Monday, December 20, 2010

No Sleeping in Samoa

The Trench & Cammi Jen and I looking awesome in our matching tasis.

No sleeping when you need to experience Samoa
Jen and Cammi came to visit me in Samoa, and I had plans made. I wanted them to experience Samoa the way I did, as well as seeing all of the beauty of the two main islands. The only problem was they had a week and a half to do it in, unlike my two years.
I tried to keep them up as much as possible, and that meant starting from day 1 we would be doing several things, without napping, except in transportation. The two of them did well as we truly experienced Samoa.
They arrived off the plane, and as soon as their luggage was in a safe place, and food was in our bellies we began to enjoyed everything in Samoa.
We started off with the Robert Louis Stevenson hike, a hike which might not have been as bad if it hadn’t been raining right before our arrival. This meant that the trail was going to be slippery. We decided to take the easier path, instead of the path that goes straight up, making it seem like you have to hug tree toots the entire time. The “easy” path is not exactly easy. It is still extremely steep, and the mossy rocks and mud make it extremely slippery. We were hopping over fallen trees in between slipping and falling on our bums. When we made it to the top, it was worth the mud filled clothes as we saw the view next to Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave.
Later that day, in between meetings, we left in the rain to go to Sliding Rocks. I wasn’t sure how much Cammi would enjoy the place, especially with her not enjoying water so much. We traveled down the million stairs to the waterfalls, and the two girls looked at me, wondering what I had in store for them. Since it was still raining, the place cleared out, and so we had the waterslides to ourselves. I tell them not to worry, since we will do the little ones first. We walk across the water, and I slide down the first slide which empties me into a pool of water. I tell them to follow me, as I wait for them at the edge of the next slide. One by one they follow. They then look down at the next slide, and tell me I’m crazy. I tried reassuring them that it will be a lot of fun as I zoomed down into the next pool of water. One by one they followed. I was really proud of Cammi, who did it, and said it was exciting, even though she said never again. We then rocked climbed so Jen and I could go again while Cammi watched. Afterwards we headed up to the biggest slide. Because of Jen and Cammi working in the medical profession, they were extremely nervous, saying that the slide was a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) waiting to happen. I told them not to worry, as I climbed up the rock, and slid down. Making it without a problem, I convinced Jen to try it with me. She enjoyed the thrill as she was scared the entire time. We went on it a few more times before heading back to Apia to watch the amazing show at Aggie Grays.
The next day we traveled to Savaii. Like them, I was exhausted, since I woke up at 1:45 the previous morning to catch the bus. So I did what I normally do on the boat, found a place to sleep. I didn’t know at the time, but the two of them thought it was hysterical, the site of me curled up in a ball on the floor of the boat. When we arrived in Salelologa, I woke up and we walked off the boat, and went to the market. We bought a lot of vegetables and went to the seamstress, so the two of them can get custom made outfits before heading to my village.
The following day was Prize giving at school, and I was thrilled with how proud my sister and Cammi were of me with my duties of the day. They then got to experience village life, which included watching volleyball, hanging out on the road, watching people sweep (The two of them are convinced that people just sweep when they are bored.) and swimming at the beach.
The following morning I had them experience the 2 am bus, to get to Upolu. They were shocked of what I do to travel to Apia. We hopped a fence, avoided horse poop and hung out on the road in the middle of the night. A bus, ferry, another bus and a half hour walk later we were in Apia. We picked up a rental car and were ready to experience Upolu. We started off at the soap factory and learned how to make soap with only cooling. Our next stop was the Baha’i Temple where we enjoyed their beautiful grounds. Third, we went to the gigantic waterfall on Cross Island Road to see pure beauty. Then to the National Park where we swam in the waterfalls, and then did a tree hike to see the enormous Ma Tree. (We would later name a tree in Falealopo “Pa Tree”.) We then went to the Si’u Trench. The trench was gigantic, and the ladder to climb down gave us a fright, but we were still happy to swim in the trench, especially inside the cave. Seventh, (I think that’s what we are up to..) we visited Kyle’s village, where we learned about making Ava bowls. We ended the day by going to Denise, one of our PC staff’s houses to celebrate Chanukkah. It was a lot of fun celebrating it with her and her family, as there was delicious food and we were quizzed mentally all night by her son and his riddles.
