie thought I was going to use the pili for my school’s science fair. We each had a quick laugh as we pictured a booth full of kids with machetes cutting tails off of lizards. The funny part was we could both see the possibility of it happening.
In some way the science fair is similar to the ones in America. The parents all want their kids to do their best, along with the teachers, so they are the ones to do the project instead of the students. The science fair is really only opened to the top students, and the others aren’t told about it.
My family made the simple machine which would be the project, showed my sister how to use it and then wrote up the scientific method for me to type. While we were doing the work she was practicing the script she would present to the judges.
The next day ,the actual day of the competition, we were all still working on her project. My sister and my mom went to the science fair, while the rest of us teachers went to school to teach.
After school I headed over to the kolisi since it was a day I usually volunteer there. On my bike ride there several students that were standing on the back of a pickup truck bed shouted to me, “We did it. Gagaemalae is number one!”
I also had several kolisi students from my village tell me that my sister placed first and I should be proud.
I made it to the kolisi and my family was still there, so I gave my sister a hug and told her congratulations. The people who were helping out with the fair were munching on the leftover food. They offered me some, and I said no as I was fed delicious food at school that day. I had a good time spending time with them, acting Samoan as I fanned their food with a breadfruit leaf.
The science fair will continue to the finals, and it goes by scoring. This means not every first place winner will make it. I hope my sister does make it since it will bring pride to our school and community.

Around the Island Part III

I fell right outside a hotel, and one of the workers saw me and invited me inside. They helped with my bike and I limped inside with blood dripping down me. I still had plenty of water so I was trying to wash the rocks out, when a couple from New Zealand saw me. They had just arrived in Samoa, and the woman had a first aid kit and offered to help me while I waited for Matt. We picked out the many tiny rocks and gravel out of my leg, and put different things on it to clean it out, but it still kept bleeding.
Matt arrived with Trent while the woman was helping me. Apparently Trent was just passing by the area and had arrived in the village the same time as me from the opposite direction. I was not ready to leave on my bike yet to go back to Matt’s fale to recover until I felt better to continue my journey or travel back home. So the three of us sat on the deck of the hotel enjoying a nice breeze as we listened to the ocean. Trent is in the group that is leaving in the next month, so it was nice to catch up with him before he goes back to America.
After tafao-ing (hanging out) for close to an hour, we finally decided to leave. We rode slowly, as a few people recognized me in the village, shouting, “Hey Lili,” as I passed. If they didn’t recognize me, Matt shouted to the people who were giving a second glance to me that I was his Peace Corps sister.
Matt lives on the school compound, so when we arrived there was an intense rugby game going on at the malae (field). Matt decided to retire inside, while I sat on a rock to watch the game. Some of the boys shouted “Oka, vea’ai o le teine vai! O ai maua o le tavale? O le teine alu I le fale mai, ” (Of course it may not be directly what was said…and spelled correctly, but roughly translated. Gee golly gosh, look at the girl’s leg! Who has a car? The girl needs to go to the hospital.) I hadn’t cleaned off my leg since the bike ride, and blood was still trickling down. Staining my leg I had a few streams of dried blood which I think worried the boys. I calmed them down, saying I was okay, and I was a teine Samoa. Samoans don’t go to the doctor for something little like this, and I was just like them.
After the game, I raided Matt’s medical kit, which was an ongoing theme for my time there. I picked out the gravel out of the cut on my foot, re-cleaned all the wounds, and bandaged them up.
I learned that Matt is an amazing person to take care of you if you get hurt. He cooked an amazing dinner for me and him and we chatted about life. It had been a month since I saw him last, and we reflected on our ten months in the country.
I think my body was in shock from the fall, that I did not feel much pain. I called my family to let them know what had happened. I told them I was going to decide in the morning if I will continue, or take the bus home. They told me that if I did not feel up for the journey that they will come and pick me up. Since I was feeling fine, I was pretty confident I would continue on, and had Matt consider seeing how far he could bike.
In the evening Matt went to lock up the gate, and called me outside. He asked if I had ever seen the Milky Way, and pointed it out. The sky was so clear we could see thousands of stars. I did my usually game of trying to make shapes out of the different stars I see (like people do with clouds). We each sat there on opposite sides of the cricket slab fascinated with what was above us. We must have seen a few dozen shooting stars each. It was so beautiful.
I fell right to sleep that night on the bed frame with a mat on top of it. But awoke shortly after with horrible pain in my leg. I couldn’t take it. Thankfully I had Panadol in my bag to help relieve some of it. But it still hurt. I could not sleep.
The following day, I awoke to children going to school (the year 8 students work extremely hard in every school.). I hopped outside, sat on the step and read for a few hours.
The good thing about Matt, is you can visit him and still have your space. He does not mind if I were to go off on my own without him. He is a good brother in that way as we have our space from each other, but when we feel the need to talk, we are there for each other. There are now only two men left in my Peace Corps group, and I am so thankful for those boys as they really are amazing brothers, since they are always there for you when you need them.
Matt went about his daily chores, or what he could do of them, (Like my village his piped water gets shut off frequently.) while I relaxed and waiting for my family to pick me up.
Before I left, he fixed an amazing tuna sandwich lunch, with sides to munch on as well. My dad and sister showed up to drive me home. I was once again offered a trip to the hospital, something that I was offered about two dozen more times in the course of the weekend.
As I rode home I felt kind of defeated for not being able to finish my trip around the island and being stopped so early in. But I have come to realize it is just not my time to get this done. I will ride around the island one day, just a time when my body is more prepared.
But for now, I just have my battle scar around my knee and on the side of my foot. Hopefully it won’t stop me from running since I do not want to lose all the training I have done for the relay race (T minus 3 weeks to go).

