Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pictures of the 4th and other adventures

Pete being buried in the sand.

Erin and Selima on the beach.

Derek, John and Bob hanging out listening to music on the 4th.

Clair, BOb and I on the 4th

Our makeshift BBQ pit on the 4th

The 4th and other Adventures

Alright, so my life has finally slowed down a little and I find myself with time on my hands yet again to sit and contemplate my service in Samoa, or better yet to use that time to finally type up a few emails to my patient friends and to type out a blog update.

While my last few entries have stated things like, “it’s been busy and I am glad to finally have a break,” I realized that I was not feeling refreshed from these “breaks.” When I am hanging out with friends and entertaining people at our place or just chilling in Apia, it still seems to wear on me. What I came to realize de-stresses me the most is just having some time alone in my house with no homework to grade, places to be or lessons to prepare. It is when I can sit for a few hours and read or sing or draw that I feel like I am refreshed and ready to take on another week of school. Since friends have come and gone often these last few weeks, I have not really had that opportunity. It has been a blast seeing so many people and doing so many fun things, but I am ready for school to start back up again and to get back into the day to day life out in my village and on my compound.

Since it seems a lot has happened these last few days, I will do a day by day account again to catch everyone up to date on my latest adventures.

Friday June 30th
I will start with the first day of our break from school. Friday was a cleaning day at school. This next coming week was an All Methodist Conference for all pastors, wives and students in the Methodist school system. So school was put on hold for a week. Since Sara is leaving soon and Erin was visiting her today and staying the night, I decided to head into the wharf and then take a bus out to Sara’s village and stay the night as well. I did not realize it then, but this was my last night with Sara in her village. I will go there again, but this was the last time it would be with her in her house. It is a little sad for me to look back and realize that. I will miss Sara a lot.

That night Erin and I helped Sara write her essay papers. Living in Samoa for over 2 years now, Sara wanted help with her English. It was nice to have Erin there helping too because my English sentence structure is going down hill as well. Sometimes Samoan surpasses English. :) We cooked a nice dinner and sat on her floor together and ate it while just talking with Erin about life as a volunteer and life in Samoa. She might be interested in joining the PC and we wanted to help her make the best decision for herself. I hope that we helped. Erin said she liked getting the perspective from a volunteer leaving in less than 3 weeks and from one who has still only been in country for 9 months.

Saturday – Monday July 1st – July 3rd
Early Saturday morning Erin and I hoped on a bus and headed back to the wharf. The bus was crazy crowded. We were standing in the aisle the whole time because all laps already had people in them. Bags were in the aisles; people were hanging out of the side; it was fun. Erin headed back to Apia for a few more interviews and I headed back out to my village. When I got back to the compound I realized that because everyone was in town for the conference, there wasn’t really going to be anyone living there that week. It was a nice quiet evening.

Sunday morning I got up early and headed by bus over to Clair’s house for the day. She was feeling sick and I thought she could use a nice afternoon. We sat and chatted for awhile. It ended up being a day of comforts, things that reminded us of the comforts of home; we made hash browns with onions for breakfast, watched a few episodes of Friends, listened to Live, and made her famous pineapple chiffon pie. After awhile I could tell she was getting tired and so I got on the last bus back to my village, which Bob was on, and I passed out pretty early.

All day Monday was spent getting ready for a fun 4th of July get together at Bob and my place. We had arranged earlier in the week for Savai’i volunteers to get together at our place and have BBQ on the 4th. I headed into Salelologa and bought 15 lbs of chicken and the makings for a pasta salad for everyone. Bob bought hotdogs and other food necessities. When we got back, since it was a super hot day, we washed all of our lavalava’s used as sheets, all pillowcases, chair covers… anything that could use a wash in a bucket got it and we laid all of our cushions out in the sun for a good bug killing. If people were going to spend the night here, I wanted them to not get bitten by any bed bugs.

Tuesday - Wednesday July 4th – July 5th
Bob headed into town early in the morning to do some last minute shopping and to meet up with a few volunteers. I waited for Sara to arrive to we could start on the chicken. When Ethan arrived he built a makeshift BBQ pit from wire and metal lying around the compound. I must say I was impressed with his abilities. The pit was up and burning. Sara and I boiled the chicken first and then put it on the grill. It was nice. All we were missing were fireworks, but I will just have to wait 2 years for that. The rest of the evening we hung out. There was a good group of people that turned out. A few people couldn’t stay the night because of school the next day. Even a few JICA showed up. I think we showed them a good 4th party.

