How Many Cars are in NY?
I was invited to play volleyball in my neighboring village, so I decided it might be fun. I really don’t care for the games in my village as the boys sometimes play too rough, and I like my face the way it is. In the next village, the women take over the field and play together for hours. I was more than interested in joining.
After playing and spending some good quality time with the ladies, I left early to go for my run. This week has been a great week for exercise as most of the kids have been in Sunday school each afternoon, making me hear the question, “Where are you going?” a more manageable amount of times.
Because of that, I was started when I heard someone coming up from behind. One of my year 3 students was catching up to me with his rugby ball. He ran with me for awhile, then disappeared. I figured that was my cue to keep going….then he came back without the ball. And he was fast! I struggled keeping up with him. We ran a shorter distance to the next village and walked back.
The walk we had was probably one of the most amazing times I have had here. We talked about his village, and the people in it. He told me which people were good and which were bad. We talked about how fast it takes someone to climb to the top of the coconut tree. (Less than two minutes.) And we practiced English and Samoan.
At the end of the village, there was a machine digging a trench for a new water pipe. We watched the machine at work for about twenty minutes. I never realized how interesting construction equipment could be to watch until coming here. But I find myself always interested in how the machines work, what they are doing, and trying to decide if it really is for the best of the village. No wonder in Samoa they draw such a crowd.
On the walk back, we were stopped by several people asking what we had been talking about. When I mentioned who was good and who was bad, we got mixed responses. I think my favorite was from a man about the same age as me. He handed over a Chinese cookie to the boy. (I was told the man was good.)
Then I was asked a question that stumped me. He asked what village I was from. This question didn’t stump me, even though I give mixed answers all the time. I told him New York, since he knew my parents were from there. Then, “How many cars are in your village?”
“New York?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he responded.
I guess this is a valid question because in all of the villages that he knows you can always count the number of cars there. (In mine there are 7 cars, 2 busses and 1 school bus. 3 pastors have cars, the mayor has a car, my family, and three other families. One pastor drives the school bus, and there are 2 district busses operating from my village. We have a lot more vehicles than his village has.) He wanted to know a real question. I didn’t know how to answer. Thousands? Millions? In New York, there are several families that own several cars, something that is even more unheard of here as owning a car.
I told him 1 or 2 thousand. And got the answer I expected, “Oka!” Wow! I think he then went into a private daydream. I can’t imagine what would have gone through his head if I told him an answer I really thought.
Finally, the sun was about to set, so I had to say goodbye to my little friend and I walked home with some other people. The men who govern over curfew/prayer time were setting up on the field. They offered to let me be a policeman with them. I gave a chuckle as I told them I didn’t have a white shirt with me.
Even though I spent the entire day outside of my village, I felt just as at home as if I was there.