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.

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