Tuesday, October 18, 2005

'O a mai oe? (How are you)

Things have been busy, but fun. On Sunday we had the day at the beach (Cultural Awareness Day). All previous volunteers say that it was their favorite day of training. We swam, snorkelled... It was fun, but you could tell it was still a little wild. There was this one type of fish called a trigger fish and it was very territorial. It would swim in the same area, and if you came near, it bit you! Almost everyone got bit. And it was mean, never swam away if you tried to thrash at it or anything. I got attacked by three at the same time. Let me make it very clear however that they are very small and beautiful, so they trick you. :) It was a very beautiful beach (everything here is). It's the beach where all the palagi's (white people) go. One Samoan guy there taught us how to climb a coconut tree and get them down. We learned awhile ago how to crack them open already. We ate some sashimi. (Mom, you'd love this). It's raw yellowfin tuna cut into small pieces and then you dip it into a soy sauce/wasabi mix with a TON of wasabi!

Saturday night we had the Fiafia. Where the most recent group of volunteers (group 74) put on a traditional samoan feast/dance for us. [Side note: We are group 75. The oldest group which leaves when we swear in is Group 71. They come in every 6 months or so.] Anyways, they sand, did a few dances. One was the slap dance where the guys run around in their lavalava's (wraparound skirts) and slap themselves. Another was the virgin princess dance. A woman dressed up in the traditional chieftan princess garb and she spun a sowrd. But I think that the best part was the Samoan fire dancer. They hired the international fire dancer champion, and he came and did 2 dances where he spun around sticks lit on fire. One part he shook one of the traineers hands while on fire. It was pretty awesome. You'd have to see it. Maybe I'll take it up as a hobby. :) Then we ate a TON of food prepared by the current volunteers. Some was traditional Samoan food: Octopus, sashimi, a lot of coconut related products, taro (which I am not a fan of), breadfruit (a tastless starchy fruit also not a fan of)... But the best were the desserts. Samoan's love sweets. Everything has coconut in it or cacoa.

So far, I am definatly glad that I joined the Peace Corps. They say that teh 10 weeks of training are tough, but also easy because we take a lot of classes and do a lot of studying. I liken it to being Freshmen in college. We are still in the dorm, most things are done for us. :)

We leave for the village on Friday. Our village where we will be living and training for awhile is called Falevao. It is on this island ('Uplolu). The name either means big grassy house, or toilet. Most Samoan words have double meanings. And EVERY word, if you miss pronounce it, is a swear word. Every word. We have heard many stories of volunteers who have made these mistakes and have been told we will make some embarassing ones ourselves. So we have to be really efficient in our language. Falevao is a little inland from the coast, and is on a river. I am excited and anxious about living in the village. We will be living with Samoan families in the tradional style houses, open air fales. Which are usually one big room. And we sleep in the corner on the floor. Some have rooms. It will take some getting used to the no privacy aspect of it. We will be there until October 30th. Then back in the hotel for a little while longer. We find out where we will be placed October 29th. So during the time in the village communication is pretty limited, actually non-existent. I will update my site again when I return from the first village stay.

I am having my birthday 3 days after we arrive in the village, that will be interesting and I think a little hard since my family has always been into birthdays.

Until next time: Fa'afetai. Tofa.


At 4:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if I don't get back on here on time, the I will wish you,
"Ia Manuia lou Aso Fanau!".....3 days early.

I found your link from Marques' link. I was just surfing and found his first, and then yours and Maris.

I find it interesting what you guys and gals are doing. That is awesome - I only wish I had done something like that when I was able to....

anyway, being Samoan though I am a 3rd generation Samoan born and raised here in the States, I know that if those Samoan families find out its your birthday, they'll definitely hook you up....you have family everywhere down there....

...don't sweat the small stuff, the taro and breadfruit you don't like now, you'll be missing it once you leave....ask them to make it fa'alifu style with "coconut cream"....no sugar....I noticed you said that you liked the desserts...they do have a taro (mashed) dessert called "fa'ausi"...tell 'em to hook you up...its cooked underground and mixed with ripe papaya and honey or sugar...

....good luck to you, Mari and Marques and the others....I will check on you gals and guys again...

...this is fun for me since I haven't been back to Samoa since 84 but once.

Tofa Soifua Julya!!

St. George, Utah

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous MARY said...

