MJ Live

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Mixed Bag (Written 12/5/05)

Today was probably one of the hottest days I have experienced in Samoa. The sun was in full affect today with no clouds to block its energy draining rays. Now if that were the only thing to occur today that would be yet another boring day in the village – luckily that's not the case at all. At our daily check-in today we finally chose the person to represent/speak for the group at our swearing-in next Wednesday and that person is me. I am more than happy to do it but the fact that I got it by an overwhelming majority shows how much the group believes in my ability to convey our 10 weeks of training into a speech – fortunately, I've been keeping up my writing skills. J The next major thing to happen was I (and the rest of the group) had a mock LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) to prepare us for the one we're going to get on Thursday. It was done all in Samoan and I talked about my family (American and Samoan) and what I like about Samoa. While I didn't do bad, I wasn't great by any means and I got a novice high. So once I work on answering the questions I should be able to get intermediate medium. Hopefully. Then at about 9:30am we had people from the Animal Protection Service come out and neutered some of the village dogs. Since I have never owned a dog, it was interesting watching the entire process – especially done out in the open for anyone to see. The dog population is a big problem in Samoa and the APS provides a great service for not only stopping the growth of the problem but also, hopefully, it will put a decline in the dog population eventually. There are plenty of dogs in the APS pound looking for homes so if someone wants a dog they can get one. So the testicle removal show took up all of the morning and a bit of the afternoon – so they got a good amount of dogs neutered. Then at 4pm, Kevin – our training coordinator – and his wife Teilofa (he was a PC Volunteer here and married a Samoan) came to the school to do a yoga class. This was my first time sitting in on a yoga class so I decided to give it a whirl and it was definitely a workout of the body even though it didn't seem like it. Teilofa led the session and it lasted about an hour and I was sweating up a storm (the heat had nothing to do with it J). After we were all done and "relaxed" Teilofa said we did a great job for mostly beginners and she felt there was a real connection between all of us (which is the yoga equivalent of saying "you're a good group"). So after my fully day at school I expected to come home and have a normal rest of the night – boy was I wrong. First I come and see that the Christmas tree it now up and has lights strung all around it – that was a strange sight for me in that it was my first sign of Christmas actually coming to the village and somehow it just didn't feel the same as back home. At that same moment I met my grandmother  from Sione (my dad's side). She had flown in from New Zealand for the holidays and it was quite a surprise to meet her. I then went to the back are where I saw a lot of people working on a meal that's usually reserved for Sunday but I was told by my aunt, Poli, that whenever someone returns to the village from far away they throw a "party" for them and the pastor was coming – so I knew this was a big deal. As I was observing the cooking I noticed that someone had caught a bat for eating later on tonight – I'd never seen a captured bat before so it was interesting to see it trying to escape (Satuala tried touching it many times and got yelled out).



A captured bat


Satuala in awe of the bat


Since I was no help in the kitchen, I went out front and played a little bit of throwing the Frisbee around with Bryan and Andrew. While we were playing, the pastor's big three year old boy came over and demanded the Frisbee – we all said no and kept throwing the Frisbee. Well on one of the throws, the pastor's kid tried to intercept the Frisbee and got pegged on the lower flap of his eyelid. Even though the kid was bleeding, we chuckled a bit because this kid is a little hellion and we all wanted to pop him but we restrained ourselves – except for Andrew. So after stopping one of the families from putting Vicks vapor rub on his cut, we took the kid home to apologize for hitting him. When we got him there, his mom was not upset at all – and even chuckled – and told us that unless he was killed it doesn't matter how he got hurt. Definitely a difference of culture right there. So no more Frisbee throwing in the village. So once that was over with I cam back home and sat down for the formal dinner with my grandmother. The pastor and the highly respected orator came to this little party – so you know it was someone who meant something to the village. We were sitting traditional Samoan style for about an hour and my hips were not ready for that. Usually I sit in a chair until they feed me but to wait until the orator was done in order to eat. Once my food was done I got up as quickly as possible to stretch my legs outside. While I was standing outside, I saw a guy who was drunk get into a car and try driving. The bad thing was there were plenty of people (Samoans) around to take the keys from him but no one did – one of the drawbacks of being in a passive aggressive culture. So this guy was so drunk he smashed into my uncle, Tusia's fale and then backed up almost crashing into Bryan's house (which is home to a matai). They did let him drive away drunk which was very disappointing. He went right instead of left (towards the school) so maybe he drove off a cliff or something. So as you can tell this has definitely been one of those days – I feel like I am on '24' with all the things that happened today. But there's only 5 more days left – yay!

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