Saturday, December 23, 2006
We did it! We biked Savai’i! 120 miles around the island in 5 days. Now, most volunteers do it in about 3 days, but any less than 5 days and I probably would have jumped on a bus at some point. I don’t think I could’ve ridden my bike anymore any of the days. So it was John and Candice (from Group 75), Jordan, Jame and I. We left Friday,the 15th. John, Candice, Jame and I started from Apia and biked to the wharf, which is about 20 miles. Good thing we got our bad luck out of the way that first hour and a half as Candice had a flat tire within the first 5 minutes of riding (though she did get another one on our way to Ray and Jan’s) and Jame got a bit dehydrated and kinda sorta passed out for about 2 seconds. By the time we got there, I was ready for a long nap. Instead, we got on the noon ferry and arrived in Salelologa where Jordan met us. We all then biked about another 3 hours to get to Vik’s village for his “surprise” birthday party. All of Group 76 was present except for Dane. Unfortunately for us bikers, we could not enjoy the party entirely because we could barely move, but we did help to eat the wonderful hot dogs in pita bread (delicious pita bread that Jan made) and beans and chili out of the can. We spent much of the nite giving each other massages and stepping on each other’s backs.
The next morning we lounged around and Jan made those of us who were left pancakes …great sustenance. Then we continued on our way. We headed towards Manase where us 4 gals decided to spend the nite at Tanu Beach Fales. It was my first time staying at a beach fale and the location could not have been more perfect. John continued on to Maka’s while the 4 of us slept, ate, played in the water, read and had an idyllic day. Manase has to be put of the most beautiful places in Samoa. We got a lot of much needed rest for our legs and our bums which were all so sore. No seconds on dinner though unfortunately! At nite the 4 of us sat huddled in the ocean looking up at the stars.
Sunday we were on our way once again. We were headed towards Maka’s village, where we would meet up again with John. Rolling hill after rolling hill, we made it to Maka’s village after a pit stop to refuel at Vaisala. Then it was up a monstrous hill which I somehow, incredibly, made it to the top of, stopping only briefly one time to stretch my legs. I don’t know where my energy all of a sudden came from, because by the time we got to the big hill, my legs were tight and I thought I was going to cry and have to walk my bike up that hill, but I made it! We spent the nite at Maka’s and he was a great and wonderful host. The food was delicious and Maka had 80s music playing while we once again gave each other massages and filled our bellies once again.
The next day brought us to the Falealupo loop and we once again played in the water. We spent sometime at the beach fales and waited for the heat of the day to pass. Coming out of the loop was rough. My legs were still tired from the day before and it was definitely a tough day for me. I had to push my bike a few times to get over the many hills. By the end of the day, John was keeping me company in the back, far behind everyone else. But I made it to Satuiatua where we spent the nite at beach fales once again. We didn’t make it there till 6 pm, so we went straight to dinner and they treated us to ice cream! After dinner, Candice, Jordan and I sat in the water watching the lightning blaze across the sky for a little while. It was gorgeous. Everytime the sky lit up you would hear a chorus of “ooohs” and “whoas.”
Tuesday morning we took an early dip in the water and then were on our way to Taga where Jan met us and together we enjoyed the blowholes. It was my second time there, as I visited former PCV Sara Z. there on my volunteer visit. And Sara, if you are reading this, your village does fondly remember you and we must thank you because bringing up your name got us out of having to pay for some of the fees they were charging. It was a gorgeous day and we were the only tourists there. Tofa was there and he threw coconut husks in the blowholes for us, free of charge. THANK YOU! We had lunch at the blowholes and took a nap before heading to Jan and Ray’s village for the nite.
At Jan and Ray’s, we got there and headed straight for the vai ta’ele (pool). It was SO cold, but a welcome cold from the heat we had been riding in all day. We made dinner…French toast, hot dogs, pisupo and taro balls (delicious, courtesy of Ray!) and spaghetti. What a feast. Afterwards the 5 of us sprawled out on the fale, evenly spaced, and “mom” and “dad” put us to bed.
The homestretch! Wednesday morning, we were just a short 45 min.- 1 hour bike ride from Salelologa. We had breakfast with Ray and Jan then headed out to catch the 10 am ferry back to Upolu. We biked through the rain and boarded the ferry and just like that, our trip was over. And that, everyone, is our bike trip summed up!! I am so happy to have done it! Through all the aches and pains, I can’t wait to do it again…though I’m going to give it a few months before I attempt to. And I really don’t want to see a bike for a couple of weeks either.
Back on Upolu, Candice, John and Jordan, those hard core bikers, biked from the wharf back to Apia, whereas Jame and I hitched a ride from a faife’au and faletua. I really couldn’t fathom riding my bike back to Apia. Thank goodness we found one!!
It was real nice to get away for a few days and be palagis. My next goal is to tackle Upolu island, which is not as big, but is much hillier. December has been somewhat of a slow month. Once school ended, I really did not have much to do. Luckily, there was a bunch of Peace Corps events that kept me somewhat busy. And I did take my nephews, my brother Perenise and one of my favorite kids in the village to McDonald’s one day. It was a real treat for them and I had a great time treating them and spending the day with them. And in Peace Corps news…Group 77 are officially volunteers! We had their swearing in party on Wednesday, the 13th.
And now it's almost New Year's. Most of us volutneers still in country are headed to Falealupo in Savai'i to ring in the new year together. It sure doesn't feel like the holidays at all here. I miss everyone back home so much and I'm thinking about you all.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!