Wednesday, May 30, 2007

SAF Fashion Awards

The Fashion Show models.

Those of us that helped out with the VIP area: Jame (PC), Emma (AusAid) and me.

Once again I am posting about an event that i attended the previous year. It feels strange to be on the downward slope of my time here. As I mentioned earlier and a friend pointed out was a funny perspective, "I will be done soon, only 7 more months... Crazy how time flies." Done soon = 7 months... :)

But, yes. The Fashion Awards you ask. Last year around this time Sara and Ethan roped me in to helping out SAF (Samoa Aids Foundation) throw their 2nd Annual Fashion Awards to raise awareness and support for the organization. Since I helped out last year, my name was on the contact list this year. I showed up day of, since it was the day after I got back from Vanuatu. They told me i would be serving food and to come back later in the evening. Since I had helped out last year, I guessed that they probably weren't as prepared as they appeared so I stayed around and offered my services. I was put to use helping Tim build the stage. After a few hours I was exhausted and needed a break before the event.

I ended up helping usher in the VIP and sponsors since that is what i did last year. I knew what to expect and was not as supprised or thrown off as a few were when it all started to get crazy. But, in the end it all worked out and I got to sit and chill while I watched the show. It wasn't as exciting as it was last year. I think it's because I know most of the people and it was very similar to the year before. I met the lady who designs Tav clothes. They are amazing dresses that cost a lot in the states and France, based in the Cook Islands and also sold here in Samoa. I am glad to say that I helped out, it was fun, and now I am done. Back to Avanoa Tutusa stuff and school.

Below are a few shots I liked, and since the internet connection is fast right now, I decided to post.
Manase at sunset.
Me teaching my Tech 1 class. Look what a real lab it finally is starting to look like!
My year 13 class. The 2 girls are Togipau and Fale (who I am helping).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Vanuatu Pics

This island is the island from the movie South Pacific. As seen from the beach on Nguna island.

The "roads" on Nguna Island.

The view from the beach where I stayed on Nguna Island. Not a bad view...

The only transport to the island is in a small fishing boat. It can get very crowded.

The islands in the background are all apart of Vanuatu. Beautiful view! (Once again, Nguna's View).

Port Vila from the harbor

A few of the Ni-Vanuatu at the Kava bar. Looks like the same food as in Samoa...

Vanuatu Pics

A kava bar in Port Vila.

Kustom dancing. This is called the snake dance. I watched it with some other PC staff who were in Vanuatu at the same time for a conference.

The market in town.

Sunset in the harbor at Port Vila. The picture is taken from the island in the harbor looking towards the city.

A few PC Vanuatu. It was the girl's birthday and the guys surprised her with a chocolate cake and a "septor."

This is a picture from Fiji. So, now I can say that I have been here. The mountains near the airport at sunrise. We had a 5 hour layover in Fiji.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Some of you might read the heading to this blog and ask yourself, "where in the WORLD is Vanuatu?" Well, I can help you with that question a little. It is in the South Pacific along with Samoa. It is situated between Fiji and New Caledonia (and if you don't know where that is, it's near New Zealand.) I came here for a weeklong vacation since I had a week off from school. PC are in this country as well, so I thought the first thing I should do was notify the Country Desk that I was in country like all good volunteers should do (those of you who are PCVs are probably rolling your eyes at me right now). But, seriously, there is no bond stronger than that of another volunteer even in another country. And, they live in the country so they know the place (hopefully) and are probably just as eager as the rest of us to show another volunteer how they have it worse off than you (something we all try and prove to each other).

So, I came in on the same flight as PC Samoa staff and was whisked away to my hotel, where I promptly ran into 2 volunteers here (one is an Australian Aid the other PC). I found my way down to the office where they furnished me with my mandatory life jacket and mosquito net and I was set. Waiting around in the office for 20 minutes I started chatting with a trainee who mentioned some volunteers were having lunch down at a local PC hangout in Vila (everyone calls the capital city Vila instead of Port Vila). I had lunch and hung out with 3 volunteers the rest of the afternoon.

