Friday, October 28, 2011

This and That

Last week, the grass in front of my fale was brown.  Today, thanks to a bit of rain, it is green.  The rainy season officially arrives in November.  When I start whining about it, please remind me how happy I was with the rainy days we’ve had lately.  Sunshine is great, but rain is a nice break from the sun and sweat.

At 7:00 a.m. yesterday I went outside to hang out the laundry I’d just washed by hand in a bucket in my shower.  Within two feet of my front door were seven pigs, eight chickens and a horse.  And 2 puppies.  I’ve come a long way from suburbia.  I gave the chickens and pigs some rice.  I shooed away the pups.  The horse kept sticking her nose into my bucket of clothes.  Then she’d nuzzle my clothes on the line.  I finally figured out she was thirsty and gave her three buckets of water.  Poor thing, creature comforts are not high in priority here.

I have a new way of watching TV.  It may be problematic when I get home.  I don’t have a television so I watch shows that have been recorded on my computer.  I can watch an entire season in a week or two.  I bond with the characters and plot in a different way.  Hollywood, can you please arrange to have every show of Breaking Bad and Mad Men shown in one week instead of spread out over several months?  I’d appreciate it.

The programs I’m watching are from other people, so I’m dependent on the tastes of others.  Group 81, I’m sure you did a stellar job in Samoa, but you proved to me that the stuff young men like to watch is so not what I’m into.  HB, I love the Indian movies your brought.  But the Korean “soaps” that the divine Ms. J. sent are beyond me.  Mostly because the subtitles aren’t working and my Korean language skills suck even worse than my Samoan language skills. 

The handsome husband of my buddy Denise has provided me with lots of television stuff.  I now know that I’ve been missing out by not having the channels you have to pay extra for when you have cable.  Darn now I’ll feel like I’m missing out when I’m home and too cheap to pay for them!

A former volunteer downloaded a ton of podcasts of This American Life.  If you haven’t listened to this program on Public Radio, please start.  You’ll be doing yourself a favor.  The topics and content are insightful and interesting.  The host, Ira Glass, is articulate, personable and funny.  I knew we had a special connection as I listened to him.  Ira, will you marry me?  Or can I just stalk you when I come back to the US?  It doesn’t matter that I’m your mother’s age.  Really.

I was invited to to’ona’i by a member of parliament as he gave me a ride home from church.  He lives up the road and lets me use his beach fale.  It’s like living next to the Kennedy compound, Samoan style.

I was planning to go to Apia this weekend.  Was going to get a haircut and go shopping.  But since I got a haircut in Salelologa, I don’t really need to go and would rather stay home.  The hair cut, by the way was great and cost $5, US.   No need for the bright city lights.  I’ll probably go in a couple of weeks since I have to deliver some paperwork to the office.  My shopping list for Apia?  

New shoes (the soles of my black rubber thongs are starting to wear thin)
Olives (only available at Lucky Foodtown)
Hot peppers (only available at CityMart)
Cotton balls (available at several stores in Apia but not in Savaii)
Canned frosting (available at Farmer Joes and excellent when desperate for chocolate)
Sponges (only really crappy foam sponges are available on Savaii)
Canned tomatoes with jalapenos (I just heard they are available at Farmer Joes.)
Lentils (only available at Lucky Foodtown)
Marshmallows (available at a random faleoloa in Apia and excellent for dessert)
Other things I typically stock up on in Apia – sweet pickle relish, cream of mushroom soup and hot sauce, I’m ok with…still have plenty.

Samoans can’t afford to stockpile food.  Limiting my shopping would be a good thing.   I think I may have a bit of a hoarding thing going because I have a true palagi pantry.  Had to laugh this week when Dale, our country director sent a message that we should have at least a couple of days of food and water because it’s cyclone season.  I could feed my village for a couple of days with the amount of canned goods I’ve stockpiled. That’s not to mention the spices my friends have sent.  All combine to make mealtimes very enjoyable.

Group 82 is leaving soon.  They seem to be excited, relieved, nervous, anxious, giddy and sad.  Much the mixture of emotions I had before coming to Samoa.  I wish them well and will miss them, especially Emily, who lives closest to me.  I’ve talked to some of them about their resumes and plans as they transition back to the States.  It’s such a great time – one door is closing but another is opening.  Perhaps only a tiny crack, given today’s economy, but there are still opportunities.  It makes me think about leaving.  If someone told me I had to leave now, it would be hard.  I can’t imagine how much harder it will be after another year.  My tear ducts are already gearing up for saying goodbye to Year 8 at the Prize Giving in December.  Peace Corps has turned me into a cry baby.

Gossip!  Heard about a teacher from another village who got into a fight with her sister the other night.  First arguing and then physically fighting.  As a result she’s been kicked out of her village and has to change schools where she’s teaching.  Wow.  Is that worse than the married guy who got caught in his single girlfriend’s bedroom and had to pay the village 150 pigs?  Please do not complain to me about your HOA rules against a plaid paint job on your house.

Other gossip.  A friend just stopped by.  She mentioned that at church the ladies behind me were talking about me (I knew it!).  The gist of the conversation was that one of the widowers made a point to wear red (which I always wear at church because it’s my best puletasi) and to sit in front of me, so we’d match.  There are a surprising number of widowers in the village.  My name has apparently been linked with them all.  The fact that I have not been seen out with any man seems to make the married ladies more comfortable.  Really, you thought I’d come to a village of 400 people to find a husband?

I’ve found that between 5:30 and 6:00 is the sweet spot for a shower.  There’s still sun-warmed water in the pipes and yet it’s not still so freaking hot out that I sweat to death when I get out of the shower.  Today I took my shower at 5:50 p.m.  I got a blast of cold water as I stood under the tap.  The good news about rainy days is that they’re cooler.  The bad news is that they don’t warm up the water in the pipes.   Damn.  Still sweaty during the day and a cold shower in the evening.

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