Rock the boat
I found myself in Apia. A place I didn’t plan to be. It is such a commute to get to the city, and I hate doing the round trip in one day. (If I take the first boat, it takes about nine hours to arrive at the city. Which means the previous night is usually sleepless as I am often afraid of missing the bus.) So I decided to stay in Apia over night, and convinced my partners in crime Cassie and Rachel to do the same. (Rachel was will to do the roundtrip to Savai’i that day, but I convinced her boat trips are more fun with a friend, and thankfully she listened.)
This trip I found myself doing something that I have not done in a year. At 1:30 in the morning, I opened up my Ziploc bag that contained pants, and put on a pair of pants. It was weird as I finished getting my things together around my room, I felt so scandalous walking around, since I was wearing something I never wear, since it is sa (not allowed) to wear pants in the village for females. I put on my lavalava over the pants, making sure they were covered completely, because I felt a little weird to be wearing them.
The bus arrived in Salelologa around 4:30, and I headed to the tiny Peace Corps office to wait for the boat. Awhile later Rachel met me there, and I showed her what I was wearing. “Wow, you look so American,” she told me. I told her how weird it felt to be wearing the clothes I was.
We went to the boat together, and took naps on the top deck of the boat. I used my lavalava as a blanket, like normal, and when we arrived at the wharf, I looked at Rachel and asked if I should put it back on. “We are in Apia,” she reminded me. So I acted as many Samoans do when they arrive in the big city, I ignored the many village rules that had been engraved into my brain and decided to “let loose”. I walked off the boat with my lavalava in my bag, and wearing my pants. With how scandalous I was feeling in my room, I was feeling even more so as I headed on the bus. I felt as if everyone was staring at me for wearing something I shouldn’t be. Of course it was all in my head, but it was weird to reflect on where my head is, especially in comparison to a year ago.
After doing the errands that sent us to Apia, we found ourselves with a loss on how to spend the remainder of the day. We knew we could easily find a place to sleep, but we could not ignore the opportunity to be around the friends we rarely see. We contacted some of our favorite people in Apia, and learned some of them had relatives visiting form overseas.
This lead us to being tourists for the first time in the nightlife setting.
We were going to Rock the Boat.
I had heard stories of Rock the Boat, that is was a little party ship, but knew not much about it. Rachel and Cassie, both being from NJ and NY respectively, began thinking of the little boats that go around the NY harbor, and figured the night might be something like that.
Except for the many white people, dressed how we would picture them if they were going out in New York City, we couldn’t have been more wrong.
The boat left the dock before sunset, and travelled for about ten minutes before stopping. This is where we would be for the next few hours. We were to be on a rocking boat, looking at Apia. We were so close that some of our friends who missed the boat’s launch were able to catch up to us on a little dingy.
There were so many white people on the boat, that us girls do what we have done as a response to seeing a group of white people for the past year, get nervous. We don’t remember how we used to act around a group of non-Samoans, and don’t want to do anything that we would think of as being offensive, so we cling to all of the Samoans we can (Besides our palagi friends that we know in Samoa, since they are also safe to us). This meant we befriended the staff quickly.
Besides staying in our tight knit group, we had an amazing night full of dancing and karaoke. We were surprised how much fun we had on a boat that was sitting right next to the dock.
When I summed up the day to my friends, they had a laugh with me. What was I to do in a year when I arrive back in America. They pictured what I found be wearing my first Christmas, and it gave me a laugh. We then imagined us going on in NY together, wearing our lavalavas and weird tops from CCK, our favorite store.
No matter what, I know that I will have my connections to Samoa in America, with my Peace Corps friends, and my sister Sharlene. Maybe one day we will go on a real night boat ride together, and get to see something besides the Apia harbor. We could even go tasi’ed up. (That would be a site to see…)