It was a quick trip to Apia but a nice, refreshing break from the village. There were a couple of incidents last week that made me angry and frustrated. The break came at a good time.
I tend to forget how different Apia is than living in my village in Savaii. Even though the rest of the volunteers argue that I live in the Savaii ‘burbs because I’m less than an hour from Salelologa, you can’t call Sale a city. Town would be stretching it. Big village with a few stores is more fitting.
My day Saturday started well. The reliable alarm on my cell phone worked and I dressed and finished packing by the time the taxi arrived promptly at 4:45 a.m. I opted for a taxi, which costs $10 USD because it is faster, which meant I got to sleep later, it is more reliable than the bus, which doesn’t always come by for the early boat and mostly, because I HATE carrying my suitcases to the road and waiting in the dark. It’s not the carrying or waiting that is problematic. It’s the dogs.
They go into hyper-alert status at night, guarding the fales and families. I’ve been attacked making the early morning trek to the road by my own dogs, who slunk away in shame when they realized they were attacking the woman who feeds them. The neighbors dogs like to sleep in the open area in front of our compound. They’ve attacked me as a pack in daylight hours, when I could see them and scream and throw rocks. In the dark, it’s worse.
Anyway, the taxi showed up on time and drove right to my front door. It was an easy, cool drive to the wharf. There were quite a few people but not overly crowded and there was an excellent sunrise as we made the hour-long crossing to Upolu.
I got a seat on the bus and was enjoying the scenery on the ride to Apia. I noticed the streamers and flags on homes in honor of the recent Independence Day celebrations. Many villages had put banners across the road, wishing Samoa a happy birthday. The Congregational religious college had put up a new sign. “Congregational Church in Samoa. Museum and Rain Forest. Free.” Does anyone else find that funny?
We passed the Methodist church that has been under construction since before December, 2010. It was under construction when I passed it on my first trip to the wharf and still is, although there were dozens of workers hard at it and it appears close to being finished.
I love driving to Apia and checking out the vendors along the road. They sell barbequed chicken, fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, niu (drinking coconuts), wood, etc. We have a very limited number of entrepreneurs in Savaii because we have limited numbers of people. I long for street vendors and frequently shop at the new stand across from the Tuisivi store near my village to encourage them.
As we got close to town I noticed what appeared to be an informal parade coming from the opposite direction. It was about ten cars, refurbished, tricked out and brightly painted. I found out later they have a club and drive around together regularly. Speaking of cars, later in Apia I saw a car that had huge black plastic eyelashes attached to the hood over the headlights. Samoans do like to decorate their cars and I give that guy a 10 for creativity.
We passed a restaurant/hotel in town that advertised “Pot Plants for Sale”. I believe they meant potted plants but who knows?
At the Peace Corps office I talked briefly with a man who has one of the most boring jobs in the world. The security guard for the Peace Corps office. He was there alone, sitting in the kitchen, reading a book out loud. We talked briefly then I went next door to KK Mart to see what they had available. OMG, I scored two bags of corn chips for less than $6 USD for both large bags. The expiration date is November, so I will be in chip heaven for awhile. Tonight, I’m making nachos! I did not find pretzels, though. I checked three grocery stores. No pretzels, which I’d promised one Year 7 class who had read a story about pretzels, but didn’t know what they were. Disappointing.
After taking care of some business at the Peace Corps office, I headed to my hotel. Too early to check in so I dropped my bags and walked to the market. I was checking out some cabbage because the prices were less than half of what we pay in Savaii. I decided it wasn’t worth hauling back on the boat, though. In the process I talked to the two women selling the cabbages, in Samoan. They laughed. I continued talking, in Samoan. They kept laughing. One wiped the tears from her eyes and said to her partner “The old palagi is speaking Samoan.” Yes, and the old palagi is not deaf and knows what you are saying. I explained why I speak Samoan and we had a good chuckle.