Friday, February 13, 2009

Off to a new home

After swearing in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer in August, I moved out to my new village of Salesatele. I’m still on the island of Upolu in the district of Falealili, about an hour and a half or so from Apia. I live by myself (although getting my PC committee to not sleep outside my house at night was a challenge) in a fale (house) overlooking the ocean, rough life I know. I have an outhouse…all my years in Alabama I never once had one, but alas I do now. I have corrugated metal for a roof and walls, otherwise known as a sweat box. When it rains, the metal roof does nothing for being able to hear anything. At least the holes in the ceiling and walls are in places where leaks don’t occur. I have a papaya tree right out back which is amazing! I also have guava and noni trees. The church (EFKS in Samoan or Christian Congregationalist Church of Samoa, CCCS) is right across the road. I never have an excuse to be late for church, but I hate the ringing of the empty air tank (who needs a church bell, even though there is one) for 5 minutes to announce church starts in an hour. I waste a whole 5 minutes with my fingers in my ears, trying to make sure I will still have hearing at the end of my PC service. I have a new respect for laundry machines. Washing laundry by hand is a real pain in the butt! First, you have to soak them, then rinse then, and then hang them up on the line and with the humidity, hope they dry with in a couple of days. It isn’t like they are really clean once I do my laundry anyway since the water is usually not the cleanest, but I pretend like they are clean anyway. It truly is a chore.
I mainly work with the marine protected area (MPA), but like most other village-based volunteers, I’m a jack of all trades. I just finished writing a grant for sewing machines and am in the process of getting computers and a library and starting a homework center. I’ll be doing a rubbish clean up and health clinics at some point. Maybe teaching swimming lessons as well. I like hanging out with people in the village, playing volleyball, taking walks, or just talking. I pull weeds with the mothers of the village on Saturday mornings and participate in the aerobics program they just started. I joined the church choir, really I got dragged there and somehow was then a member. I don’t sing well (my family can attest this), so I mainly just pretend or sing really softly. It is a good way to meet people and be active though; I like hanging out with the choir people. The kids have contests to see who can say fa (bye) to me last and the loudest, so I often say fa to the same group of kids about 10 times before they are satisfied. I got to make the ava for the matai (chief) meeting, which was a high honor. It was fun, but as usual I had no idea how to make it. I think the matai got a kick out of the attempt though. I like my village and I think they like me, which makes living in a village so much easier.

Things you take for granted
1) Power
If it exists….it goes out a lot. In Amaile, I watched my host family make a Molotov cocktail to use as light…when a Molotov cocktail is made I only think of blowing something up, not using it to see. I was a little worried first time I saw them making the light.
2) Indoor bathroom
I have my very own out house, which is ok except a real pain in the middle of the night or when it is raining.
3) Bug proof houses
I have ants everywhere, naturally in food, but books, clothes, everything….gets old after a while, especially when they bite me. I sleep under a mosquito net every night in order to not be a feast.
4) Water
In the States, one doesn’t turn the faucet and wonder if water is going to come out today or what is in the water because usually it comes out a nice clear color, nothing to worry about. Here, if one has water it comes out muddy or with green specks in it. We aren’t used to the mud and bacteria in the tap water. Even the “treated water” from the plants in Apia have failed water quality tests done by WHO….so I have a water filter. In Apia if you go to a restaurant you will pay $3 or more for a bottle of water. I am fortunate to usually have water to be able to fill my water filter; however, this is not always the case, especially in Savaii. Hot showers don’t exist anymore.
5) Routine bus schedule
Here, they have a general time. You could spend hours waiting for the bus to come, only to realize it isn’t coming. Or you could be sitting on the bus waiting for it to take you home and only once your butt is numb from the uncomfortable bus seats and when full will the bus go.
6) Internet
I used to waste several hours of the day mindlessly exploring all the random websites one can find on the net. Now it is no problem because I don’t have internet. I check e-mail when I go into the office once every couple of weeks. It isn’t really a big deal except when you want to know one little thing you know you could Google easily if you only had internet. Then it drives you crazy.
7) AC
Being on a tropical island, I think that is enough said.
8) Noise laws
One would think in the middle of a 3rd world country, loud blaring radios would not be an issue. However, Samoans love to turn up the radio. Frequently, all I hear is the thud of the bass, but sometimes I am able to sing along with a radio which is at least 150 yards from my house. It just ruins the whole peaceful village image, especially at 5:30 or 6 in the morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment