I thought you might enjoy reading about the details of my day in Apia. Today was pretty typical of a day in the capital city.
I was awakened at 6:45 a.m. by a text from the volunteer I was planning to meet for breakfast. She was running late because two of the three buses that serve her village had been reserved to take mourners to a large funeral in the next village.
As I walked to meet my friend, I saw two women being attacked by several dogs. The women defended themselves by throwing rocks at the dogs. I used to think that was appalling. Now, I’m a good aim. When the attack was happening, a young man was passing me on the sidewalk. I commented “Leaga maile.” Bad dogs. He seemed surprised that I spoke to him in Samoan, but agreed.
He asked where I was going, in English. I told him and we started chatting in both English and Samoan since his English was on a par with my Samoan. We were walking in the same direction and spent the next ten minutes talking and walking. Imagine that in the United States. First, walking for ten minutes and second, a young man voluntarily chatting with an older woman, just to be friendly.
Breakfast was lovely and it was nice to catch up, but I passed on food. I enjoyed a cappuccino and after our time together moved on to a restaurant I wanted to visit, where I could have a burger for breakfast rather than eggs. Not only was it significantly cheaper than the palagi restaurant but they served any food, all day. Samoans seem to share my view that God did not decree that only eggs and pancakes are allowed to be served in the morning. An issue I debated with my mother (unsuccessfully) since I was a girl.
Another plus of the restaurant was that they had a rerun playing of the Olympic opening ceremonies on an enormous flat-screen tv. Rain set in while I dined, so I dawdled. Eventually, the rain ebbed and I headed out.
Rather than walking, I used the rain as an excuse to take a taxi to a store I’d been told had refried beans. They did. They also had taco shells. The first I’ve seen in Samoa. Neither were inexpensive, but such a treat. I also bought a bag of pretzels. I’d tried to explain them to my Year 7 kids because we read about them in a book. I promised I’d find some in Apia but had been told the only store that had them charged $20 a bag. I was thrilled to find them for $7 a bag.
The taxi driver who’d taken me to the store had waited for me, to take me back to my hotel. He was young, friendly and polite. I was ready to head back to my hotel and then realized I needed to go to the Baha’i Temple to take enlargeable photos for a woman in Arizona who’d found me on this blog. We agreed on a price and I gave him directions to one of the major tourist destinations on the island. It was about a 20 minute drive through the rain. We chatted as we drove, again in both English and Samoan.
After taking the photos, we headed back to my hotel. We were talking about music and he played his favorite song for me. It also happened to be my favorite Samoan song. He said that meant he should be my boyfriend. Then he laughed heartily. Because he was handsome and 23 and I’m….not.
Back in the hotel, I turned on the internet, the television and the air conditioner. Not necessarily in that order. While I was watching the replay of the Olympics opening ceremonies and working on the internet, there was a knock at the door. It was the housekeeper and her daughter, here to service my room. I asked her to just service the bathroom, so I could have a clean towel (that I hadn’t washed in a bucket).
She noticed that I had the Olympics on TV, so she sat down to watch with me. I didn’t invite her to and she was supposed to be working, but we’re casual and friendly here in Samoa. Besides, the Olympics only come around every four years. We watched together and chatted for about ten minutes and then she got to work. I realized after she left that she’d taken my dirty towel but hadn’t left a new one.
After the opening ceremonies were over, I decided to brave the heat and walk to a couple of nearby grocery stores to get the goodies I’d come to Apia for. At Citimart I scored not just the olives and hot peppers I was looking for but also two boxes of…drum roll, please…Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – Original Recipe. Wow. Sure, it was $2.20 USD a box and I remember back when I was in college and dinosaurs walked the earth and it was only $.20 a box but still, a bargain.
I headed off to Farmer Joe’s to see what further palagi food delights I could find. My hope was that some of the cheese was approaching its expiration date. In the past I’ve gotten wonderful cheese for a couple of bucks because the normally priced $30 stuff was due to expire the next day. Really, how can you tell when bleu cheese expires? I crapped out on the cheese but scored on yogurt. I don’t even usually bother to look at yogurt. I can’t fathom paying $20 for a four-pack of individual servings. But $.75 for each individual serving? You bet. I only bought two since I can’t take them back to Savaii without spoilage.
After more time in my air conditioned hotel room, it was time to fetch dinner. And what could be better than pizza? I got another young, friendly taxi driver, who waited with me for the pizza to finish cooking. We went through the normal questioning process. Him: “Are you married?” Me: “No.” Him: “Do you have children?” Me: “No.” Him: Looking me up and down as he considered the situation…”How old are you?” Me: “61”. Him: “Oka.” (sort of like saying, holy crap) Me: “How old are you?” Him: “23.” Me: “You’re a baby.” Him: “Yes.”
What a wonderful palagi weekend away from the village. Now I just have to figure out how to pack all my groceries into my suitcase.