Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Years

Happy New Years

These last few days have been fun. Marques and Holly headed out here to see where we live and hang out. I guess other Savai’i volunteers say that we get visitors less often out here because it is far and just a hassle. But it was fun. Marques stayed with Bob and Holly stayed with me. (For those thinking of visiting me, I have a queen sized bed for visitors) And Josh came to hang out too. Marques and he are good friends. The first night we hung out and watched a Japanese animated movie called “Spirited Away.” Which I would have to say is now one of my favorite movies. I would recommend it to anyone. I cooked for them. Made baked papaya, vegetables, brownies...a lot of food. I warned you I was turning girly. Marques took a picture of me cooking, maybe it will make his website.The next day we headed out to what is considered the nicest waterfall in all Samoa and some would say the nicest waterfall in all of the South Pacific. We hiked for awhile to try and find the most ancient and largest Polynesian structure (a stone mound), but Bob and Josh and I don’t seem to have the best luck getting to it. The first time we tried, it had rained a ton and a small valley turned into a raging river across the path. This time we just couldn’t remember where it was. Or maybe we saw it and just didn’t realize it. It is covered with a lot of growth being in the jungle and all. It will be the joke here, how we never really reached it all 2 years. So we headed back and went to the waterfall. There’s a nice pool to swim in below it with fresh water prawns and you can jump off the cliffs on the side. We swam around and hung out. Right when it was time to head back, it started POURING rain. So we walked to the road, soaking wet, and just kept walking to my village. I would say it was a good hour long walk absolutely soaking wet in the non-stop rain. It was a ton of fun. And every village we walked by there were a ton of Samoans also out in the rain playing volleyball. Holly wanted to stop and play too, but the rest of us were worried about our cameras.

That evening we had a cross cultural experience. It is normal for Bob and I because we live with a Japanese volunteer (Jaika), Moto. But Holly and Marques haven’t. Moto actually wasn’t even here. The Jaika that lives with Josh, Manabu, came over and brought 2 more of his friends. So we hung out, Bob and I cooked dinner for them all. We looked at pictures and talked about their volunteer experiences versus ours. So, for the Jaika, they are never taught Samoan. They spent 3 months in Japan getting ready to come out here and they learned English. Then they head out to Samoa for 2 years like the PC. And like the PC, they can get sent anywhere around the world. They can request where they want to go, but like us, have no real choice. It’s crazy to think they come out here having just learned English in a country where not everyone speaks English. But they do well. Moto is a great guy. I think he speaks English very well and his Samoan is really getting good. It was just a blast to hang out with them and talk.

Next is New Years. A whole bunch of volunteers are getting together in some beach fales to celebrate the New Year and just hang out before we go back out to our jobs and before school starts up again. It will be nice to see some of the volunteers I haven’t seen since swearing in. Some of the other volunteers are thinking of spending a few days in the training village with their families, and I might head there with them… I really miss hanging out with my brothers playing Speed. Another thing I wanted to do was see where some of my other group lives around the island. I think this is a good time to do it because school doesn’t really start up until the end of January. We’ll see. I think it will be fun to get a little bit of exploring in while I have the chance. Exploring my island and ‘Upolu. As a trainee, we really didn’t have a lot of time to just explore or hang out.

I hope everyone’s holidays were/are well. For those of my family with whom I did chat with on Christmas, I really loved it. Again, I wish I could have talked to you all longer. It made we realize how much I really did miss you and all my friends and family back home. Thank you for being so loving and supportive. It really helps me get through the days when I struggle, to remember that I do have a lot of support and love back home. Some days it is hard being out here, without a phone and a lot of other things. Once I become a part of my village and know people, I think things will be a lot easier. Also when school starts up again I will be busier and not always trying to fill my time. Then I bet I will miss days like now when I really don’t have anything to do, with no places to be. :) It’s always a challenge out here, but always a blast. Until next time: Happy Holidays. Have a great 12th Night.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Manuia le Kirisimasi!

Merry Christmas!
I hope this finds everyone well after the holiday. I had a great holiday. Christmas Eve Bob and I hung out with the Japanese Volunteer, Moto, who lives on the compound with us, eating dinner and laughing at Bob while he washed his laundry using a big bucket and a hammer to stir it in. Good thing too because that water was pretty nasty when he was done. As you can see, I have included a few pictures. Some are of Christmas Eve and the rest are just pictures taken throughout training that I thought were nice pictures. Later Christmas Eve Bob and I ended up watching a movie Moto left us. It was a Japanese Animated movie, Spirited Away. Not bad actually, I liked it.

