While I wasn’t blogging, and only thinking about it…this is what was happening:
Samoa celebrated it’s 50th anniversary on the 1st of June 2012. It was an exciting time as there was so much going on, however there was much confusion as it is different than celebrations in other countries. The biggest problem was the schedule of events was late coming out, and therefore the government was late in deciding which days were declared a Federal holiday. The holiday ended up being Friday the 1st, Monday the 4th and Tuesday the 5th, with a half day holiday on Saturday the 2nd, to allow everyone to shop for what was needed. The Public schools had a confusing time as well. The Ministry didn’t do a good job communicating when school would resume, and some schools had another week off from school because of the confusion, while others resumed without notice of what others were doing.
I was enjoying the holiday as I find myself working many more hours at my new job compared to previous two years. I stayed really busy trying to take it all in and had an amazing time.
I had an amazing accomplishment as I competed in my first half marathon, and finished in 5th place! I am really proud of myself as I was able to complete the entire race running. It was different than the previous years running as there were only four of us Peace Corps competing and I missed our large Peace Corps family waiting at the finish line.
I also participated in probably the longest shortest parade ever. It was the longest based upon the amount of groups marching in it, which was 250 if I remember correctly. We were all told to wait on a field in front of the government building for several hours before the parade. The area was small and we were all cramped together with barely enough room to breathe. Participants were getting sick and fainting due to the hot conditions. When it was time for our group to march, we were so happy to move and stretch out our legs. However, it was so sad to see how short the area was that we were to march. It was just in front of the Prime Minister, Head of State and other distinguished guests. It was not a parade for everyone to watch, except for on television. We marched for about one minute in total before it was done. It was such a disappointment as they could have made the parade so much better than it was.
During the week I attended my first Fafafine Pageant . It was a lot of fun and an interesting experience. All of the contestants picked a country to represent them, and it made me laugh how some of them probably picked a country that they knew nothing about. They gave speeches about their given countries and had outfits made that represent that area. They had a talent competition, swim suit competition (which was different to say the least as it was men parading around in women’s swim suits. From the people at my table I learned a lot about how strong the fafafine community is in Samoa as they help others even around the world.
I went several times to the fautasi races (the boats with 50 people rowing). It was always interesting because of the tide they would race at different times throughout the day, whichever seemed the least convenient it seemed. The finals took place about 5 am, in the pitch dark, with the boats reaching the finish line about the time of sunrise.
I went to the marching band and marching competitions. The marching competitions had students in primary school doing marching in a fun hip hop dancing kind of way. It was really enjoyable to watch.
I went to the candlelight visual service which was probably my favorite church service during the year. Hundreds and hundreds of people outside with candles as they sing songs and have a church service created a magical experience. It was beautiful.
I attended my first professional boxing match in which people from overseas came to compete. It was exciting to me as I was trying to figure out what the referee was doing.
There was also singing and dancing competitions throughout the week which were fun to watch.
Many people felt the highlight was the UB 40 concert. There were many amazing opening acts, and UB 40 was spectacular. I had to leave early as the next morning was my half marathon, and I wanted to stay refreshed for it. The comical part of the night I missed. Samoans aren’t used to concerts, as they are not as well trained as us from overseas. After UB40 finished their performance the spectators left, they didn’t know that encores usually take place following the acts. Then all of a sudden without any warning, the band returned back on stage. Those who left Apia parked returned to enjoy the surprise encore.
Independence Day in Samoa was a memorable but busy time. I don’t think I will forget the week of events.