Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

I’ve been back in the village about a week now and am enjoying living with a family. I’m just off the main road now, so it is much easier to catch the bus. I don’t have to walk 15 minutes to get back to my house while carrying a back of groceries and after walking around all day in Apia. It is a totally different atmosphere than what I had before. Usually, only four people live there, but because of the tsunami we have an additional six people living there. We had another two as well, the parents of the people I am living with, but they are building a house just up the road and already have a small fale up where they sleep. The others will move out as well. They are re-building where the old fale was by the sea.

There are two kids in the family four and six, and for now a one year old and a one month old. It is fun to see the kids play. They do the funniest things. The family tells the one year old, Alofa, to “Fai maso” (flex your muscles) and little Alofa does a strong man pose, flexing her little arms and grinning ear to ear. It is so funny. The kids were playing the other day when Alofa got the best of the four year old, Karin. Alofa was terrorizing Karin who was lying down trying to watch a movie. Alofa comes running towards Karin so Karin put her foot up to try to stop Alofa. Instead of being stopped by the foot on her chest, Alofa acted like she was going to eat Karin’s foot. Alofa’s reaction to the foot on her chest was so quick; no time lost thinking at all. I cracked up laughing. I take the kids on walks and we watch movies together. It is fun to be around the kids.

Anita is the mom of the family. She is like a Samoan sister to me. When I lived alone, she would invite me to her house for dinner and to hang out, even gave me papaya and ripe bananas. She was the one who saw me not doing anything but sitting around after the tsunami and invited me for lunch at her house. She immediately started getting a room together for me. Anita takes care of me, but doesn’t overwhelm me which can happen sometimes in a Samoan family. She lived in town and was really good friends with other Peace Corps Volunteers, so she knows we palagi need alone time sometimes. Salesa is her husband; he said he would protect me from the cheeky boys. I really like this family so I’m glad to be living with them. They gave me a nice room in their house, even my own bathroom in my room (no more out house).

Now that I’ve been back for a week my things are starting to be returned. I was walking with the kids on Wednesday evening when one of the men in the village was waving for me to come over to his house. I went over and he gave me my dive watch and a pair of eyeglasses back; I was shocked. I know him and his family and they too are really nice so I’m not shocked they would be nice enough to give my things back, but just shocked in general I got things back. I’m glad about getting both back and especially happy to get the glasses because I only have one extra pair of contacts left. I have horrible eyesight so it is nice to be able to wear the contacts during the day and put my glasses on at night. This way I can save the contacts until more come by mail.

Taua, a matai who is a really helpful counterpart, has been going around finding out where my stuff is. I’m so glad to have him as a friend. I got a suitcase back, beat up pretty badly but who cares, a pair of shoes, my external hard drive and thumb drives (don’t work, but that’s ok), and most shocking cds & dvds (really scratched but appear to work). Not everything, but it is a start. I’ve washed everything, but I’ll be finding sand in all of these things for years to come.

The women on my Peace Corps committee and the pastor’s wife washed my clothes they found. I was shocked to see how clean they got everything. You can’t even tell the clothes went through a tsunami. I didn’t get much back, just 4 puletasi (what a shock those wouldn’t get stolen, but t-shirts which are clearly mine, like have things which say Peace Corps on it, I see kids wearing), 3 t-shirts (not the good ones I wanted, but I’m not in a position to be picky at this point), a rash guard, that is very useful to have back, and a few other random things. I was hoping for some other things, but I’m glad I got these things back. It was very nice of the women to wash everything for me. I’m glad I have good Peace Corps friends who gave me extra clothes they had. Whenever we volunteers get together, at least one person will be able to say I’m wearing their shirt.

So I’m glad to see that living in the village for over a year did make a difference with some people. I’m glad to have the women on my committee and Taua looking out for me. Now I have a family to look out for me too.

It is weird to walk on the paths in the village center and not see my house or be going home. I’m going to have to get used to not seeing the ocean all the time and not going to sleep or waking up to the sound of the crashing waves. It is odd to see where my house was; gives me a weird feeling. Not fear or anxiety, just weird not being able to go back to the way things were.


  1. After reading other Peace Corp blogs over the last 2 years, I suspected you would start to get things back, because that had happened with the others when they had things stolen. It seems that the community is so tight, that people know when someone has something that they couldn't have bought, and the community seems to make sure it gets back to the owner. The Tsunami is not an ordinary circumstance, but it still wouldn't be a surprize if you got even more stuff back over time. Wish it were so consistently so in this country!

  2. hey erica!im so glad to hear that u got your tings back! i hope its not any kids from my family wearing your peace corps tshirts..!! (that would be so shameful!) anyways im glad to hear that your staying with a family now...i hope your enjoying your time again.... hope all goes well for the rest of the year :) take care

  3. LOL....there's those 'Cheeky boys' again. BTW, those cheeky boys grow up to be taxi drivers. :)

    Glad to hear you've recovered some of your stuff and the nu'u is hopefully realizing you are one of their own.