That night I met 2 other couples also staying at my hotel. One couple is from New Zealand the other is from England. We all clicked fairly well and headed off for dinner and our first experience with Vanuatu kava. If we had known anything about Vanuatu kava, we would have known NOT to eat before we drank it... lesson learned. In Vanuatu the kava is a lot stronger than in Samoa (where we call it 'ava). In Samoa volunteers can drink a whole bucket of the stuff, in Vanuatu one cup is enough. It is known for being the strongest kava in the south pacific.

The next day I met up again with the other 2 volunteers staying at my hotel and we hung out for the rest of the day. We had lunch, went all over the city trying to find kava packaged so I could bring some back to the volunteers in Samoa, and just had a blast. The PC had to run to I chatted with the Aus Aid the rest of the day. That night we went out for kava. We started off fairly early and had a few cups, then ate dinner. Back at the hotel we met up again with the 2 couples and the other volunteer and sat around chatting and watching tvs most memorable movie quotes (playing on the tv).

After saying goodbye to the other 2 couples who were travelling to other islands or heading back home, I was invited by the Aus Aid to visit the island he volunteers on, Nguna. Since I didn't really have the money to head to Tanna (where the volcano is) and wanted to do something I little less touristy, I agreed. He lives off the north side of Efate (where Vila is). It was a really fun couple of days. 2 other PC live there as well. The first night we all hung out and chatted over a fire on the beach right in front of their place. I stayed at a cute little bungalo a few houses away. The lady that owned the place was so nice, she gave me a present when I left (a purse).

The next day we all went snorkelling on what I would say is the most beautiful reef I have ever seen. Tons of different colors of coral, millions of fish, giant clams, turtles. It was a little rough since the tide was coming in, but it was definitly worth it.

And now I am back in Vila. I would say this trip has been great. Ni-Vanuatu (locals, or ni-van) are really similar to Samoa. They are friendly, treat everyone like family... Their houses are different, not the open fales, but more thatched or tin. They speak Bislama which is like pidgeon talk, so it's easy to pick up... though I prefer Samoan. I will post some amazing pictures when I get back to Samoa tomorrow. I know i am lucky to be able to travel here and see these beautiful islands while i am close, although living in a south pacific island sort of kills your desire to visit all of them. Vanuatu was nice because it's such a volcano country. Every island has craters or active volcanos on them.

Until next time...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cinco de Mayo shots

A few of the volunteers at Lusia's Lagoon Fales (Laura, John, Josh and Dylan)

Ray chatting with mom and dad.

A row of some of the guys that came: Vik, Derek (Tel as we call him), Tim, Josh, Dane and Sita

Okay, also not taken from the Cinco de Mayo day, but one of my favorite shots

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pics of Working around the House

Dad holding one of the sheep down. (See my posting below on why and what we were doing at the sheep pen).

Trying to fix the pipe that is never fixed. 2 trips to the hardware store later, it was fixed! Thanks dad.

Making a previous attempt at fixing the pipe more solid. Maybe now it won't break every night when the dogs and pigs and chickens run around the place.

Okay. So this isn't a working around Samoa shot, but I really liked this shot of the boat in the rain.

Detailed account of the Parents Visit

(Samoans practicing the Longboat competition coming up during Independence Day - June 1st)

With all of the pictures I have been posting, I thought I would write a nice update too as to what it was my parents were up to all that they did and saw while here visiting me.

When they first arrived in country on the same plane as Marques’ mom, we checked into a hotel in Apia and stayed there for 3 days. We visited Robert Louis Stevenson’s Museum and house (pictures below), went out to my training village, spent an afternoon on the beach at Lalomanu (one of the nicest beaches in Samoa), shopped at the local fruit, vegetable and crafts markets, and ate at many restaurants and visited with many volunteers. While in country they met every volunteer in my group but John, who had dengue, so dad opted out in meeting him.

