Saturday, August 18, 2012


I spent the recent three-day holiday weekend (Samoa’s Father’s Day) at a luxury resort in Upolu.  Le Vasa Resort is beautiful and has some of the best accommodations and food that you can find in Samoa.  Also, some of the nicest people.

Sounds like a fabulous weekend, doesn’t it?  Well, it was, but it was also a working weekend.  I was there to provide customer service training for the staff.  This was round two.  I’d done the basics a few months earlier.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m not allowed to earn money during my two years of service.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to earn money AFTER my two years are up.  Rather than paying me for the training, the resort owners give me a nice room (staff quarters, no air con and no hot water but nice) and food and drink.

I decided to upgrade to a garden room, paying the difference out of my own pocket.  The room was bigger, nicer, had air con, although no hot water, and was closer to the main part of the resort.  The biggest difference between the rooms, as well as my house in Savaii, was that the garden room had mirrors.  Lots of mirrors.  One was full length.  Do you have any idea what it can do to your psyche when you are faced with lots of mirrors after multiple months without? 

I was coming off the netball tournament and a badly sunburned face.  I knew from feeling my face that it must look bad.  Red and peeling.  I did not need mirrors to confirm it.  But they did.  I also suspected that the couple dozen or so mosquito bites on my body probably didn’t really add much to my Reubenesque curves.  The floor length mirror proved I was correct.  The mirror also suggested that perhaps eating as a form of emotional comfort was not the best plan.  Add up the curves, the sunburn and the bites and the mirrors reflected lumps, welts and flaking skin alternating between glowing white and flaming red.

After deciding that looking at myself in the full-length mirror might induce trauma that only psychotropic drugs could erase, I stuck with the bathroom mirror.  Face only.  That was fine until I took a good look.  What the hell was that on my cheek?  It’s like a white crescent.    Wait, there are smaller versions around my eyes.   When I smiled, they disappeared.  Holy crap, I have tan lines on my face.  For heaven’s sake, I’m turning into the Marlboro man!

It will be no problem when I get home.  No one will notice.  As long as I never stop smiling or squinting. An d never wear a cowboy hat.

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