Wednesday, February 16, 2011

82 Machetes made me into a Biker

Bike Ride

My goal was to conquer Samoa, by riding my bike around the two main islands.  I did ¾ of Savaii without a real problem, then completed the smaller Uplou island.  I had ridden over 150 miles doing this, and with a few side trips, had completed abut 200 miles of bike riding.  I just had one little portion to go.  The part from Salelologa, Savaii to my house. 

First, I was stopped from making the journey complete because of cyclone warnings (that seemed to go on forever).  Then, we had a conference in Apia, and that ran into the start of the school year.  Each time I brought myself to Salelologa in hope to bring my bicycle home, a storm was on the horizon and it rained, making me forced to take the bus back. 

It was weird because I thought that I was being smart about the entire thing, by checking the weather, and rain never really showed on the forecast.   (I guess that is still a part of living on a tropical island during the rainy season….)

Finally, last week, I went to Salelologa, and in the morning the clouds appeared like it would be another hot day.  After having a nice big breakfast, I braved all the potholes created by all of the rainstorms we have had lately and began to ride home.

It felt really good to be on my bike again.  In Satupaitea, I passed one of the pastor in my village’s car.  I was honked at by the busses from my district, as I just waved on. 

When I reached the never ending village of Gatavai (seriously, even when you are driving, it feels like 30 minutes to drive through!), I encountered a surprise.  I heard a familiar, “Hi Lili!”  I immediately turned around and saw some of my students on the road trying to say hi.  I was still far away from home, and surprised to see these kids there, since most kids rarely leave their villages.  I stopped and spent some time with them, and learned a little about how my former year 8 student was doing in college.  When I got up to leave, I heard something that put the biggest smile on my face. 

I had been concentrating with my younger students on different things to say to palagis besides “bye-bye”.  In my year 3 class (after last year where some of them learned to answer the “how are you question” with “spectacular”, “excellent”, or “great” or “amazing”)I have been trying to get them used to more familiar speech, and they are doing a surprisingly good job with it.  Especially for their age.  Anyway, I heard, “Have a good day!” from a little girl in that class.  I felt so proud that I wanted to stay and hug her for hours, but my journey awaited. 

When I reached the next village of Taga (another never ending village), it started to get hot.  Really, really hot.  I never realized that there were hills in this village, but there is a hill that at the time felt never ending.  I had my own mini temper tantrum, where I decided to stay on the grass, and hope that the hill went away.  I must have been there for almost half an hour when I finally gave up wishing the hill would just go away, and got back on my bike. 

As I headed towards villages closer to my house, I was amazed at how many people knew me.  Some of them said a plain hi to me, while others asked where family members were. 

When I got closer to my village, the clouds began to build up, and sure enough, 3 and a half hours after I started, I arrived home, and the rain started.

Last year Dana, Matt and I decided that we biked enough together that we should form our own biker gang.  (I think our 18 speeds can rival with some of the best.)  We called ourselves 82 Machetes.  After completing the ride around Savaii, a feat that both Dana and Matt had completed previously, I felt like I was officially initiated into our little gang.  We bike and we know how to use machetes.  I say that makes us pretty awesome.

Now that I completed the two main islands of Samoa, I am trying to scheme to bring my bike to Manono.  A small island like that will be easy after all the mountain passes I’ve seen on both Savaii and Upolu over the past month.

For anyone looking at biking around.  I was told Upolu is about 95 miles around, and Savaii is about 110 miles.  Upolu has worse roads, as there are always more cars on them, and it sometimes get scary with them on the road.  But if I can do, anyone can.  I really mean that!

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