On Cinco de Mayo we headed over to Savai’i and spent a little time with some volunteers who were having a fun potluck at Lusia’s Beach Lagoon. We ate some food, chatted with a few more of the volunteers and then eventually headed back to my place. The first night on Savai’i we just tried to get situated. Dad and mom emptied out everything they had brought for me and I started to put together some of the things I wanted them to take back with me. I had wanted them to head to the beach near my place while they were visiting, but Savai’i decided it hadn’t had enough of the rainy season and so it never really did break long enough for us to go on a walk down there.

They headed to church with me on Sunday and got the whole experience. The pastor even said a few words of welcome to them in English and he read the versus from the bible in English as well. Laupama and Viliamu invited us back to their place for to’ona’i and we sat and chatted with them for a long time after the meal. Mom had 3 puletasi’s made for her from the faletua (pastor’s wives) and dad had 1 shirt made for him.

They came to classes with me Monday and Tuesday. Dad wanted to teach the students, but they were shy to ask him questions. He actually was a little distracting in my classes. :) In one class they got on the computers and used the typing tutors. One of the pastor’s - Aufata invited my parents for dinner Monday night (he is the head of the tech department). Dad and he really clicked and dad enjoyed a few more afternoons in the wood shop area of the tech school with him, just puttering around. We also got out to the waterfall near my place one of the afternoons though the waterfall wasn’t “running.”

I think of the fun days they enjoyed was heading out to the one of only 2 sheep farms in all of Samoa. The Ministry of Agriculture is trying to start sheep farms around the country to help sustainability, but the family didn’t know very much about how to take care of them. Since my parents currently raise sheep (though not like they used to) another volunteer had asked if they could come out to the house and show the family how to care for the sheep. Dad showed them how to trim the hooves, told them how much salt to give them and what kind… It was pretty fun.

On Tuesday we started to drive around the island. We spent the night in Beach Fales around Savai'i. The first night was in Manase at Vacations, not bad, but it rained a lot. The second was at Satuiatua Beach Fales, really nice and it didn’t rain during the day or evening but it started POURING in the morning. At those fales a group of volunteers who were biking around the island and were staying with a nearby volunteer, headed down to the fales for a visit.

While driving around, dad really wanted to drive down any roads I had not been on yet. Since Savai'i has about 3 roads, there really weren’t any. There was one dead-end road I hadn’t been on yet, so dad headed down there. It was fun. We spent our last night on Savai'i back on the compound. I wish it had been another night after that, but I had already booked our boat pass for the car, something you have to do in advance here. We had dinner at Laupama’s and dad spent the day around my house fixing everything. He only needed to make 3 trips to the hardware store. As we were leaving the 3rd time one of the guys on the floor let us know they closed at 4pm. :) Nothing changes from the states to here. He really helped a lot though, he installed a new light fixture in my bathroom, and fixed the ongoing pipe problems I have been having, and put slime in my bike tires. I am set!

Once back on Upolu we had troubles confirming our reservations at Aggie’s Lagoon Resort and spent much time on the phone to Travelocity’s help desk. One evening dad and I picked up Bryan from my group and we headed to Sanapu-tai to Virgin Cove for dinner at the fales there. Bryan and I were supposed to go there in training for a drop off day, and we skipped out and promised to go back together. A year and a half later, we finally made it. It was a nice dinner. The customer service was amazing. Bryan wanted a vegetarian meal and they knew right away what it was! I was pretty impressed. Our last 2 nights we spent at the Aggie’s Resort near the wharf. It is one of the higher end resorts and definitely worth it. The food was amazing, we got to rent jet ski’s, swim in a pool!, I got a massage… it was fun to feel like a tourist on vacation for awhile. Though, I did run into a few people I know around the country.

