Thursday, July 17, 2008
Operation Vacation...Mission Not Accomplished
The failure of our vacation began weeks and weeks ago. Cale and I had been talking about going to Pago Pago in American Samoa during part of our school break. The South Pacific Art Festival was beginning there and I needed to find some clothes that fit me. However, Cale learned that they don't have Guinness in Pago (or even Bud Light for that matter apparently). And so the plans for Pago were scrapped.
Then Gal invited us to go to Namua with him. Namua is a small, uninhabited island off the southeastern coast of Upolu by Gal's site. There are beach fales there and Gal made a reservation for himself, us and Matt. The plan was to leave early on Friday (the last day of school), since I didn't have any classes and Cale's students were done with their display work (post and pictures on that to come soon). We would catch a bus or cab to Gal's site. Then Cale and I would spend the night at one of the resort fales in Lalomanu. On Saturday at 2pm we would catch the ferry to Namua and relax in the sun. It would be lovely.
However, things started to go wrong right from the beginning. I wasn't able to leave my school very early on Friday because I was helping another teacher in a computer lab. Then Matt was unable to make it to Apia early because the buses at his site didn't run at the correct times (if there is such a thing as the correct time). By the time we made it by cab to Gal's site it was dark. Cale and I decided to just sleep at Gal's. It would mean sleeping on the floor, but that is fa'aSamoa.
Just the day before, Gal's school had completed a fence project. The fence encloses all of the school property in chain link and barbed wire, but until recently it did not have a gate. When we arrived at his school compound, the gate was locked up tight, but the keeper of the key was hanging out nearby and let us into the school grounds. After some unpacking in Gal's house we headed out to see his pule to get the key to his new computer lab. Our journey was cut short when we found ourselves locked onto the school grounds. After a brief discussion, the fence was climbed and off we went to see the pule.
The next morning we spent a couple of hours in Gal's new computer lab setting up the computers. We also got to witness the pig chasing dance. One of the reasons for the fence around the school was to keep the pigs out. However, the gate was left unlocked for us and the pigs found their way in. We got to watch as the head of the school committee and several children chased piglets around the school grounds and did strange dance moves to herd them out the gate.
When we were done in the lab we headed out on a walk to Lalomanu, where rumor had it there was a "good" hamburger to be had at one of the beach fale resorts. We hadn't gone far before we encountered some trouble. We walked past the launching point for Namua island (where, we were told we could catch a ferry around high tide, which was about 2 pm). The place was crawling with palagi who told us they were going to the island for the night. We looked at each other worriedly. There were only 10 fales on the island and there were enough palagi in this group to fill all those fales. Gal attempted to track down the woman with whom he had made the reservations to no avail. So then he crossed the street to ask another member of the family. That was when we learned we had lost our spots on the island to this palagi group (darn tourists). Of course we found this information off putting; Gal in particular since he was heading back to America on Monday and this was his last chance to see the island. However, we decided just to pick up our things from Gal's and head to Lalomanu as planned. Instead of just staying for lunch, we would rent a couple of fales there instead.
Lalomanu was also crawling with palagi and once again we looked at each other worriedly. Inquiries were made at the resort where we had our lunch (hamburgers, yes. good? that is another question), but they were booked solid. Inquires were made at the resort next door, they had one fale free due to a cancellation, but wanted $100 tala per person and would only accept three people (we were four). Inquiries were made at FaoFao (via phone), a resort a cab ride away, but they too were full. Gal even double check with the Namua to see if our reservations had just been confused. But no, there wasn't a fale to be found on this side of the island.
We caught a cab back to Gal's where we dined on chicken and rice. We spent the night sharing music. It is hard to explain. One person would play one song on their iPod and mid-way through someone else would have come up with an "have you heard this one" song in their play list. At any given time we had four songs waiting in the queue to be played and we discovered all sorts of awesome new tunes. I think my favorite of the night was an album called Rewind 4 and I highly recommended it to anyone.
Then it was back to bed on the floor. The next morning Cale awoke with bug bites all over his arm and by late that day, early the next morning I had discovered similar bites all over my face and neck. We are guessing they are ant bites, as they do not appear to be mosquitoes bites.
That morning I took my first official bucket shower in Samoa (Gal's site does not have running water, just a water tank by the house). Then we caught a cab into Apia. The cab ride was $70 tala and we subsidized the ride of an entire Samoan family that crowded into the taxi van with us. Poor Matt, who sat in the back, caught some splash on his foot when one of the children puked not once, but twice on the ride into town. After a quick stop at the grocery store, Matt headed back to our village with us for the night. The next morning I was up by 6 am for my first computer class during the break at 8am.
And that, in a nutshell, is our failure to have a vacation. Maybe we will try again soon.
P.S. Oh, and the weather was overcast, windy, rainy and cold the entire time anyway.
Posted by Cale