Friday, February 13, 2009

TV, weather, and hospitality

TV…what is that?
Seeing how I have no tv, it was great during the election and inauguration to be able to go to town to watch these momentous occasions. Yeah for CNN international. It is also really cool to be able to say I was at the US Embassy in Samoa for the 2008 election. It was a sweet party, lots of great food. It was nice to be around Americans during this time too and watch history in the making. For the inauguration I was at the Charge de Affairs house (she has real floors, walls, and windows…and even air conditioning! I felt like I was back in the US). Only a few of us Peace Corps Volunteers went, but I wasn’t going to miss something like that. Usually I don’t watch the inaugurations because it isn’t that interesting to me, but this time was different. I had to watch history in the making, and I’m totally in love with the First Family. All the Samoans know who Barak Obama is and ask about him quite often. This is funny to me, for some reason I did not think I would be asked about politics here.

The Sun and the rain
You will get sick if you are in the sun or in the rain. Or at least that is the Samoan philosophy. If someone is sick, especially a palagi, it is because they spent too long in the sun. If I am outside during the middle of the day, even just to go to the shop, I will have at least 5 people say “O le la” (the sun). So I know when I get dengue it will be because of the sun, regardless of the fact it is actually caused by a mosquito. When warned against instant sickness from the sun, I simply say I am malosi (strong) and go about my work. I have sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, I figure I’ll be ok, just a little sweaty. The same is true for rain. If I am weeding with the women and it starts to rain, even just a little drizzle, they say “ua timu” (it’s raining) and tell me to go inside. I don’t stop until they do though, confident my body can handle a little drizzle. This is all really funny to me because when it comes to playing cricket or volleyball, no rain or shine can stop them. Apparently one only gets sick from working in the sun and rain, not playing in it.

Southerners have nothing on Samoan hospitality
Having grown up in the Mid-west and lived in the South, I think the whole Southern hospitality thing is a total fallacy. Samoan hospitality is above and beyond anything one might expect. If I go visit a family, just to talk, I almost always either get food there or am given something to take home. Usually it is niu (coconut) to put in my fridge and enjoy cool later on. People give me tomatoes, watermelon, avocadoes, papaya, etc. At toonai (large meal after church) with the women of the village, I very often come back with a basket full of food. It’s great, but sometimes people give me stuff and I have no idea how I am going to eat it all. When I first got to the village, people would give me loaves of bread, which is something hard to come by on this side of the island without going to Apia. At one point I had 3 loaves of bread to eat. I am a carb-o-holic so I love bread, but even I had no idea what to do with all that bread. So I did the fa’aSamoa and shared it. I was given a loaf of bread and almost 2 dozen eggs one time after the village used my house to cook for a large church event. This was on top of the rest of the food throughout the day. Samoans are extremely generous, especially if you are palagi

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