Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Differences in Pacific Islands

I must be totally used to the Samoan life because on my trip to tonga there were three things that stuck out to me as weird and different.
The first day I arrived I went to get in a cab with Dominica and Kelly, both of who are amazing girls living in vava'u. I looked around outside and asked the silly question, "how do you know what car is a cab?". I have been so used to every cab being white in Samoa and the ease of flagging down a cab because of this that it never dawned on me that white is not the universal color for cabs. Because of this I was always skeptical of each cab we went in..some were blue, others green, but very few of them actually said the word taxi somewhere on the vehicle.
Another thing that I have not been used to is the difference in burials for people. I have gotten so used to loved ones being buried right next to the house making an impressive concrete slab to hang out on. I do know of one cemetary in Samoa..but I do not know of anyone who hasn't just burried their dead by their house. In tonga I saw many cemetaries. Also, instead of the impressive slab of concrete, coral and rocks cover the plot of land making a beautiful pyramid. I know it is a custom that has been around for a long time, but I do not remember why..
The third thing I saw drasticaly different is the nightlife. In Samoa the music shuts off by ten and the different places close at midnight. This means you have to get your dancing shoes on earlier than in some other places...after being here a year and usually not leaving my house after dark, this is something I have gotten used to. Nighttime is supposed to be for sleeping, and I love sleep!
My Tongan friends told me we were going dancing and I was excited. I was ready by 7 o'clock with my jandels on to bust a move. I sat there waiting, and waiting. No one else was getting ready. I didn't understand it. By 9 I was growing impatient. I said, "Come on guys, we need to go out before the music shuts off". The others stared at me, obviously not knowing what I was talking about. We finally ended up leaving at ten, which felt as if it was past my bed time. Apparently in places outside of Samoa, people leave to hang out later in the night because the clubs close late.
I have gotten so comfortable in my Samoan lifestyle that even though I was only about an hour and an half away by plane I felt way out of my element at times. At least I was able to adjust. I hope I don't run into the same issues with any other adventures I take.

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