Friday, January 8, 2010

This is a little late...but I'm on Samoan time.

I haven’t been able to upload a new post in a while. I’ve been on vacation in NZ & AUS and I tried to upload a new one before I left, but a virus on the thumb drive prevented that. Anyway, here’s what I meant to post before I left for vacation. Pretend it is December 20th.

I’ll get a new post up about vacation here in a couple of days.


Pretty crazy couple of weeks

The village had prize giving for the primary school a couple of weeks ago. This is always an outrageous event; Samoans celebrate their kids passing and moving on to the next year much more than palagi. First, there are ridiculous amounts of food, which there was so much most of us took home as well to eat later. Then the kids get their certificates and prizes. The prizes are pots, pans, soap, coffee mugs, etc. These aren’t necessarily gifts the kids want, but are more for the family. The kids at the top of the class get the most and best prizes, but everyone gets something even if it is just a couple bars of soap. We have a small school, 70 kids, so there are only 7-9 kids per class. When the kids go up to accept their certificate and prize, the parents go nuts. The kid, teacher, and sometimes the principal or president of the school committee (the high matai in my village) each get a candy necklace. There is lots of yelling and cheering and some of the more outlandish parents dance crazy and say funny things.

There is a fiafia after the prizes are handed out. The kids dance and put on small skits and the parents give money. During these singing and dancing sessions, the parents go up and dance really crazily as they are giving the money. Some parents choose to find anything they can, usually the pots, pans, or soap they were just given, put the items on their heads or something else equally odd, and proceed to dance in a manner which would definitely embarrass any palagi kid if their parents were dancing like that. It is hilarious to watch the antics and crazy behavior.

Each class does a “aumai se tupe” skit. The kids come up with some sort of song/skit where they ask for money. Example: one of the years was singing about a car. So as a group they would sing about driving the car, then individually they ask their parents for money to buy a stereo, lights, a new engine, etc. The parents give them a few tala and the money gets pooled for the school committee to have a party.

It is fun to take part in this event just to watch the antics of the parents. Some of the people in my village….crazy! I really need to get a camera with video recording ability and record some of it…words can’t really describe the madness.

I went to the matai meeting last Monday. I had to “palu le ava” (mix the ava) for the matai. I’ve done this on a couple of occasions for the village. I’m not really sure why, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it’s an honor really they would allow me to mix the ava for them. I went to the meeting to see what I could do about getting my computer back. I know someone has it because people have said they saw it on the steps of the church after the tsunami. I don’t really know why someone wants to keep it (other than to have a laptop). It most likely doesn’t work due to water damage and the shock of being thrown about in a wave and even if it magically did I have the charger for it so by now it is nothing more than a paperweight. I only want it to see if the hard drive was sealed well and perhaps I can get things, pictures, music, documents, etc. Luckily, I backed everything up before I came to Samoa so I still have everything pre-Peace Corps, but all the pictures and documents from Peace Corps and my travels to Fiji are gone. It would be nice to get those back. Anyway, I said my peace, cried to all the matai and taule’ale’a (untitled men), and got many “talofae le teine” which translates roughly into “poor girl” and is a phrase of pity. I thought the crying was a nice touch…they felt pretty bad afterword. There was discussion about the computer and they said they would find it. We’ll see if that happens, but at least they know I know they stole my stuff and I wasn’t happy about it. The material stuff (clothes, bags, water bottle, etc) is replaceable, doesn’t make me happy they took it all when I needed their help after I’ve helped them so much and continue to do so, but I’m over that now. But the computer? Why? It isn’t like they know how to use it anyway. Oh, well…I can only hope it returned.

Last Thursday the Ministry of Health held a fa’amalositino (translates as make strong body, means exercise or aerobics) competition in Siumu. The village women’s committee is a part of the fa’amalositino program so they went and I joined them. Naturally, we don’t actually do the exercise year round…only long enough to get the money from the government and then we stop. So about a week before the competition we started practicing. The first day it was in the evenings…that’s fine I can do that. For this whole past week practice was from 5-7 AM. So this meant I had to wake up before that to get ready and down to where practice was. The hours of 4 and 5 AM are reserved for sleeping as far as I’m concerned. This was a rough week. I’ve found out that when I wake up in the hour of 4 AM I’m quite grumpy, but I managed to get through it. We went to Siumu (bus left at 5:30 AM) and did our routine. The best part was the cd was damaged and kept skipping so we would get through part and then the music would stop and that would throw us off. It was bad, but we finished. We didn’t win the competition but still got the money so job well done.

Friday was the asiasiga, or visit to everyone’s house to check to see that their land was tidy, toilets clean and acceptable, and cookhouse up to standards. This started at 6 AM, so I got to sleep in til 5:30 AM! We had a little jungle hike at one point which was quite fun. One family moved way inland near the plantations after the tsunami. So we walked far inland to get to them and then cut across the plantations to get to another family’s house which is actually closer to the inland village of Siuniu. I’ve never been to the plantations in my village because no one will take me so this was the furthest I’ve walked inland. I had fun taking a little walk in the brush.

By the time 12 came around we were almost done and in the a’ai or village center. A family gave us all vai fala, or crushed pineapple with coconut milk. It was delicious! About halfway through I noticed a funny taste…someone had spiked the drink. Some of the women didn’t realize this until they had 3 glasses. None of us had really eaten anything except for a few biscuits/cookies at one of the houses and had been walking around for 6 hours, add that to the fact that Samoans don’t really handle alcohol all that well (what they call a strong drink, is quite weak to most of us PCVs, but they drink to get drunk, no social one or two drinks here)…you get some tipsy women. It was kinda funny, luckily no one got too crazy, but there was much laughing afterwords.

We finished around 1 and had a little rest. Then I played volleyball for a couple hours. Then we had ice cream and cookies (nice lunch) as part of the reward for all of us doing the fa’amalositino the day before. I went back to the house where my host sister convinced (more like forced) me to go to BINGO that night in neighboring Salani. I really didn’t want to play, but she wanted me to come hangout since it was my last night to do so (Mom and Aunt Sandra are coming for a visit and then we are headed to Australia and New Zealand). Playing BINGO is much harder when you have to translate the number before marking the paper. Way too much work, especially after the long day we had just had. That ended around 12 am and I had to get up at 6 am to catch the bus to get into Apia the next day. Friday was a long day.

Like I said above, Mom and Aunt Sandra are coming for a visit. I’m pretty excited to see family, especially it being the holidays, and to take vacation in a Western country. I’m pretty sure I’ll do some freaking out (I haven’t been to a Western country in 1.5 years…this could be interesting). I’m off to go pick them up at the airport. Driving for the first time in 1.5 years and on the left side of the road…oh the fun!

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!

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