It's feeling a lot like home. The quilt was a gift from a woman in the village I adore. BTW, you're looking at all my furniture except for a green plastic chair.
Did you think you’d really escape another house update? Insert evil laugh here. Don’t worry, this one is all good news. I’ve been in the house for two weeks now and it feels like home. It’s close to the school, which is very convenient. It’s close to a beautiful beach, which is amazing. It gives me space to be alone and a kitchen where I can cook whatever my heart desires. Well, as long as my heart desires the fairly limited number of ingredients that I can get here.
In retrospect, I think spending time in a small room with no kitchen access and a bathroom shared with up to a dozen people helps me appreciate the place I have now. I don’t notice the faults, because I’m still thrilled to have a refrigerator and a sink. I don’t think I needed three months to get that perspective, but water under the bridge. Bottom line, the house is great and I’m very happy here. It’s been a five popo week and you’d have to pry me out of here with a crowbar.
On to some things I’ve noticed…
An older man was getting off the bus and I noticed his unusual wristband. It was a beer coozy with the bottom cut out. Decorative or functional? No idea.
Samoans seem to like bright colors and sparkly things. Two of my school puletasi’s have some type of glitter in the fabric. A puletasi that was a gift was hand painted with glitter paint. I’ve never been one for sparkly attire, but kind of like the tiny flecks of glitter left behind on my skin. Like I’ve been out at a club for the day instead of in school.
Samoans have asked if I’ll wear puletasis after I go home. When I say “Probably not.” Some seem offended. One was a woman who lives in New Zealand. I asked if she wore puletasis there. “No!” she laughed. “Can you imagine how people would stare if you wore one to the mall?” My point exactly. I will bring my favorites home and will wear them to a few gatherings with friends, just so they can see what my daily attire here is like.
As I type this, I’m listening to a conch horn. I assume it’s the signal that it’s time to be inside for evening prayer or lotu. Most of the churches ring a bell or something similar to a bell (like an old oxygen tank) that makes noise.
In the training village when AOG rang the bell, it was as if it was inside my head because it was so close. It was more annoying than inspiring. In my current house, it’s just far enough away to be sort of soothing and reassuring. Except at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings. That one is still just kind of annoying.
I’d heard that fruit bats were extinct here. That is not true. I saw them in the training village. Big suckers and I’d hate to get dive bombed by one, not that that is likely to happen. In Savaii, in both my first place and my current house, I hear them at night. I can hear the wings flapping but mostly I hear what sound like fruit bat fights. Or maybe it’s fruit bat sex. I don’t know and don’t really care, but it’s really loud and a bit similar to a cat fight. Or cat’s having sex. Except higher pitched and doesn’t usually last as long. Thank goodness.
Did you know that when pigs are hungry and know that it’s about dinner time they make a lot of noise? It sounds as if they’re being slaughtered. Or having sex. It lasts as long as it takes whoever is preparing the food to start shoveling it out to them.
Speaking of which, the primary food for pigs in Samoa is popo - coconut. Which means a lot of work. The coconuts have to be taken down off the trees. They have to have the husk removed, which is physically challenging. Then you have to whack the bejeebers out of the coconut with the dull side of a machete. Then you use the sharp side to score and scrape out chunks of coconut. I’ve tried from three different families to get a popo per pig ratio of how much they eat. The response in all three cases was “The right amount.” Yes, but what is that? 20 popo per pig? 10? 50? In one case, I was told it was enough to fill two buckets. That’s the cut up popo. I’m guessing it takes about 15 popo per pig, twice a day.
All that popo results in a lot of poop. I use a flashlight to walk through the yard in the morning to avoid pig, dog, chicken, horse and now bull poop. I don’t have to walk through a muddy plantation, though, so now my foot issue is the sand I track in, rather than the mud. So far, I prefer sand.
The other day I was walking to the office on the second floor of the school when I noticed one of the boys waving at me. Not unusual, except he was looking down at me. From the flag pole he’d shimmied up. There’s been a problem with the ropes to hoist the flag and some boys were sent to fix it. They did.
I had a chance to be interviewed on camera the other day. Yup, Monday morning, there I was, looking my sweaty best. At least I assume I was. I know I was glowing. Not sure if I looked my best due to that no mirror thing. So when a couple of guys showed up with what looked a lot like a TV camera, I hid. No need to trot out the palagi for an interview. Unfortunately, they found me. One of the guys explained it was just to document the research on the use of multi-media in Samoan primary schools and hardly anyone would see it.
I felt better about doing the short interview, right up until the end when he said. “That’s it for us, Samoa, thanks for watching!” Please, God, let him be joking and I will not be on national television in Samoa. Looking like I had just finished a rough session of Hokie Pokie on a really humid day.
I went for a walk last night. Because I’m in a new neighborhood, I’m getting to interact with folks I haven’t met before. I’m enjoying my status as a D list celebrity. Not to brag, but if Kathy Griffin and I strolled down the street together, there would be more people yelling “Nancy!” than “Kathy”. Granted, most of my fans are under the age of 12 and can’t help me make a living, but still.
As I walked, I could hear the kids alerting kids in the next yard over that I was coming. The older kids generally tried to play it cool, with just a wave or nod. Many used the greetings that we’d just practiced, instead of greeting me in Samoan. Or just asking me for money in Samoan, which is all I got when I first arrived.
The little kids, many of whom have older siblings in school, didn’t hold back. They lined up on the side of the road. Some jumping up and down, others squatting, waiting for me to walk by like a 1 person Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And the entire walk, kids and some adults, were calling out my name. It seems to be like a human vocal version of honking when you pass someone you know.
The kids do it at school. If I walk by a classroom, even if they’re in the middle of a lesson, some of the kids will turn and yell “Nancy!” as I walk by. They don’t want me to stop. Just want to let me know they see me. I wonder if this will last for two years. If it does, I wonder if I can live without the attention when I leave.
On my walk the other night, I saw one of the Year 6 boys in the ocean with his younger siblings. His youngest brother was a hoot. I’m guessing he was about 4. Wiry and strong, with attitude. For no particular reason, other than the little kids at school love it, I started yelling “Bear!” then doing a grizzly imitation while chasing him into the water. He and his sisters loved it. Their mom and I were laughing out loud as they tripped over each other trying to escape from me. The boy started playing “Bear” back at me and I acted terrified. Great fun.
Then he started trying to sing the Bingo song. At first I didn’t get it because the tune was totally not there, but I heard “NGO” and realized. I started singing and he and his sisters sang along. After a couple of times, the little sisters opted to go back in the water. “Bear Boy”, though, couldn’t seem to get enough. We’d finish and he’d yell “Toe fai!” “Again!” I almost lost my voice but smiled all the way home.