MJ Live

Monday, April 09, 2007

Samoan Spring Break (Written 4/9/07)

Well I have definitely had a very busy couple of days – and this was just the start of my week and a half long vacation! We had a half day of class on Wednesday and you want to know what the best part was – because of our rotating class schedule, I really only had to teach 2 classes on Wednesday and one of those classes was the tutoring I do for the Faatuataua kids. It was great to just be able to relax on the last day of class. On Thursday, I went around town setting up the hotel arrangements for when my mom comes to visit me at the end of the month. I'm a very organized person (most of the time) so I have a little itinerary of how things should go down which allowed me to setup different hotels for the days that she will need to stay in a hotel. One of the best parts about actually being in Samoa is that I am able to actually view the rooms and make sure they look nice and that their location is decent – something that's really hard to do when you do it all online. One of the hotels that my mom will stay at is called Hotel Elisa which is one of the higher end hotels (but when you're working on the US dollar here, nothing's too expensive) and while I was there I ran into a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) from Tonga, John Clark, who is here on vacation with his two sons. On the back of my travel backpack is a Peace Corps logo, so that's how he knew I was in the Peace Corps. He was part of Peace Corps Tonga about 20 years ago and was basically doing a little tour of the South Pacific with his sons (who looked about 20 years old – it wasn't until later that I found out that he met his wife while he was in the Peace Corps, but she's a New Zealander not a Samoan). So that was interesting to meet a fellow Peace Corps just randomly on my little setup trip. Once I got all the little details setup, I had lunch at Skippy's which is about the closest thing to decently priced fast food on the island – I haven't eaten there since last year so I thought I would splurge a little bit. In all I got a lot done on Thursday – good thing, because I forgot that Friday was Good Friday which meant that nothing was open.

On Friday, I did nothing but hang around the house and just relax. It truly was a Good Friday!

On Saturday, I motivated myself to get up early in the morning and go into town to do a little shopping. As I was going around doing my thing, I ran into a fellow Peace Corps that was renting a car for the weekend (name withheld to protect the innocent). Being the spontaneous person that I am, I hopped into the car with them and went for a nice little joy ride. It was while we were all in the car that we realized how much you can get done with a vehicle around here. All the stuff that we did in the early morning would have taken us like half a day to do simply because of walking distance – but we finished all our main tasks in about an hour. We are going to be moving like the wind when we all return home at these 2 years of having to move slowly in life. Anyways, a few of us decided to go to one of the beach fales on the other side of the island – you got a car, you gotta use it. So after traveling through the Samoan DMZ (Falevao), we were headed to Lalomanu but changed our mind and went to Vavau instead. This was the first time I had been back to Vavau since our Thanksgiving meal there about a year and a half ago. It was still as nice and secluded as ever – there were a lot fewer people there compared to Lalomanu, which was nice. It was definitely relaxing to get into the water because I have not been in the water here since last year when Kevin (my principal) took a day trip to Lalomanu, so it has definitely been a while. I know, but you say "Marques, you live on a tropical island – how could you not be going to the beach every weekend!?" To which I reply, A) it can get kind of expensive with the bus fare and the beach fales (if you're coming by bus, it's only worthwhile if you stay overnight) and B) its kind of a far journey to any of the decent beach resorts. Once we were done at Vavau we headed back to Apia, picked up another volunteer, got cleaned up and headed back out to the south side of the island. We dropped the volunteer off in the DMZ and headed to Boomerang for dinner (when you have a car, you HAVE to use it!) and this was the first time I had been back here since our early service conference. While the food was decent, the main problem I have with the place is that at night the owner tends to get plastered and it's not a very fun dining environment. After dinner we headed back to Apia and I was dead tired! My original plan for Saturday was to go to down, do a little shopping, come back home and work – that plan got thrown out the window for a much better plan which is one of the great things about being on vacation. And this is only the beginning of my beach fales revival – my mom and I are going to a few during her visit.

On Sunday, I went to church and hung out with Candice and Ryan which is always fun. Staying on Mount Doom all the time can kind of make you a recluse and the best people to hang out with are the people from my own group – since we come from the same viewpoint of being the semi-senior group now. The biggest thing to happen on Sunday was the fact that I have biked to my house over 70 times now and at the pace I'm going (I bike to church every Sunday) I will hit 100 times before I leave Samoa. Then I'm never touching a bike again! J

Monday was suppose to be another work related day – but again, a change of plans came in. Instead, I woke up at about 6:30am to go on a little hike up Mt Vaea to the Robert Louis Stevenson grave. It was a Next Generation (the church adult youth group I am in) event and since this may be my only chance to go up there with a group of people – I said what the heck. The funny part is that this involved me biking down to town and then getting a ride from town. Which meant that after the hike I would be biking back up Mount Doom – my legs were going to get a workout today! We all got to the car park for the hike at about 8am and we went the long way up the mountain (which takes about 60mins to complete on average). The weird thing about this hike was that to me it wasn't really that hard – all I kept thinking about was how the Tongariro Crossing in NZ was so much harder and longer then this and since I completed that I could easily complete this. While there were some tough parts, overall it was a moderately easy hike and my team completed it in about 58 minutes (the other team completed it in 48 mins) and the view from the top was quite beautiful (of course I took pictures). We took the short way down which is a lot steeper then the long way, but it only took us about 10 minutes to get back down the mountain. After the hike we went over to a friends house and had a nice little barbeque (I took a mini nap because I knew I had to restore my energy for the bike ride home and rest my legs). We had chicken and hot dogs so it felt more like a 4th of July barbeque then an Easter lunch (I think this is my first Easter barbeque). Anyway, we got done with the barbeque at about 1pm and headed home. I escorted Sara home (because you can never be to careful – even in the daylight) and then biked my way home. Fortunately, my legs weren't hurting or tired so it wasn't a bad bike ride home. And I believe that it was this time last year that I biked around Savaii – so the Easter weekend seems to bring out the exercise in me. But the beauty of being at Chanel is that instead of getting last week off (which is considered Holy Week in the Catholic Church) we get this week off – which means that instead of having 2 days occupied by a school/national holiday (Holy Thursday/Good Friday) we only had 1 day occupied by a national holiday (Easter Monday) and I have the rest of the week off! So great, so hopefully at some point I am able to get into my lab and actually work. Hopefully, we'll see – as you can tell from this past weekend, plans can change at the drop of a hat here. Gotta love Spring Break!

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