They finally headed out last Monday. I was sad to see them go, but I had to get back to school. With the death of the Head of State, things would be shutting down soon and I wanted to get all my stuff and get back to Apia before the boats stopped running. Now I am in town and getting ready to head out tomorrow to Vanuatu for a week. I am REALLY excited to go. It is going to be a nice vacation. I don’t really have a lot planned; I just know I wanted to head there for a week during the school break. I promise to keep everyone updated on my happenings throughout this next week.
Dad on the balcony at Aggie Greys watching the lake form in the background from the heavy rain.
Me and Bob... Love you and Miss you Bob! You are as close to a brother as you can get.
Mom in the amazing gardens at Aggie Greys.

Mom cuddled up on the wonderfully comforable beds at Aggies. I think it was worth it just for the beds. The tv and air condinitioning helped though. :) Sorry mom, but i love this picture.

Until next time… enjoy the pictures I will try to continue to post.

More Parents pictures

Some pictures from my parents travels. In no particular order to their trip.

When we were in Savaii dad and I wanted to go to the Canopy walk in Falealupo (the end of the world, since it's the last most Western spot in the world before the International Date line). It was cool. Set above the rain forest, all of the proceeds go to the village. At the end of the bridge there was a tree house we climbed the stairs to the top of. 200 feet high set in a 160 year old Banyan tree.

Dad and his song book at church. Notice the white attire. Laupama made mom and I matching puletasi's for church.

And here are the matching puletasi and shirt that Siniva made my parents. Don't they look cute?

Mom with one of my counterparts, Lailing. Lailing is from Singapore and is married to a Samoan. She is training to take over my year 13 class when I leave.

Me sitting outside my place in my hammock that dad set up. While he was setting it up I think every child on the compound and maybe the west side of the island gathered around to watch dad set up this crazy looking thing. They laughed even harder when they saw me climb into it.

Parents Visit!

Here are a few pictures from my parents visit. I will continue to post more this week, as the internet connection has been slow lately.

Dad fresh off the plane at the airport.

A nice black and white pic of mom at dinner with Apia Harbor in the backdrop.

We took a tour of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum which is just a tour of his original house while he lived and died in Samoa. Most of the furniture is a recreation, but it was still cool to walk through his old place and see how it was laid out. The picture above is of his den or study. It's a real fire place in the background... never been used of course. :)

We also headed out to my training village of Falevao for a visit. My family treated my parents like royalty, serving them coconuts and a nice spread of food. My training dad sat and chatted with my parents awhile even though his English isn't so good, I had to be translator. My dad took a pic of the whole family, which I don't have in town with me, but will post it later. The picture above is of my sister Folole, her husband and their new week old baby Ernesto. Even though she had the week old baby, she still did all of the cooking and serving.. :)
Viliamu, Laupama's Husband. When we arrived on the compound, they invited my family and me to the Toonai (Sunday brunch) at their place after church. Laupama has been like a sister to me this last year. I would call her and Viliamu and their 2 girls my real family in Samoa.

Malietoa Pictures

A jeep pulling Malietoa, surrounded by police and matai

Malietoa's procession. Students are lining the entire main street of Apia.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Malietoa Died

Malietoa is our Head of State. He has held this position since before we became an independent nation in 1962. He died last Friday at 92 years old (or around that).

It was a big deal. Samoan news is saying Darkest Day in Samoan history. Today and tomorrow is a nation holiday so EVERYTHING is closed, those of us who are in are trying not to starve to death. :) Also today, there was a procession with his casket down the main street of Apia, and tomorrow will be the actual funeral.

For some reason it's not letting me post pics of the procession, so I will try and post those a little later.

I will also post an update about my parents visit a little later this week complete with pictures. Also, I am getting ready to head to Vanuatu for a week during our school break.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bored at the office

I am sitting at the PC office waiting for my doctors appointment on my foot (broke a bone in my foot, cracked my toe bone), and waiting for my parents to get here... 5am. So, I thought i would post a few fun pictures from my folder on the computer. They are both 2 of my favorites.

The sunset view from the PC office in Apia.

A traditional fale out to Gataivai on Savaii. It was built traditionally with no new tools... like hammers.