Palolo Day 2
Since last year I went several times on the wrong day to kapalolo, I jumped at the chance to go again to make up for the previous year, and to get a different experience I went with different people to a different location. This time I was going in my village. It is hard to get to the ocean in my village. I mean it is right there….but there are so many rocks on the hill and other obstacles to make it hard to travel.
I was told to leave my telephone, what a use as a torch. This worried me because I have fallen walking to the ocean when it wasn’t dark outside. Our first stop was to pick up the paopao (canoe) so that everyone would have a safe place to keep their buckets of sperm. When we arrived, the paopao was broken. The bottom that allows the canoe to float was split in two. The men set out to find other pieces of wood to fix this and using vines from the tree to tie it into place. It is always so amazing to watch how inventive Samoans can be.
We then set off. Although we walked on the slimy rocks next to the water the entire time, it was still at least a ten minute climb to get to the spot where everyone was. When we arrived, there were several people in the water searching with their flashlights, similar to the previous day. However, they were not given as colourful commentary. We sat on the rocks hanging out until those in the water mentioned the sign of palolo swimming in the Pacific.
One my one, the rocks emptied as people swam over to the coral to catch the palolo. I waited until the sun was about to rise. It was hard to find my paopao of people since the ocean was so crowded and it was still dark. I spent a lot of time by myself in the water until I saw them. I helped one of the young girls guide the paopao so it was easy for everyone to access, as I enjoyed the scenery.
All of the people that I have come to love as a family were there in front of me. There was the old man who runs the shop who made a little raft for his bucket out of wood and tied it to his stomach. Another person came over to me with their bucket to offer me a taste. One of the pastor’s mothers was perfecting the art of catching the little worms. My brother was there with the mosquito net eating the palolo faster than he could catch it. It was magical. I decided I wanted in on the fun.
I still didn’t have a net, and even though I knew any of my students would have given me theirs, I didn’t want to deprive them of the fun. I put my hand in the water and started catching them that way. The little green and brown worms I was often able to catch, however I sometimes broke them in half (they still swim) or took all of their colouring off of their bodies. I popped them in my mouth for an early morning snack and sometimes put them in whoever’s bucket was closest to mine. It was a lot of fun.
As the sun rose and the whole scene became more and more visible, I realized I had to leave to get ready for school. I swam back to shore with a big smile on my face.
I learned later from someone at the market the previous day that someone was selling palolo in a small mayonnaise jar for $400! It is incredible how much it is worth. I am really lucky to be in a village with such amazing coral that we have an abundance of it.