Christmas Day Bob and I headed over to Josh and La La’s place where we talked with our parents on the phone they have, we are still without a phone. It was nice; I got to chat with a lot of my extended family. It was comforting to know that everyone is still doing the same old thing. It was hard talking to everyone for such a short period of time, I wish we could have chatted a lot longer. Then after that, the 4 of us headed back to my place and we started the chili cook off. I think we were all bias about our chili. Bob and Josh would say theirs was great and that they won and that ours wasn’t chili-esque. La La and I think that ours was the best, different flavors and different ingredients (plus it was the first time the 2 of us had made chili). So there you go. We watched Ghost Busters… Who could ask for a better Christmas? J If I couldn’t be with family, these volunteers are the next closest thing to it. The 4 of us, will be living near each other for the next 2 years (one with La La).

This week I am looking forward to exploring the area a little bit better. I am going on a hike with La La around the water front. Holly is coming out to visit and explore. Then it’s New Years and I’m off to spend that with other volunteers.

I know my last entry didn’t sound too promising, but rest assured I am doing well. It is taking awhile adjusting to the slower pace out here, but I am starting to like it. Sitting around reading, I am really starting to like baking and cooking. I made fudge (which didn’t set well), pineapple jam, peanut butter scones… I’m turning girly. That’s what this country is doing to me. J Cooking, wearing skirts, sewing, who would have guessed. The pace is growing on me. Very laid back. And the people are so hospitable. They take you in as family after just meeting you. I think I will fair well. I don’t start teaching until the end of January, so I have no idea what it will be like yet. I am looking forward to living out here, becoming a part of my village, getting to know the other teachers, and the other volunteers who live out here on this island that I don’t know well yet.
Until next time. –Tala

Fun pictures

Picture 1: Marques and Amos at Thanksgiving. Picture 2: Sapapali'i. The first town missionaries landed, on Savai'i. It's a new church just finished being built. Picture 3: Bob doing laundry Christmas Eve. Picture 4: Hiking around Nu'u Lopa. Picture 5: Bob and Moto Christmas Eve. Picture 5: A tasty starfish. Picture 6: The boat to Manono Island with Karen. Picture 7: The bridge at Lalomauga.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Hey Everyone, I thought an update was in order. I am sure some of you have read how the other PCV's in my group are doing. I think my experiences will be drastically different from theirs from here on out. Like I mentioned before, I am living out in kua. Which means nowhere. There are not some of the things that are in Apia. It won't be a better or a worse experience, just different. For the parents in our group, especially Josh and Bob's, I will try and keep you all up to date on what it is like to live out there. :)

We moved out on Thursday. I am lucky that i live next to someone else and so close (a 10 minute bike ride away) to 2 more volunteers. Laura (La La) and Josh like in another town and Bob and I live in the same house split into 2. I will be getting used to no phone. We don't have a phone, the house used to have one, but they removed the cable before we move in. We might get one, but it takes AWHILE to get phone lines hooked up out there. There isn't internet, (about a 30 minute bus ride away to a dial up connection), no tv's, no restraunts near anywhere.... It's just a different kind of living that I will have to get used to. I can see myself reading a lot. I will have to start liking to cook. I am a good cook, I just don't enjoy doing it as much. I will. I am going to start a garden at the side of my house. Get some composting going, plant some good greens. There are a lack of greens here. For Christmas, the 4 of us are staying out here. We are going to have a chilli cook-off. :) Guys against girls. It will be a good competition. Bob won a chilli cook off in the states, and La La is a good cook and I have a great knack for spices and flavouring... Play some games, watch a movie on someone's labtop. I think it will be one of my favorite Christmas's.

My updates will be fewer. It is hard to get out and update. The computer is slow, dial up and it takes awhile. And my camera is shot. The humidity is finally getting to all of my things. I cannot view any pictures because the screen was broken awhile ago when it was dropped and now the usb cable isn't being recognized. I will have to upload some pictures from someone elses computer around New Years. Sorry, and someday I will get the jump drive in the mail that will make things easier.