Around the island? Part II

I went home, filled up my many water bottles, and put them inside my saddlebag for my bike. I had a quick bite to eat, and off I went. I left around 12:30, a really silly time for anyone to do any exercising as it is the hottest point of the day. I learned quickly that carrying that extra weight also made riding more difficult. I was determined to make it though.
I was getting tired quickly from the heat. I was determined to push my body through it, as it was going to be a trip of a lifetime. I learned that I needed to stop for half a liter of water about every 30 minutes. I always made a point of stopping whenever there was people sitting in the shade off to the side of the road. This way I made many new friends along the way.
Whenever I used to talk to people in the past they would ask about the Peace Corps in groups previous. Our group is making a positive name for ourselves I learned quickly. Instead of asking about those previous Peace Corps, people were asking me about the wonderful girls in my group. They always had positive things to say about the others, then offered me a chance to rest for the rest of the day, and when I refused, wished me luck on my journey.
Another thing I came to realize is that all my help at the kolisi after school and involvement in church functions has given me a positive name as well. Throughout the whole ride I ran into many people who knew me by name. (Many offered me assistance in finding a pe’u (boyfriend) in their village so I could visit more often.)
About two hours into my ride I met with Dana. She was waiting for me at her family’s store. We chatted for awhile as we munched on delicious cookies then visited with her family. They let me fill us my 5 liters of water and I was off again.
A little over an hour later I heard a car so I moved off the road. When the car passed, I tried to get back on the road, but there was about a three inch gap separating the road from the gravel I was on. My bike struggled, on the rocks and I fell over.
I laid there for a minute. Trying to recoup. It was only a little fall. Only my right leg was hurting. Matt lived nearby, so I called and gave my location and asked if he could come with some of his first aid kit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Around the island?