Wednesday morning we all got up early and tried to head to the wharf to meet the trainees at 9 who were coming over for their volunteer visits. We met a few slight snags along the way, but still made it on time. We barely missed the bus that left around 8am. Since Bob and I don’t have a phone we were going to go to one of the other houses on the compound and use their phone to call a cab, but no one was home. So we walked to the little store across the street, but their phone was out. We just started walking. We live off of the main street on Savai’i and there is a cab booth near the three-corners of the main road. It is about a half hour walk there so we just started walking. After awhile we reached another store and asked them if they had a phone, they did and it was working. So we called the cab company from there and arrived at the wharf about 3 minutes before the boat with the trainees arrived.

Bob was matched with Emilio. They headed to the market to do some shopping and I headed back to the compound. That afternoon we took Emilio to the beach near our house and swam in the ocean and sat around chatting for awhile. I made up some tortillas for everyone and we ended the night with a Japanese movie about Samurais, Zatoichi. I think Emilio had a great afternoon and Bob and he had a good time hanging out.

Thursday July 6th
In the morning Bob made some great hash browns and omelets for Emilio and me. One nice thing about having the trainees stay with you is that you know they are missing some foods from home so we tried to make some great meals while they were here.

We had planned to meet up with Ethan and Dane at the waterfall near our place so we eventually headed out to meet them. Since the time was in between buses, we ended up walking to the waterfall in the heat of the day. It was about a 45 minute walk and we were so happy to get to the cool water. This leads me my story where I messed up my back. Looking back I realize I should not have jumped off the side of the cliff into the water. It was too high for me and I just shouldn’t have jumped. I climbed to a side of the cliff over the water and jumped in. I didn’t hit bottom or a rock or anything like that, but when I hit the water, my butt definitely hit first and I felt waves of pain shoot up my back upon impact. When I came up out of the water my back was seriously in pain. At first I couldn’t stand up out of the water, but eventually I was able to and it seemed like standing straight up hurt less than sitting down.

After awhile it was time to leave and my back wasn’t feeling any better, so I had help getting out of the falls area and went home to lie down and give my back a rest. I forgot that tonight was a special girl’s night. La La and I quote the movie Say Anything a lot and Clair had never seen it. We had finally gotten our hands on it and had planned on watching it tonight. When they arrived we made a quick dinner and watched it. Clair liked it. About 3/4 way into the movie the power went out and it started pouring rain. La La and Clair don’t like to bike home while it is pouring so we sat and chatted for awhile waiting for it to let up and for the power to come back on. It didn’t; it actually came back on later the next morning. While they were getting ready to bike back we felt an earthquake. It was small, but still substantial.

Friday July 7th
That morning when I woke up, my back was still in pretty bad shape and some good bruising was starting to form on my legs and butt. So I headed out to the wharf on one of the early buses and called our doctor. She was rightly upset with me for jumping and wanted to look at me to make sure everything was still in order. So I headed in on the next boat with most of the trainees and a few other volunteers. I chatted with a few of them about their visits; they all seemed to have a great time.

When I got into Apia they took me up to the hospital and got an ultra-sound just to make sure that I hadn’t really damaged anything inside. It all looked good, so next they took me to the doctors so he could check my spine and look for anything else. The consensus was that I just really bruised myself well and maybe tore a few things inside around my right lower back side. I was ordered to take it easy and to never again jump off of cliffs (which I won’t and will never encourage again). Rosa was great to me that night. She hung out with me, got dinner and we sat in the lounge and watched a girly movie. I passed out early that night, although laying down hurts more than any other position, so I didn’t sleep all that well.

Saturday - Sunday July 8th – 9th
Saturday the 8th had been planned for awhile as the PC 4th of July party at Lalomanu. I had already booked a beach fale with Erin at the place we were all staying, so I decided to go out there for the day and evening anyways and hang out on the beach, eat and take it easy.