I hope you are all well this holiday season. I will try and stay in touch via email too, but it will be slow and sporadic. Feel free to write me letters. I will definatly respond to them, and writing letters will give me something to do. It will be intersting finding new hobbies to keep me busy... :)

Merry Christmas! Happy New Years!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A few pictures

The top photo is of Josh and I killing chickens on the cooking day. We did everything from scratch from killing, cleaning, building the umu to cook it in and cooking it.

The next picture is of the volunteer I will be replacing. Old and new. He's a good guy, too bad he's leaving. But, then if he stayed, I wouldn't have a job... :)

The next picture is the sunrise the day we all went palolo hunting. Beautiful. Islands in the background.

Next picture is of Josh on Thanksgiving day eating a turkey leg. It was nice to eat a lot of food and feel at least a little part of the Thanksgiving traditions.

Next picture is of some in my aiga Samoa (samoan family). Left is Tavita, my 15 year old brother, then my dad Siuleo, then me, then my mom Talasanga, then my 11 year old brother Jason.

Next is of Tavita coming back from our plantation with banana (fa'i) and coconut (popo).

And last picture is of the pig prepared on the cooking day. They cut out it's vocal chords. Cut a whole in the stomach and carefully pulled out the guts, and cut a hole in the butt to drain out all the blood. Then they stuffed it with hot rocks, why the throat is steaming. Then covered the holes with mango leaves, and stuffed a few mango leaves in the pig, then put the pig on the umu. The stuffing part helped the inside of the pig cook as fast as the outside.

I swear in tomorrow morning. I am excited. My principal of my school will be there, my aiga samoa, all the other volunteers... It will be great to finally be sworn in. Then we celebrate and move into our sites the next day. We get our bikes tomorrow. I can't wait to ride it around the island. I have to watch out for dogs though. Maybe keep a stick or pepper spray with me to ward them off.

Hope this finds everyone well during the holidays. I might say some tomorrow after swear in, but I can't promise. Manuia le kirisimasi. (Merry Christmas)

Monday, December 12, 2005

2 days left

Manuia le aso.

I cannot believe that in a few days I will be living out in kua (that's the word the PC use for anywhere rural or basically not in Apia). I am ready to move. We have finished the language test so it seems like everything else is just lesson plans and paperwork, which is important but I think we are all ready to just start already. It can be stressful living out of your bag for 10 weeks in and out of the hotel with the same people 24/7. We were lucky to have such a great group; I never didn't get along with anyone. I have said it before and I will again, I will miss them. They have been like family for the last 10 weeks right after we all left our families at home. I am looking forward to getting to know some more of the current volunteers too. I figure anyone that joins the PC at least has to have a sense of adventure and has to be somewhat fun. :)

It's nice to be done with the village. I wish I could post some pictures, but I usually borrow Marques's jump drive and I didn't catch him in time today to put my pictures on there. My dad is sending one soon, so hopefully my pictures will increase. We left the village early Saturday morning. It was crazy. The whole village seemed to be there saying goodbye. They dressed all the girls up in puletasi's, we all had leis made of candy around our necks. I have never seen grown men cry so much, but all of our fathers were bawling. It is normal for men to cry here. I never once saw my mom in the village cry before, even when I gave her the thank you presents, and she lost it too that morning. My dad lost it. I started crying when my brother Tavita had to leave early to go home and work. I will miss my brothers alot. We were close. Tavita and I talked alot. He's 15 and a good kid. Once my Samoan was better we could chat more. Jason, he's 11, and I played the card game speed alot. Playing Speed with him helped me learn to say, "stop cheating," "I win," and "you liar" really well in Samoan. :) He's a good kid too. I will miss my little 2 year old brother Johnny calling my name (it's Tara in the village, but he pronounced it Ta a ), and running over to give me high fives. And ALL the PCT's loved my 5 year old brother Gaolo. He always seemed to know where we were and was there. We think my shoes had a tracking device on them that he followed. And he looked a lot like Curious George, until my dad shaved his head.

I move out to my site on Thursday. I am looking forward to it. Though I am a little apprehensive. We swear in, start and then have like a month off until school starts. School starts end of January. It will be fun trying to think of things to do, bike around Savai'i, get my diving certificate, maybe try and start a new hobby... but then the holidays happen too, so it will go by quickly. I don't think I will go back to my village for Christmas, I will probably go to Apia somewhere to visit other PC friends. Who knows though really, it's still a few weeks away. Though it is interesting to hear all the Christmas music, see all the sales, and not have any cold weather (snow I am used to not having being from the Northwest), but no fir trees anywhere. They do have a few plastic trees decorated here and there. But they do have the Christmas lights. I miss seeing all the lights dad used to put up on the fence going down the driveway. I was thinking it would be hard being away on the holidays, but Thanksgiving wasn't as hard as I thought it was. We hung out with other volunteers and had fun.

