Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Last Weekend

Yes, this picture was taken in Apia!

Along with the fiafia this last Friday, this past weekend has been fairly eventful. After a late night on Friday cleaning up after the event, Tim and I headed out early Saturday morning to a village close to the wharf on Upolu: Faleasi’u. This is where Suluape lives, the legendary traditional Samoan tattoo artist.

If any Peace Corps wish to get a tattoo while in country, he is the only person we are allowed to see. Unlike most tattoos which are done with a gun, Samoan tattoos are done traditionally. The tools usually include boars bone filed into small spiky needle-like ends and then tied to the end of a stick. These are then tapped into your skin by another stick. So, the tattoo artist holds the stick with the bone needles at the end of them and then taps on that stick with another. This method of tattooing is VERY painful and it also goes much deeper in your skin than a regular tattoo; it goes into the plasma.

Many volunteers have opted to get a tattoo done by Suluape. I myself have one on my ankle and the top of my foot. It was one of the most painful things I have done (not including cutting the finger off that is). Our medical officer usually wants us to wait a good year until we decide to get the tattoo, and Tim has hit that year mark. So, I accompanied him to Suluape’s house.

When we arrived at his place, he was gone in Apia so his wife served us morning tea consisting of cup o noodles. After a good half hour he finally appeared. Tim decided to get the top part of the traditional male tattoo around his calf. Since the area of the body this tattoo covers is fairly large, Suluape had to make it fit on Tim’s calf area. The result ended up being a very detailed and fine looking tattoo. It really is nice; lots of ink and detailed design. After 4 hours of tapping away on Tim’s leg with a brief 10 minute break, it was over. Suluape’s family served us food of rice, fish and canned corned beef and then gave us a ride into town. Overall, Tim got a nice tattoo…

The other thing I feel worth mentioning from this weekend is a store. Sunday morning before we all headed back to Savai'i, Dylan and Tim told me about this new store just past the market that has everything you could ever want. I was skeptical since most stores here have few things I really crave. When I stepped into this store it was like I was back in the states. There are entire aisles dedicated to cereals! There were boxes of Hamburger helper and Rice-a-Roni (I have never seen these items in this country before). There was chocolate cake mix, frosting, pickles, mushrooms and candy… Really anything you could ever want from back in the states. No more do your parents have to send you that shaving cream you just cannot live without or the box of Mac and Cheese… I was so amazed I wandered around it for over 40 minutes and still didn’t get a good idea of all that they carry. Now, you are probably wondering how much all of this costs… yes, it is expensive and no I don’t care. I dropped a little more than I had planned, but it was worth it for that bottle of Arizona Ice Tea and real Saltine crackers…

Finally, I have caught everyone up to date on my life thus far. My dad comes tomorrow morning. Crazy. He arrives on my birthday and is insisting on baking me a cake. (He even sent over a box of cake mix – though now I can buy it at that new store). He’ll be here for 2 weeks, for Halloween parties, PC meetings and everything else. He said he wanted to come back and just live like a volunteer for awhile, namely riding the buses…

I have included a few pictures from Tim’s tattoo and the new store. Until next time…
Traditional tattoo tools.
Suluapa pounding away on Tim's leg. The other 2 guys are holding the skin tight.
The back of Tim's calf.
The side to front of the tattoo.
Cereal... I don't need to say anything more.


At 8:29 PM, Blogger Emily said...

Hi Julya
Thanks so much for posting pics of Tim's tat...I was wondering when it would actually happen! So glad to hear you're enjoying the bounty that is your new grocery store!

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Grace for us all... said...

Happy Birthday, Julya!

We love you!

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Hampus said...


Stumbled across your blog while searching for Petelo Suluape. I have a very similar tatau as Tim's, done by Wilson Fitiao on AM. Samoa a couple of years ago and I'm now on my way back to Samoa to find Petelo. All I have is his name and the name of the village. If you have any other contact information to him I'd be very grateful.



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