Erin and I got out there in the early afternoon right as the food was getting ready. There were hotdogs, hamburgers, salads, apple pie… all the good food you love about the 4th. A ton of volunteers and staff showed up, and the training group came out for a little while until they had to go back out to their village. It was fun chatting with a few of them and swimming at one of the nicest beaches on Upolu. After dinner on Saturdays the resort throws a fiafia for everyone. It was pretty good. They had a girl spin fire balls. It was similar to one of the traditional dancing in Samoa, the Siva Afi or Fire Dance, when a guy spins batons lit on fire. It is pretty impressive. They had her and a guy doing the traditional one as well. There was dancing afterwards and some karaoke. Bob got up and sang a few Johnny Cash songs. It was a fun night.

The next morning we waited until after the traditional to’ona’i was served and then we piled into vans and headed back into Apia. The rest of the evening was fun. I went out to dinner with another volunteer to Nameste, a great Nepalese restaurant just outside of town. I love the food there and it is relatively cheap. Then we headed back to the office and watched the endings of The De Vinci Code that a couple of volunteers were watching. It’s not a bad movie.

Monday July 10th
Monday was a funny day. It started out when I met Erin in the office in the morning and we went out to breakfast. We had made a few plans for the next couple of days and were discussing the logistics of everything over food. As it turns out nothing we planned that day quite worked out like we wanted, but it still was entertaining. The plan was to have Erin and I head out for the 2pm boat back to Savai’i. She had a few more interviews to do in Sara’s village, so we were going to rent a car when we got to Salelologa. We had originally planned on staying at my place Monday, heading to Sara’s village on Tuesday morning, and then I stayed with Sara while Erin headed back to Apia Tuesday afternoon. Well, Monday morning Sara called and asked if we could come out tonight instead of tomorrow. She is getting ready to leave her village and things are just getting busy out there for her. We agreed.

Around noon Erin, me and 2 other volunteers got ready to head back out to the wharf to go to Savai’i. At first we thought we had missed the bus to the wharf but it was running late. About 3/4 of the way to the wharf the skies opened up and it started pouring harder than I have seen it pour in awhile. It was similar to the weather we get around cyclone season. The 2pm boat is not enclosed. If it is raining you will get wet. Since one of the volunteers traveling with us had his computer and we weren’t really in the mood to get too soaked, we decided to just wait until the next boat which did have an inside closed area. The rain calmed down and we hung out while we waited for 2 hours until the next boat, which is the last boat back to Savai’i. When we got off the boat, Erin headed to the car rental place and I had a note from Sara to pick up bread. The stores were closed and Erin came back to the office without a car. The rental place was closed. I heard later it had been closed all day. Since it was the last boat of the day, no more buses would be arriving. We picked up the phone to call the other rental places around, but the phone lines were dead and the line has been acting up ever since. Eventually we weighed the options and realized there was nothing we really could do, not even call Sara and let her know we weren’t coming. After awhile we finally made it back to my place.

From my place I tried to call Sara, but the phones were down at our place too. So Erin and I scrapped going out to Sara’s one last time for interviews and made dinner and headed to bed early.

So, that is it for my latest adventures. As I type this is it Tuesday. When Erin and I headed into the wharf Sara was there, phone lines were still acting up, and Erin had to get on the boat to go back to Apia. She is leaving on Thursday back to the states. It was a little bitter sweat for me. I have really gotten to know her well these last few weeks, months. She has a personality very similar to mine and I will miss her, although she promises to come back out and visit in a year or so. (Erin I will hold you to that).

School starts back up again tomorrow. We don’t have anymore breaks coming for awhile, so I will be busy with classes. Tests start up again at the end of this week as well. I can’t really say what my plans are for the next few weeks. I would like to go into town and see Sara one last time before she leaves for good and I would like to get a few things done around here as well. I find that things are more interesting if you don’t make too many plans and wait to see what happens. But, I will definitely head in to say goodbye to Sara and Ethan. As for my back, it is still hurting a little bit and I have spasms every now and then, but nothing I can’t handle.
Until next time…Don’t jump off cliff edges.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quick Update

Hey everyone. Sorry it has been awhile. It will be a little while longer until I get an update out. This last week has been busy. We had a great 4th, I will say more later and add a few pictures, Bob and I had a trainee come stay with us for a few days, I hurt myself pretty badly jumping in water near a waterfall, long story. I am heading out to stay at some nice beach fales this weekend and I will be back home maybe Tuesday. Then I will type out a nice detailed account of my last week.

Until then…