I had planned my trip for a few months. I was going to bike the 80 or so miles around the island to see what was there. I was going to take a few days to do it originally. I was going to leave Friday after school, bike to Asau and spend the night there. The next morning bike to Manese and spend two days at the beach, continuing Fathers Day Monday to Salelologa or Palauli. Then wake up really early on Tuesday and do the last few hours of biking and arrive about an hour late to school. I was so excited it seemed like such a doable and fun way to see the island.
Then plans began to change. Others began dropping out of our weekend at the beach fun, so the beach was cancelled. I didn’t let it dampen my spirits though. I was still going to see the island, but only push myself further. Instead of just going to Asau after school, I would continue on the deserted hilly road to Sasina to spend the night there. Then wake up as early as possible to bike to Palauli, or possibly home. I was excited, and told many people of my plans so they could meet me for breaks on the road.
I went to school Friday anticipating a good day. I luckily had only one class, year 5. When my time with them was over, they went to the assembly for singing with the rest of the older kids while the younger kids played games outside.
I kept switching between groups having the time of my life. The young ones were separating into their four color teams and playing different little games with a ball. They were so well behaved and cute as a button.
The older kids were singing songs with one of the teachers as she goofed off with them calling different children to dance while the others sang. Samoans sing so beautiful, I think it is because they are fearless, but nevertheless, I love listening to them. I sat down on a stool and admired them for awhile. I wanted to be a little closer, so I moved my stool a few feet over.
The wall fell down. I am serious when I say that. A wall. A wall that separates the two rooms. Apparently the stool was holding it in place, I was so terrified I screamed and jumped because it was close to landing on my head. I cautiously picked up the wall, and leaned it against where the other parts of the wall were, and put the stool back.
After I gave everyone a few giggles the teacher that was leading the choir left the room, and the kids requested me taking over with the songs we had been singing during English. Most of them are little kids songs that I thought they would get bored of quickly, but they seem to love them. We sing them in school every day, whenever I see them in the village, the kids try to sing them with me as well. We had been working on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in years 6-8, for a challenge, and the kids wanted to test it out. So we did, and with only a few errors the kids were amazing.
It was finally time for malologa, recess and lunch. The balls came out in full speed as soon kids were in every direction playing rugby, soccer, volleyball and many more games. After spending some time with the kids, I was dismissed from school so I could begin my long journey.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Staff Meetings are like a Gambling Hall

Staff meetings are always interesting. I never know quite what goes on at them, and pick up little pieces of them whenever I attend. I miss some meetings so I can spend more time with the kids teaching, but sometimes I get lassoed into the staff room.
Every meeting feels like a gambling hall. The teachers have their own savings account/loan system. They each put it a certain amount of money each week, and teachers can choose to take some of that money out for falavelaves or other needs. If you borrow more than you put in, interest is charged. At the end of the year the teachers get back whatever money they put in that they did not re-borrow.
They also talk about the money collected from students for fees such as for the toilet and stationary.
Usually at staff meetings uniforms are discussed. This week after going over the colors for each day of the week, the staff decided to add a new uniform to the rotation. Money was collected again for people to go to the store to buy fabric for the new purple uniforms.
At every meeting I have attended they have discussed corporal punishment being illegal as well, and if there are supplies they are divided among the staff members. This week we each got a new pen.
The staff meetings can be interesting, but I am happy they are only biweekly.


Tuesdays and Thursdays I ride my bike two villages away to the kolisi to assist with homework help in the computer lab. It takes less than ten minutes to ride my bike so I don’t mind going there and finding not much to do.
Last week I ran into that twice. On Tuesday, the kids had a lot of work due, so they went home right after school. I spent the time with the women teachers gossiping. It was an enjoyable time.
Thursday I rode my bike up and saw smoke. “Oh no,” I thought. “I hate the smell of burning trash.” I came closer and was surprised. All of the teachers were sitting around and some of the students and the newer teachers were barbecuing. They turned on the radio, and began dancing as we had fun cooking and spending time together. It was one of the teachers last days and they were celebrating her service to the school.
I stayed there for several hours having a good time dancing and eating with my friends and colleagues at that school. I enjoy being at the kolisi for the students and from the company from the teachers.
I began to ride my bike home just before sunset, happy with the amazing afternoon shared with the teachers.

