Aren't they the cutest! (Melina and the new village pup)
The time had finally come. Now that the nation was back to working on a regular schedule and I had some time before I started school I decided it was time to go back and visit the family. Fortunately, I went on a day that was mostly sunny here (a tropical depression was dissipating over the island so that last couple of days have been filled with rain) so that was definitely a blessing. I didn’t tell the family when I was coming back because as I have witness from other Group 75ers going back if you’re not there when you say you’re going to be there they worry like crazy. So I went for the surprise route. I arrived there at about 3pm on Wednesday and I took the Falefa bus which is the bus to the village right before Falevao. So I got off the bus at the end of Falefa and walked the rest of the way – it was such a surreal feeling walking through a place that was just alive with Group 75 now and I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing them to now it’s the regular old village. It was surreal yet cool at the same time – like a living flashback. As expected, every house I walked by let out a ‘Malo Matusi!’ – it didn’t feel like a fish bowl though. So I walked down my street and when I got in front of the house, boy were they surprised to see me. Faces were lit up and smiles were being passed out like they were candy. It definitely felt like I was visiting family – but you would have thought I was gone for 3 months instead of 3 weeks. The one thing I did notice at first was the fact that Akaimo and Satuala got new bikes (and so did a few other kids in the village – I’m guessing that was the hot item for Christmas). Luckily, I didn’t eat anything of substance before heading out to Falevao because the first thing they did was feed me. That’s one thing we learned during training, but I tested out on this trip – even if you just show up unexpectedly, Samoans will always have food for you. One question a few people kept asking me was “Where are you sleeping?” which I thought was kind of an odd question – I would be sleeping in my old room of course. Well, come to find out, that bed isn’t normally in that room. The only thing that was in that room when I arrived was the table – I was shocked! But since they had a lot of guests over during the holidays I guess it’s to be expected that things would probably not be in the same order as when I left them.
So I hung out with the neighborhood kids, watching them play Volleyball, and playing with Melina. I don’t know what caused her to change, but Melina was very playful with me on this visit. The last time I was here she kept running away from me, but now she actually tries to play with me. Guess I really am becoming part of the family. At 7pm we had lotu and it was the first time since training that I’ve done a lot of Samoan speaking and my annunciation has gotten much better. I guess once you let the knowledge soak in after packing it on everyday, you’re bound to learn something. So that was a nice confidence booster. Then it was time for bed and it was the best nights sleep I’ve ever had in Falevao. I slept all through the night – which was good because it poured like Noah was coming through. The rain was just driving down so hard I thought the roof was going to cave in. It continued to rain even until I woke up this morning. I stepped outside and looked at the river that’s close to my house. Usually, it’s at my ankles and the surrounding bush is at my elbow. This morning the water was above the bush – the river was not only high but quick, anyone who fell in there would be swept away like it was nothing. We had always heard we should be careful of the river, but today just proved it. And even though yesterday there was no rain, God decided to make up for it today with not only a lot of rain but also wind – welcome to the wet/Cyclone season. I also learned today that during my training, they got up at 6am in order to make me breakfast for school – that was not their normal routine. None of the adults got up until about 7:30am-8am. In order for me to not feel like a guest and feel like a part of the family, I had to leave apparently. J After lunch there was a lull in the rainfall so I decided it was time to go. So I said my goodbyes and received the obvious “When are you coming back?” I don’t know when I’ll go back, but I won’t be a stranger. I probably felt more comfortable during this stay then I did at any point during my training – I guess when you can come and go as you please, that helps alleviate a lot of discomfort. But it was great seeing the family again – and I gave the boys a few gifts my mom sent from home (from Dollar General, the way they were playing with them you would have thought they were from Toys R Us) and the one toy they all liked was the Tic-Tac-Toe one. Apparently that game is not played here a lot but they took to it like crazy. Even Taeao (my mom) and Porilua (my aunt) were playing that game with the kids. That reminded me that things we take for granted back in the states (heck, we play tic-tac-toe when we’re board in class or a meeting) are sometimes seen as the most amazing thing in other cultures. Luckily, I gave the gifts on my second day (when it was raining) so they had some new things to play with while staying inside. Anyway, that’s all – hopefully the rain will continue and the cyclones will stay away. L8r.
PS - I received a copy of a book from one of our volunteers the day I left. Her name is Theresa Delsoin (Group 73) and the name is Malindy's Freedom: The Story of a Slave Family (She's an older female African-American Volunteer). It's available on Amazon.com if you want to buy a copy or just look it over. Just thought I would share that with you in case you were interested.