Sunday, January 30, 2011
The cyclone circled around Samoa, hitting some villages, and missing others. It was a strange experience for some of us as we were getting many warnings about the cyclone and not understanding why we were getting them.
We were supposed to start our mid-service conference on Monday, in Asau. But since Asau was close to where the cyclone was supposed to be, they moved our conference to Apia.
The cyclone drama started on Thursday, and we were to stay in our villages for safety precautions until it had completely passed. By the last bus on Monday, we still hadn’t heard from our Peace Corps office about the plans changing for our conference. But they sure enough called and those on my side of the island had to call around to find a cab to the wharf to make the 2 o’clock boat.
I was confused about this whole situation because whenever I called Samoa Shipping Cooperation (SSC), they informed me that the boats were still not running. But since the Peace Corps office heard they might run, we were to head to Salelologa to see if the ferry would come.
It was raining hard throughout the day, and sure enough when we got to Salelologa, the ferry was not running. We waited for the four boat, but that wasn’t running either. By that time we learned that we were stuck in Salelologa. If you were to drive to left, there was a huge river that formed on the road to block our way, and to the left there were two big rivers, all of these impassible unless someone has a massive truck. Brave Emi, on her attempt to get to boat had to wade through a river that was passed her waist in order to find a ride to get to Salelologa.
Salelologa began to flood where it normally floods, but this time there were workers there to lay out rocks on the road to allow cars to still pass.
That night the winds were horrible, and even though our windows were closed, the curtains were still blowing to the ceiling. We had heard that the waves on the Pacific were as bad at 16 feet in some areas. We were hoping to make it to Apia the next morning, so we would not miss our conference, but sure enough the six o’clock boat was not running that morning. The seven of us took turns camping out at the wharf to try to find out information, while calling the SSC at least once an hour.
We knew we were in a bind, since the boats were not running, and there were rivers on the main road because of the flooding, so we were stuck in Salelologa. (To make matters worse they were tracking another tropical storm that they feared would turn into a cyclone.)
Finally at 3:30, on my last phone call to the SSC, we were told the last boat would not be running. We had found a place to stay for the night, and figured the next day was go home or go to Apia. Then, suddenly, Elisa called. She said they just started selling tickets for the boat. We ran with our stuff, and hopped in a cab for the wharf. Cars had been parked along the road waiting for a boat for several days, and so the road was crazy!
We finally just made the boat. Since they hadn’t been running in days, they decided to try running two boats. They were crowded, but I got a seat on the floor of the bigger of the two boats. I saw on the edge, trying to avoid conversations as I had to lean my head off the boat several times as we rocked hard back and forth.
I was so thankful when we made it to Upolu, because we had made the impossible journey possible. The rest of our group had started the conference without us, and from the rumors they heard, they didn’t think we would be coming.
We all met up for a group dinner, and it was amazing for the fifteen of us to get together. A few people gave speeches about our family, and I really felt so loved. It was worth all of the headaches from travelling to get to the people I belong with.