Sunday, July 19, 2009

My coconut wireless is totally broken….along with everything else in my house

I was sitting in my house Friday night preparing dinner and thinking about what movie or tv shows to watch for entertainment that evening when I heard the sound signifying singing practice. I had no idea why we were having it so late as it is usually held at 4:30 in the afternoon on Tuesdays & Fridays or recently on Saturday and Sunday. I wasn’t keen on going but someone came by and convinced me to go so I did. When I got there, barely anyone was there but this isn’t unusual (we have cancelled practices due to few people before). As I was talking with someone the words maliu (funeral) and oti (dead) came up. I inquired as to what she was talking about and she was surprised to hear that no one had told me we had a funeral in the morning. I said “oh, ok good to know”. . .it was 8:30 the night before and I was just finding out, great. At least it was better than the other two funerals I have been to here, no bus at 6 am going to Apia to pick up the body. We waited here for the church service instead. This is sometimes the problem being the palagi in the village and living by yourself, you don’t get told much. Even for Peace Corps related things I am usually the last one to know about things. Oh well, that’s my role in life…walking around confused all the time.

Some random things about life in Samoa:

I’m not sure who exactly is in charge of the movie control board, but it must be a man. The movie “Milk” was banned here in Samoa, because of the gay theme. However, the movie titled “Lesbian Vampire Killers” is allowed. I’m not sure how you can ban a movie because it involves the subject of homosexuality, yet you allow another movie with the word lesbian in the title. How does that make any sense? I guess I can just chalk that one up to being a palagi and I’m never actually going to understand Samoa.

What is especially confusing about all the dislike in Samoa about this movie is the fa’fafine aspect of Samoan culture. According to the dictionary we were given during training, a fa’afafine is an effeminate man. Division of labor in Samoa is very strong. There are things the men do and things women do and that is not to be mixed. Sometimes when a family doesn’t have enough girls to do chores, they will raise a boy as a girl and he/she will do the girl’s chores. The little boy will be dressed in women’s clothing and will be called a girl. When older, some fa’afafines abandon the women’s clothing (at least on a daily basis) and go home to a wife & kids, while others continue the cross dressing lifestyle and have relationships with men. In most cultures, a man having a relationship with another man is classified as a homosexual relationship. However, in Samoa that is not classified as gay (which is probably good because homosexuality is illegal here). Some teacher PCVs have said when teaching they get answers of there being 3 sexes, male, female, and fa’afafine. There are many fa’afafine pageants and competitions in Samoa and the Pacific and if walking around late enough in Apia one can see them on street corners strutting their stuff.

As much as being a fa’fafine is ok by most Samoans (although there are some who look down on them), they seem to get picked on a lot. During the sewing clinic in my village, one of the teachers was a fa’afafine. She was picked on a lot it seemed, but she gave it right back too. When on the bus, the fa’afafines get picked on. They seem to have developed a thick skin to it all though. Trying to get the best of people is sort of a Samoan thing, which is why we palagis get a lot of teasing, but to me it seems the fa’afafines get picked on a whole lot more than other people. All part of the fa’aSamoa I guess.

On another note: There are no helicopters in Samoa (rumor has it there may be one, but this is just gossip; general consensus is that there isn’t one). I was sitting in my hammock reading one day last week and heard this awful racket. At first I thought it was the little boat from Salani taking surfers out to the surf spot. As it became louder I could tell it wasn’t the boat and began wonder what on Earth was attacking Samoa. I then saw a helicopter fly by. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the ground I was so shocked. The real funny thing was the little annoying dog which won’t go away pretty much did the same thing and seemed really confused as to what that weird flying thing was as she watched it go by, never taking her eyes off it until it was out of eyesight. I began thinking, especially a couple days later as it went by again, what is this thing doing here? I then hypothesized that it must be for Survivor: Samoa and getting aerial shots. I guess they will airbrush my house out then. I’m contemplating putting up something really annoying and seeing if I can find it on their footage. We will see if the boredom comes to that.

1 comment:

  1. I was visiting family in Samoa and vacationing at the Samoana Surf Resort at Salamumu when the same Survivor helicopter flew by. I was in church the next day and the big white Navy helicopter flew by. On Monday while having a fish burger at Seafood Gourmet another helicopter was landing by the wharf. I thought the Gods must be crazy cos there were helicopters everywhere in SAMOA.