Thursday, June 29, 2006

Hiking and Visitors

Friday, June 23rd
Friday I headed into Apia for a few PC meetings and to go hiking. There was not a lot of other PC in town. I ended up making dinner with a couple of other volunteers that night and then headed to a free concert in the center of Apia. 2 big name Samoan bands were playing: Mr T and Zipso as well as a few other semi big-named bands in Australia. I thought that it would be fun to hear live the bands that I hear on the buses every day. It wasn’t the best sound quality or display, so I ended up leaving early and hanging out with a couple of other volunteers that were in town. We had way more fun than I ever would have had at the concert.

Saturday June 24th
My alarm went off at 7am to get up and get ready to go hiking with Derek. After hitting my alarm a couple of times, I thought maybe it would be better to go to the meetings first and then go hiking in the afternoon… at the hottest time of the day.

The meetings ended around noon and Derek and I started getting ready for the hike. We wanted to hike to Lake Lanoto’o or Goldfish Lake. In Lonely Planet it talked about the lake being a decent hike and a little-known spot. It is known for the wild goldfish, yes wild, that gather around the shore. We decided on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because then we could also feed the goldfish some bread when we got there.

We caught a cab to the middle of the dirt road that the trail started on because we weren’t sure exactly where it started. After walking up the wrong hillside, as we were looking out over the other hills, we realized it was the next one over. So we walked back down again and started out about an hour later. The hike was amazing. There were so many parts of it that at times it seemed like we were walking though Botanical Gardens and not in Samoa at all. There were pine trees, which I just had to smell. I want to go back there and just sit underneath them for awhile. At one point Derek said it felt like he was hiking through Vermont. The trail was red clay and the hiking was muddy. But, it was a blast.

When we finally got to the lake it was a lot bigger than I was expecting and beautiful. There was an eerie mist over it. If you have ever seen the movie It, the lake reminded me of that lake in the movie, although nothing scary ever happened. We waded into the water when we first got there and felt something on our feet. When we looked down we saw tons of goldfish that looked a little like sucker fish swimming around our legs and feet. They were hungry. So, we climbed out and sat on a log over the water and threw bread crumbs to them. It was nuts. There were a ton of them! Hundreds of them! :) We sat there and fed them for awhile, and eventually broke out the sandwiches and cookies.

Eventually it was time to go back. We hadn’t arranged for a taxi to pick us up at the end of the trail head, so we started to walk down the dirt road hoping to catch a ride when we met up with the main road. There were so many dogs! Let me say that dogs in Samoa are not like in the states. People do not keep them as pets; they keep them as guard dogs. Generally, in Samoa if a dog starts coming up to me, I pick up a rock. Chances are they are not just curious. At one point there were 6 dogs surrounding us. I had a few rocks in my hand and Derek had a big stick. We walked slowly out of that one. They just kept coming. I remember once we were walking and Derek told me not to look down a driveway because there were 5 dogs standing there looking at us, 3 in the hedge next to us, 2 in the road in front of us and we could see far enough down the road to see at least 3 more houses with a few dogs in front. My adrenaline was definitely running. We were so lucky though. A van pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride into town. It was a Mormon family living in Apia. They have been here for a few years and are getting ready to go back home soon. Although it was fun to chat with them, we were so tired. I think I pretty much passed out walking to dinner that night I was so tired.

Sunday, June 25th
Sunday morning I headed back to Savai'i on the last boat with Ethan and Sara. I was starting to feel sick and did not really want to go back, but I knew a girl named Erin, who is friends with one of the newbie’s and is here studying gender roles in Samoa, was coming over that evening for a few days.

When I finally got back to my house she was there. We stayed up awhile chatting and headed to bed early. She said she was looking forward to staying here because she really wanted a few days of just chilling. With her running around Samoa doing work, she hadn’t had a lot of relaxing days yet.

Monday – Wednesday June 26th to June 28th
These last couple days have really flown by. Monday was Bob’s birthday. I baked him Oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies. A few other volunteers, Amos and John, came out to visit with a bag of ava and chicken to cook up. Moto stopped by with some Sake and a gift for Bob. And then we watched the movie he requested my father to send, Don’t tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Overall I think that he had a great birthday. Erin and I went to the beach that is near our house that day and spent the afternoon swimming in the surf. It was nice to do something other than the usual. I have really been feeling the need to get out more and go hiking more.

That next day Bob, Erin and I headed out to the waterfall that is near our house. It hasn’t rained here in awhile so there was no water flowing at the fall, but the lake was full and beautiful because it is filled with a fresh water spring. We swam around for awhile and then decided to feed the crayfish in the lake some stale crackers we brought. They were huge! Some of them I tried to catch with my hands, but I am not quite the natural hunter I thought I was. At one point I was dropping a lot of crumbs into one hole because I thought I saw a huge crayfish down there. After a little while I saw a head poke out, but it was an eel! It was huge. We saw it come out and chase one of the crawfish. I wasn’t expecting that, but it was interesting to see the fresh water eel.

When we got back to our house that evening, there was a game of soccer that some of the younger kids were playing. Erin played soccer in college and I like it, so we decided to go join the game. We had a blast. We ran around for an hour with those kids.

The next day, Wednesday, we really wanted to go for a good hike, so Erin and I headed back out to the waterfall area, but hiked up to the mound there. Pulemelei mound is Polynesia’s largest structure and one of the oldest. It is a massive pile of rocks that you can hike to the top of. It is a pyramid that measures 61 to 50 meters at the base and is 12 meters high. It was fun. I have tried to go there before, but took the wrong path when the trails veer. We sat on top for awhile and had some masipopo and peanut butter. It was a nice hike.

When we got back to my house there was a knock at the door inviting Erin and I to play soccer again that evening. Once again it was a blast and a lot more kids joined in this game.

So, now you are caught up with my long and yet fun week. This coming week I have no school. I want to go visit Sara at least one last time before she leaves her village, maybe do something fun on the 4th of July, or maybe to head to my training village for a few days. It will be yet another fun and fast week, but I am enjoying the change of pace. I was getting tired of the same routine every week. I definitely want to get out more and hike. I have already planned one in town with Erin before she leaves and a couple more with Derek and John. It will be nice to get out and explore more. I sure do miss backpacking in the states in the mountains; this will be nice to get back into while I am here.

Until next time…


At 2:10 PM, Anonymous Dad said...

Wow, sounds like one busy week. You are definitily getting out of the routine of just teaching, biking to the PC office, etc.

Have a fun week off and a fun 4th. Does the PC do anything special for the 4th of July?

Love, Dad

At 4:38 AM, Blogger Marques Stewart said...

I'm glad you FINALLY found the star mound!

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the type of dogs that are around pepper spray, if it's available, might be a good thing to have.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Julya Steyh said...

I know how to make pepper spray here, I could try it. Another PC here uses it...

At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Julya,
I'm glad you are getting a break. Happy 4th! We had the pleasure of seeing your parents last weekend for Nate's graduation party. We tried to talk them in to coming even for a little while to family camp this summer. We'll see.....
Nate's off this weekend to Bainbridge Island visiting the family campers who live there (mainly Bombardiers) and Rachel is starting her 2nd week of a 3-week trip to Europe along the Mediterranean Coast.
Take care.
Love, Kathleen


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