Shrinking Pisi Koa Family

We started with 23 amazing people, 18 girls and 5 boys. Group 82 was ready for the adventure. But life happens, and people had to leave one by one for different reasons.
Again, we are losing two more people, our amazing mom and dad of the group. One has medical issues, and the other is getting his service interrupted because of this falavelave to accompany her home.
Tomorrow they leave and we will only be left with 15 members of our group. Thirteen females and two males. Since training ended in December, five now have left, all have been placed in Upolu.
Does this mean that Savai’i really is the better island, as we have not lost any of our volunteers yet? Maybe the fewer people, creates fresher air, and more enjoyably volunteers.
Either way, I wish the two of them a safe and happy return to America.

Telephone Issues

I used to think my telephone was magical. It had special powers where I was always able to track it. Yesterday it turned to the dark side.
About 11:30 in the afternoon I picked up my telephone for the first time and realized something was up. The buttons were doing their own thing. I would press the 1 button, and 41 would show up on the screen. Other buttons were doing other things as well. I had a few people call me, and I pressed the telephone to answer, and it hung up immediately. It was frustrating. The people tried calling back, I attempted to answer again, and again had problems.
What we like to call the “Samoan Factor” happened. Electronics just break randomly here for no reason. I have broken a few cameras, just like many of my friends. They have also broken computers, Ipods and other random electronic items.
I want a new telephone to replace mine that just sucks battery. Being close to noon on a Saturday, the cell phone store was closed. I am unsure of when I will have time to head to Salelologa to get it replaced, and have begun to warn people that I my phone is not in the best working order, including emailing the Peace Corps office to let them know to contact me with the numbers on my emergency contact numbers, since I would not answer on my line.
Later that night in my village, I began to get more functions on my phone. I was now able to read text messages. I still am having difficulties with answering the phone and pressing buttons, as well as sending text messages. In fact strange things have been happening with the telephone. The phone was sitting next to me, touching nothing, and randomly called voicemail. Strange.
The scare happened at night, the Safety and Security Officer called twice. I tried to answer, and of course it hung up each time. Despite the heavy rain, it was not cyclone season…what else could he be calling about? I then received a text message, “Please call the on duty officer phone. Urgent.”
I borrowed my mother’s phone, inserted my SIM card and called him back. He was trying to locate another volunteer, but had already found her whereabouts. I informed him about my telephone issues, if another emergency came up.
Hopefully nothing will, and I will get a new phone to replace mine within the next week or 2.