The following day was Sunday, we went scuba diving, and we had to head back to Savai’i. Again, I got a nice nap on the boat, and woke up just in time to arrive in Salelologa, where we checked into a hotel, and took gigantic leaps into the lagoon surrounding the hotel. It was a beautiful place to relax as we swam until sunset, then climbed the ladder to the deck of our little house. We left our clothes out to dry during the night and I covered them in rocks to avoid them blowing away. But about 4 in the morning we awoke to the sounds of rocks falling to the ground and I lost my favorite lavalava. Somehow all the other clothes survived.
We started the day by going to the Tafua Crater. We wanted to do the hike up to it, but were not sure where exactly the hike was. So we picked up a village boy and took him in the car with us so he could show us. We had a laugh, as there is no way this would happen in America, a family just letting their son go in a car with a bunch of foreigners.
After the crater, we had work to do, so we went to two villages on the North Shore of the island for Jen and Cammi to do blood pressure checks in Ali’s and Rachel’s villages. Then made the long trip back home.
The following day we headed west to Dana and Matt’s villages. We also got to watch my Samoan father’s performance at a church, snorkel, go to the Rock House, hang out on the beach, see the sunset from the westernmost place on the globe, and a few more sites to ensure that we were as busy as can be.
On the one week mark of the trip, I made sure they awoke early to go back to the rainforest to do the Canopy Walk. Then to Elisa and Emi’s villages to finish up the blood pressure checks. We ended the afternoon by swimming with turtles and visiting the lava field to see the church that was destroyed by the eruption. (Also the car that has been there since 1905….which is extremely amazing since it is a car from the 1980’s…)
The next day Jen and Cammi said goodbye to my family and we drove to Taga to see the blowholes. I have been here several times, and thought I knew what to expect, however the morning proved to be full of surprises. While Jen and I were standing off to the side where the blow hole wasn’t erupting to, the biggest gust came up and headed straight towards us. We tumbled to the ground where we laid there for several minutes wondering if we could get up. Finally we did, as Cammmi watched nervously trying to decide what to do about us. Jen and I were scraped up pretty bad, but we were not going to let it ruin our fun. We visited the closest volunteer, Supi, and had him empty out his medical kit for us. After a morning like that we deserved to relax, so we headed off to Manese to enjoy beach fales. They were happy because we finally had a day to relax, even though it meant that our trip was winding down. That night a gigantic storm blew in while we were at dinner. One of our pillows blew out of our little hut along with mattresses blowing against the walls to become as soaked as possible.
The next morning the rain stopped, so we relaxed on the beach, while Jen joined Cammi and some children build sand birthday cakes on the beach. We then went to Salelologa where I showed them Savai’i nightlife, by taking them to our only bar on the island. The night started with a cultural show where they were able to see Polynesian dances from across the Pacific. Then, the fun started (for me at least). Eva Eva (the night club) has a house band, and plays the best music of the area, including hip hop and Samoan covers. This night however, they even included a Christmas mix, and the Hokey Pokey into their song repertoire. The way nightlife works is, boys come up to girls and bow to ask them to dance, then after the dance you shake hands and go back to your seats, until the next song starts up again and the next boy comes over to follow the pattern. It always makes me laugh because I feel as though I am at a junior high dance.
The next day we picked up Jen and Cammi’s new outfits from the seamstress. They decided to pick out clothes from magazines and the seamstress made them to look perfect. We then headed back to the north shore to go scuba diving and have an amazing dinner with a few members of my Peace Corps family.
Sunday meant that there was only one day left, sadly, we headed back to Upolu where we went to the South Shore to spend the night with a family before doing the river hike the following morning.
The hike was a perfect way to end the trip as we hiked alongside the river, through the river, jumping off waterfalls, rock climbing and just really enjoying the Samoan outdoor life.
I kept the two of them extremely busy throughout the trip, but I think it was worth it, because we all had an amazing time. I was even voted tour guide of the year by them. It was sad to see them leave as I watched their plane take off, but I know in another year we can all have another adventure in the Rocky Mountain region.

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