Today we had a session on nutrition in Samoa. A lot of Samoan foods are very high in starch, taro, yams, banana (plantains), breadfruit. And the diet here isn't too varied, so we learned different alternatives and how to start our own gardens. I don't think I will have the means to do that where I will be living, not a lot of area for it, but we will see. It's harder to get fresh foods and veggetables on Savai'i. I just have to make sure I don't eat too much candy while in service. That will be hard. :) But we got some great recipes. I guess I will have to learn to enjoy cooking. One thing that is definatly different here is the way we do laundry. Almost all volunteers, unless living near a laundromat do their laundry in buckets. We have detergent best in cold water, because that's all you have. They soak in the bucket for awhile, then soak in fresh water and then hang to dry on lines. If you take the clothes down before dry and put them in a drawer or don't wear them for a few days, the mold sets in. So we do laundy a lot and it takes awhile. You get used to it. And there are different levels of mold here. We always do the smell test. :) Yeah, this t-shirt smells less moldy, this one is the one I am wearing today. :)

I think the swearing in party will be fun. All the volunteers are there, and 2 family members from the village are invited too. It will be fun. Anyways, until the next time. I will probably write once more before I move away to kua.

Manuia le afiafi.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) Day

I wanted to post another quick update on how things are going in the village. We are in Apia all day long today for our language test. I had mine second, so I have all day to do whatever I want. Which is a nice change from being in training for so long. :) We also have to buy thank you gifts for our families today as well.

Things are well. There has been some things in the village that has made it a little stressfull. The village has some organizational problems for scheduling events. Our fiafia (dance thing) we put on for the village was cancelled and then now we are doing it again tomorrow. But nothing too big. It will just be nice to finally move to our sites. I can't believe that is in a week! I am looking forward to moving out there. I really like the people in our group (we keep hearing good stuff about us). But I am also looking forward to moving out there with Bob and Josh. I think living with (in one house split into two) Bob will be great. He is really funny and has a great sense of laid back humor. So we will keep each other sane there. And Josh is a great friend too. The three of us usually hang out together a lot anyways, so it will be fun. But I will also miss seeing the rest of the trainees (soon to be volunteers) all the time. We have some great friendships. Thank goodness for email and telefones. (oops Samoan spelling is affecting my english)... I will miss the many chats I have with Marques and Sara. They are the other Christians in my group and it's been great having them to talk with. I think I have been a Christian longer than them, but it's so great to have them to talk with and really work struggles in being a trainee out with. I will miss Marques and Sara a lot when I go to Savai'i, they are staying on 'Upolu. Really, I will miss all the other trainees that will stay on this main island. We really get along well and have a good friendship with the group going. It will be nice to start working, but hard to leave that support and friendship.

So I had to spend a night in Apia the other night. I have giardia. Yeah, that's a lot of fun. But then I also got a flew that made me really sick to my stomach. It was horrible, and that day was one of the hottest days I have experienced in Samoa so far. So it was nice to get out of the village and let things in my body calm down a little bit. And get some good sleep in the hotel (although my air conditioner broke...) :) In the village it's hard to sleep solidly through the night. Dogs bark like crazy and they just go off and then all the dogs on the road have to join in and they don't stop for like 20 minutes. And every morning at 5am the bell rings to wake the village up. But I am getting used to it. To the bugs and they heat. I am trying to. :) After today, language classes are over. I took the test, I won't know how i did for awhile. We head back to the village today.

Then we have our dance thing for the village on Friday and move back to Apia Saturday. I can't believe it is so soon. It seems like yesterday we all stepped off the plane. This is some cool facts. The last PCSamoa group to have all the volunteers swear in and not have someone go home in training I think they said was group 66. Anyways, it's been awhile and no one from our group had gone home yet. That would be cool. And I don't know if there's been a PCSamoa group where no one has gone home for the whole 2 years, but that would be cool if we were it. :)

I will post some pictures when we get back on Saturday or at least before swearing in on Wednesday.

Manuia le aso.