Rain Rain Go Away Come Again Another Day

It is not the rainy season, but you could have fooled me. It rains almost daily, usually in the morning, but we have had plenty of days with only rain.
Before the heavy rain started, we were sitting by the water, and began looking at the waves. It appeared as though the water was receding, and the waves were huge. I was with Rachel, and we had one thought on our minds, tsunami. My phone was broken, her phone had a dead battery, so if there was an emergency no one would be able to contact us. “When the water leaves the area and recedes further back into the ocean we make a run for the market. Climb up to the second floor, and try to climb onto the roof.” Thankfully, it was just our own fears getting the most of us, and nothing happened to cause us to evacuate.
Later in Salelologa we were trying to dodge the rain. Taking taxis and trying to stay indoors as much as possible. Watching the rain out of our office window, the ceiling began to leak. A lake was beginning to form outside on the road. It was taking up the entire road. We were waiting for the bus, unsure of when the ferry schedule, especially because it is unpredictable especially on rainy days.
None of us were looking forward to the bus, since on rainy days all of the windows were shut. It makes the bus extremely stuffy and hard to sit through long rides.
I was standing on the chair waiting for the bus looking out the window. People were trying to walk around outside with umbrellas, were facing difficulties. The wind was too strong, and was no match for the umbrellas. The ferry was supposed to come awhile back, and we were still waiting. The bowl that was collecting our leaky ceiling water was getting full and I headed to our office bathroom.
The bathroom for our office is shared with others. Since I have been there, there has never been a working light. It was raining so hard, that there began to be a leak there as well. The floor was a complete pool.
The ferry finally showed up, about an hour and a half late, without passengers. It was the little boat and I heard that because of the rain and the rocky waves, they were not carrying passengers, only vehicles.
As soon as the boat was about to dock. The busses left. As expected, they were stuffy with the windows being shut. Since the busses were very late leaving, they were also very full. The aisles were ful of boxes and barrels of different things. There was no free space. There were 3 or 4 to a seat, people doing balancing acts trying to stand on whatever little floor was left.
I had my own balancing act. I was sitting on a little piece of seat, with a bucket between my legs and a one year old on my lap. Out the door were plenty of people holding onto whatever little piece of bus they could hold onto as they hung out of the bus. It was very interesting, but I was happy with the bus ride was over.
The following day it was still raining. I was happy that I had planned on going to the closest church so I did not have to walk on the muddy road far in my church white clothes. I put on my raincoat and headed out the door.
Whenever it is rainy, everything starts late. People are normally walking places, so people need extra time to get to church, school, meetings, or wherever the daily agenda for the village is. I showed up a few minutes early, and the pastor wasn’t even there yet. I sat with some kids and enjoyed watching the rain pour outside. I saw many people hurrying trying to position their umbrellas to stop the rain from hitting them. There was a horse outside that was spooked by the rain.
After church, I headed home in the rain to take a nice rainy day nap.
The bad thing about rainy days is that you can never do laundry. Even if you wash them all, there is no place to hang them to dry them.
Another bad thing is the piped water is always shut off in the rain. I think it is to prevent us from getting muddy water, but it is frustrating when water is shut off for a day or so.
At least rainy days are relaxing, you can nap and catch up on little things in the house. I sewed up the little holes in my tasis for school and relaxed.

A Wiggy Weekend

Many of the people in my group have been going through rough times. On the roller coaster of our journey we are almost at about 10 months in, and it is good that we are here for each other. Because of this Rachel and I decided to spend some time together.
After school we met up and decided that to have the most amount of fun we would have to step into other people’s shoes. Now instead of buying new shoes, Rachel and I decided to buy wigs. For the rest of the time we spent together I had auburn hair while she had yellow as the sun hair. They looked fabulous.
We headed over to one of our favorite places where we hung out by the water with one of our friends, “Knockout”. (A few weeks ago we translated his name. It really translated to face punch.) We played games and had a dance party in our new identities.
It was finally dinner time, and we desperately wanted good Samoan barbeque. We had Knockout call around to see if a place was open, so we could have a taxi deliver food for us. However we were out of luck. Good thing where we were there was amazing food and ate amazing breadfruit fries with poke.
During dinner we met an amazing couple from New Zealand that loved the spirit of our wigs and had a great time chatting with them for the next day. They thought the wigs were an amazing touch, and were wondering if they would run into more Peace Corps wearing wigs, or if it was only us with the amazing fashion sense.
We also came up with the decision during dinner to try out the only nightclub on our island. We had heard really mixed reviews about it there, and decided we would at least try it. Since we were two girls, we wanted company, and convinced Knockout to come with us.
We walked to the club where the live band was playing great music consisting of ABBA (because of Mama Mia, ABBA has become huge here), Samoan music, and other classics such as “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. We had an amazing time dancing the night away.
At the club they had a cultural show with amazing men and women dancing. We gladly put in our money to siva with them.
The night was about to end, and it began to rain. Since we missed out running for the day, we decided to jog back to the place we were staying, still in our wigs, which made great umbrellas.
The next morning we woke up to an amazing breakfast, and hopped on a bus to the market. The market was alive as there was a band playing and many people dancing. We window shopped for potential gifts for her nephew, bought some vegetables and headed over to the fish market area. The sea creatures for sale looked amazing. There were sharks, eels, sting rays, and fish of various sizes. Rachel needed to pick up something for to’ogani, and settled on a nice looking octopus.
We headed back, gave the octopus to someone to put in the freezer, and hopped into the ocean for a nice swim. We went back to the deck, hung out with our music and friends, and realized it was finally time to leave.
The time with Rachel was awesome, like usual. It was nice because we had the time to clear our heads from the village and life issues we were dealing with and had a nice short break. We decided that we need to do it more often, buy wigs and spend time together. It inspired a lot of conversations with new friends, and gave us a few chuckles as well.

