We're back in Apia! Woohoo. The village was definitely an experience. The past two weeks have been intense but overall pretty enjoyable. It took a couple days for everything to sink in and adjust but we just had to get used to things. My host family is good for the most part. I'm living with a high chief. My father, Te'O, is pretty big in the village. But I still haven't really seen him do much. My mother, Tovaega, pretty much has a permanent spot on the floor in the fale. My sisters do everything. I have 3 sisters, Faleata, Epi and Dorothy. Epi commutes to school in Apia everyday and as soon as she gets home she's helping to make dinner. Faleata and Dorothy pretty much cook, clean, do laundry, take care of the 'rents all day long. My brothers, Liki and Sao, work on the plantation everyday. I get bananas fresh from the plantation! There are 16 brothers and sisters, but only those live in Vaie'e. I'm constantly meeting members of the family. EVERYONE in the village is related. Apparently there are only 5 families in the village. I have a bunch of nephews, tons of cousins, the list is endless. My main nephews are Lesa, who is 18, Tolo, who is 6 and Pita who is 3. Tolo and Pita are adorable. They both have an obsession with my waterbottle.
Life is pretty simple. We have training all day. Mostly language class. Then afterwards we can sign up for tutorials, but usually we end up just playing rugby or volleyball (the Samoan boys are SO good at rugby), or taking a ta'ele (swim) in the pool. Well, not really a swim, but we just cool off our feet and talk. Or do homework. I usually don't go home till we have to. It is HOT in the village. During the day it's so hard to focus during class because it's just so hot. The mornings and nites are perfect though. I can't even explain to you how beautiful the village is. It sits on a lagoon and is just amazing. I didn't bring my camera last time but I WILL bring it this Saturday and I WILL post pictures sometime. I could lay and look at the stars for hours every nite. They're just magnificent.
So Samoan hospitality is wonderful. They want to do everything for us, and they do. Every meal is cooked for me and the food is delicious. Though it kinda sucks not having any say in what I want to eat. Many times I'm not even hungry but I HAVE to eat. And it's quite amusing to have someone fanning you while you eat. At first it was because of the heat, but now it's to keep the flies away. Oh and the bug situation SUCKS. If I don't put bug spray on, I'll immediately get bitten. I have a mosquito net in my room AND a palagi fan (electric fan) which I don't know what I would do without. I live among cockroaches, geckos, flies, moths, millipedes, centipedes, spiders and tons of other bugs. But I've gotten used to most of it. And there are so many pigs, roosters (which start crowing at 3am!!), horses, and dogs just running around all day. We have to watch out for poop a lot of places that we walk.
And I've been to church here in Samoa more than I have been my entire life. The village is a Congregationalist one and they have church twice on Sunday. My first Sunday I went twice. It's only an hour and not so bad. And it's always quite amusing to see what everyone's family has dressed them up in. Last week I had this all white puletasi which was just hideous but my family thought looked Manaia (very nice) on me. So I had to wear it. And it's mine to keep now. Wonderful. And we have lotu everyday at 6:30. That's where families pray before dinner. My family's generally lasts for about 15 minutes.
Nite times are pretty tame. Sarah lives closest to me, pretty much diaganolly from my house. BUT my family doesn't trust me to walk there by myself and I ALWAYS have someone walk with me. It can get frustrating. At nite time it's not so bad, but my family has kinda given me a curfew which sucks. Usually we talk savalivali (walks) and run into other trainees and other people. Everyone knows our names and it's quite amusing. Even in the complete dark they know who we are. Then there is choir practice on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday which I've been going to. Not to sing, but more to just listen to everyone. They are AMAZING singers. And then Bingo is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But I went that first Wednesday and I don't think I'm ever going to go again. It was so stressful and hot and uncomfortable. Sitting on the floor crosslegged for almost 2 hours. And I thought my numbers were good in Samoan, but clearly not. Most of the time I just take a walk at nite to pass the time. It gets dark pretty early, around 6:30ish and the sun rises pretty early. I'm usually in bed by around 10. Our days are long though and the heat does not help.
There are lots of things in the village we are still learning. Lots of rules that we can get away with because we are palagi. But others that we have to adapt to in order to integrate. We do dress pretty conservatively. It's so hot!! And apparently the people in the village can only play sports on Wednesdays, but we can play any day. The reason for that is no work would get done on the plantation if they were allowed to play all day.
I did have one episode of diarrhea and I did get a cold in the village the last week. But nothing too serious. And now we're back in Apia. Saturday nite was absolutely insane. That's what happens when you're in the village and can't do anything! Sunday I went to Palolo Deep with Amanda and we saw Jordan and Jessica there and some other volunteers and it was so nice being on the beach. Ray, Jan and Tim whipped up a spaghetti dinner for us in the hotel kitchen yesterday since most restaurants are closed on Sunday. Yum.
Wednesday we are off to our volunteer visits! I'm excited because I get to go to Savai'i. The big island. Sarah and I are going to be staying with the volunteer Sarah for 2 nites. So I'll have more stories to tell when I get back.
Okay, that is a quick recap of the past 2 weeks. I wish I could write more! And I'm sorry if I haven't returned your emails! I do read them, I just need time to respond to them all!
Hope all is well with everyone back home!!