Hello Ms. Julya!
I just caught up on your last 3 blog updates. It is 3:20 am and I can't sleep, so I figured I would get up and check emails and came across your blog. Those pics are just what I imagined Samoa looking like. My favorite is the one of you in the water while raining. That was too cool.
Thought I would let you know that I already miss you. There have been times this last week where I have wanted to call and knew that I couldn't! However, I am happy that you made the decision that you did to pursue this opportunity. It sounds like you are doing great, which is good to hear (and see by your photos).
And don't sweat the birthday thing. Knowing you, I'm sure you have already started some new friendships and you guys are all in the same boat together, missing your families and special events with them. 27 is rather uneventful anyway - take it from me (that is, unless you spend it with MY family, then of course it is eventful! ha ha!)
Love you!
Ms. Mary

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Christi said...

Hey Sis!
It's great seeing all your posts and getting updated! I bet it feels good to finally be there.
It seemed like yesterday when we went out for coffee on Vashon and you told me you were thinking about going into the Peace Corps for the first time. I think I rolled my eyes and said "uh, okay", thinking you would change your mind in a week. And now! You're in Samoa!!!

BTW- Seattle winter weather is setting in so you're not missing anything.

Good luck in your training and have fun!

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Mom said...

Hi again Julya, I accidently posted my comments two earlier blogs down. Oh well you will see them. It was early this morning. The pictures are great especially the one on you in the water with the rain. Right at home. Have a great time in the village, and we will be looking forward to what you have to write when you come back to Apia. Love again and always. Mom

At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Julya! My mom sent me the article from the Beachcomber about you. I'm so excited for you! It sounds like you are having a wonderful adventure! I wish you well on everything you are doing, and if you ever get a chance to write, my e-mail is clelandm@msu.edu. Take care! :) Meridith

At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

Hey cous! Happy Birthday!

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous sspev said...

Hi, Julya,
It's my weekend time to check in on you, and chatch up! I loved the new pictures you posted, and will echo the comments from others, that the one of you in the ocean is wonderful! Hope your birthday will be fine, all things considered. Yesterday, Elizabeth and I went shopping and I bought her birthday present for her early, since she's leaving this Thursday, returning to her gig in Chennai. It's hard on parents, too, to have their kids gone on those special days. I don't know about how packages arrive in Samoa, but our experience with sending care packages to India has been much less than positive. Have a great birthday -- remember, you're loved by many!

At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Mom said...

His Sweetie. Jim at work made me a map of the Samoan islands, that shows where the towns & villages are, and I have it on my wall at right in front of my desk. It shows Apia and Falevao, so I can see where on the island you are located. I point out the village to everyone in the office. It sounds beautiful. Hope you are enjoying your stay with your family. Hope your birthday was fun. It was strange not having you here to celebrate on your actual birthday. All the birthday people at Church (mostly the Blakelys that is) miss celebrating with you also and wish you a happy birthday. Can't wait to hear from you when you get back to Apia. Probably will be a run on postings when you all get back. Everyone wants your address, so I am going to give it out. Love and miss you lots!! Mom

At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Julya--

How are ya doiiiiin?

I am studying hard, but not having as much fun as it looks like you are having in those pictures. Didn't anyone ever tell you to come inside out of the rain? Isn't there lightning in Samoa?

Do I have to come over there and make you take care of yourself? I'd love to do it!


At 2:09 AM, Anonymous Dad said...


The time difference is now only three hours since we have gone off daylight savings time.

By the way, you need to fix your blog as all your personal stuff, links, etc, are at the bottom of the page instead of the top.


At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I ever met a girl who liked Neal Stephenson.

God bless you - suffering in far away Samoa.

Rich Chwaszczewski

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Paleni said...

Malo soifua lau susuga.
Manuia tele au, faafetai.
A ae oe?

I am group 69, was an IT volunteer. I left December last year. I found your blog and wanted to say HI. Good luck in your training.

I donated my entire collection of Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman books to Skye and she will donate them to the office library. Talk to her to read any books you may have not read. I know you will want to have some books to read to kill the large amount of free time you will have after you take your assignment.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Julya Steyh said...

Rich, I love Neal Stephenson and I did get in touch with Skye who lent me a signed copy that was left to her from a former volunteer. It's good to know that others know the obscure authors I love.


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