Village Boys

I was riding my bike home, and like usual there were many distractions to keep me from getting to my destination. The first decision to stop was an easy one to make. I saw a few kids in a mango tree and they offered me one. Mangos are something I can never turn down. They are too delicious! I spent some time on a hill sitting with a group of kids eating mangos.
I hopped back on my bike and rode about ten feet before I was stopped again. This time by a few boys in my village. I was intrigued to go over there because the boys were taking turns riding a bike inside the house. I hung out with them in a fale. Like most Samoans they loved my bicycle helmet and had to try it on. We had a good time hanging out listening to music.
What surprised me was what happened next. I am used to girls acting this way, but not boys. I had my hair braided in a pony tail, but there were a few loose strands from my smaller pieces of hair. The boy sitting next to me began taking them and braiding them. I had a little tail of braided hair, similar to many people in the village.
I kept the braid in my hair all day, while I was running, playing volleyball and just chatting with people in my village. Every single one of them mentioned the tail and complimented it. It was really comical.
I never thought I would spend an afternoon hanging out with boys as they braided my hair.

Village Boys

I was riding my bike home, and like usual there were many distractions to keep me from getting to my destination. The first decision to stop was an easy one to make. I saw a few kids in a mango tree and they offered me one. Mangos are something I can never turn down. They are too delicious! I spent some time on a hill sitting with a group of kids eating mangos.
I hopped back on my bike and rode about ten feet before I was stopped again. This time by a few boys in my village. I was intrigued to go over there because the boys were taking turns riding a bike inside the house. I hung out with them in a fale. Like most Samoans they loved my bicycle helmet and had to try it on. We had a good time hanging out listening to music.
What surprised me was what happened next. I am used to girls acting this way, but not boys. I had my hair braided in a pony tail, but there were a few loose strands from my smaller pieces of hair. The boy sitting next to me began taking them and braiding them. I had a little tail of braided hair, similar to many people in the village.
I kept the braid in my hair all day, while I was running, playing volleyball and just chatting with people in my village. Every single one of them mentioned the tail and complimented it. It was really comical.
I never thought I would spend an afternoon hanging out with boys as they braided my hair.


That’s all anyone wants to talk to me about. Boyfriends. Why haven’t you picked one yet? “Haven’t you looked around my village, the men there are the best,” I am told from many teachers. The teachers from my school make up 5 villages, and when I go to the kolisi, it makes up many more villages.
Every few weeks my Samoan parents sit me down and ask me about the boyfriend situation. When I begin to explain to them nothing is going on, they stary questioning why. Why aren’t the boys in the village good enough for me. What am I hiding? Can they pick out a suitable boy for me?
I have used many excuses the past many months. First I wanted to learn the culture and language, so that way I knew when boys were being cheeky. It was working for a bit, as some people started being off my case on the subject, but soon everyone thought I spoke the language well enough to have a Samoan friend. My newest excuse is that I didn’t want a “friend” that smokes, since they have yellow teeth, and smelly armpits. (I do not know how to say another kind of smell still.) There are many Samoan males that smoke so that narrows down the available men by quite a bit.
Everyone keeps pressuring me to find a man because I am way too old to not be married. Last week I visited Elisa, and we tried explaining about the power women in America feel being single. Being able to provide for themselves and see the world without difficulties, this is what we looked forward to in life. The people we were talking to didn’t understand how our views were different.
I’ve had nine months of this chatter, and I’m sure it will continue for the next year and a half. In a way it is a comedy, which is the best way to approach it.