Saturday, May 5, 2012


Written on a hot afternoon on May 4,2012

It’s 4:37 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  I’ve been swatting flies and trying to kill the mosquitoes that for some reason decided to descend during daylight hours today.  I’m bored.  I’m listening to two of my “cousins” next door sing while they make the fire for dinner.  I’m also listening to my brother sing as he makes the fire to cook dinner for my family.  They are each 20 feet away from me and singing different songs.  At the top of their lungs.  I’m considering chiming in with a third song.  Because I’m bored.

My day started as usual, at school at 7 a.m. but I left school at 9:00 a.m. to come home and heat up the chicken rice soup I’d made for the teachers.   I arranged to have two Year 8 boys come to take the giant pot of hot soup back to the school.  I offered them each a bowl, which they cheerfully accepted.  One was poking through my food, asking who it was for.  Yes, it is all for me.  He wanted the cookies.  I gave each boy a small packet of cookies before they left.  One tore his open with his teeth and spit the pieces of paper on the floor.  I suggested he throw them away. 

I have nothing to do at school.  Yes, I could substitute for the Year 3 teacher who is on maternity leave.  Or the Year 8 teacher who didn’t come to school today.  Or the Year 7 teacher who came an hour after school started and left an hour before it was over.  But I’m here to teach English, not to be a substitute teacher.    I did hold detention for some Year 8 students and gave an assignment for the Year 7 students before I left to heat the soup.  I planned to take them for the day if their teacher didn’t show.  Surprising to the Samoan teachers, they really prefer to be busy.  And this particular class is considered “at risk”.  They are slower learners and love the educational games I play with them.  Relay race to write the alphabet?  What could be more fun?

I also did some lesson planning for next term and gave copies to the Year 7 teachers.  They couldn’t understand why I was planning for next term.

As is typical on Friday’s, we dismissed school early, after an hour long recess.  I lingered at school but was still home by 12:30.  I was accompanied by 7 boys.  Some were carrying my stuff, others were just hanging around.  One of the boys used the “sh**” word.  That’s the third time I’ve heard it in a week.  They clearly know it is swearing.  I plan to raise the issue with my boss next week.  I mentioned to him this morning that a girl from another school flipped me off when she saw me on the bus.  Isn’t it fun what America teaches kids by way of movies and music videos?

I planned to go swimming after school but it was rainy.  Then sunny, which means steamy.  Then rainy.  Now, it is clear and hot, with no breeze.  Every time I turn on my fan I am grateful I have it.  It is the best $75 USD investment I’ve ever made and if/when it breaks, I will be at the store to buy another ASAP.  I didn’t have a fan (no electricity) for my first 8 months.  What a difference it makes.

I asked my 19 year old sister how her day was.  “Boring.”  Yeah, I get it.  Imagine living in a town of a few hundred.  No television.  No restaurants.  No car.  Just work, chores and napping.  At least I read.  If I didn’t have books I would go crazy.  Samoan women weed for entertainment.  They do it in groups so they can gossip as they weed.  I just can’t get into it. 

I was looking forward to watching dance practice but then realized they don’t have it on Friday nights.  Bummer.  I will miss the evening live entertainment.

I took a walk.  That burned some time.  But when I walk people want to know why.  Where am I going?  The concept of just walking for pleasure and exercise is lost on most Samoans.  Admittedly I was right there with them when I lived in the land of air conditioning and cars.  Now, walking is not only necessary, it’s a break from boredom. 

Soon, it will be late enough to make dinner – what a surprise, chicken and carrots again!  Thank God I like chicken and carrots.  It will also be time for my evening shower. 

I think part of my boredom is because I’m anticipating vacation.  A week from tomorrow I leave for Upolu.  After a night there, I fly to Auckland for three glorious weeks.  I plan to shop (not buying, just shopping), eat salads, cheese and mussels and go to movies.  With any luck I’ll also get a ticket to see Jersey Boys.  No one will be watching me.   Everyone will speak English.  There will be hot showers and clean sheets.  There won’t be rats on my bed or bugs everywhere.  I can’t wait.

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