Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

I am walking into school this morning. I see the vice principal. He reminds me that I have to bring something for garble garble garble tomorrow. The garbles being what I didn't understand. That is ok. I am used to this. Faamavae (going away), faalavelaves (supposedly any big life event like weddings and funerals, but always funerals in my experience). They all involved bringing in money. Usually $20 or $30 tala. So I ask how much.

That is when things start to fall apart. More garbles that lead me to believe that we are gifting a pregnant woman or a woman who recently had a baby with one of those tubs you wash babies in. This is not totally surprising to me, because I have seen said things in country. I am told I should bring soap. This is also not surprising to me, as I have frequently been gift with clothes soap.

At the beginning of 5th period a student comes around to all the teachers with a note that says teachers are reminded to bring some thing tomorrow for garble's vaita'ele. I am confused. Vaita'ele means pool. This must have something to do with the tub. I ask my counterpart, who I am standing with, what I should bring. "Soap," responds my counterpart and the student with the note.

It is the end of the day and everyone is preparing to leave. I am still trying to clarify this soap bringing thing. I ask another computer teacher what he is bringing. "Soap," he says. "Like Cold Power?" I ask. No. No. Soap for a baby. It is vaita'ele for a baby. "Doesn't vaita'ele mean pool?" I ask. And as I am asking this it hits me.

We are having a baby shower tomorrow! A BABY SHOWER! Soap! For a baby! Everyone is bringing soap to this baby shower. I wonder if we will actually be cleaning a baby tomorrow. I wonder just how much the concept of baby shower has been transferred. 

I will keep you updated on the developments. Right now I have to wander down to my local faleoloa and see if they have any soap. for a baby.

— Sara


Jordan said...

I am laughing so hard!! Awesome entry! I've never heard of a samoan baby shower: I wonder if it will be like a wedding, where really, the baby and mother don't get much of the soap at all, rather, it's redistributed to the most important people there, leaving your principal and vice principal with a whole lot of baby soap, and said baby with very little.
p.s. I don't remember seeing baby soap, ever. Do they have any?

annette said...

what a funny story - weird that it is actually true! will there be towels?
can't wait to hear the 'rest of the story'

Jane said...


I love this story. Also, while Matt's blogs are great, so are yours. I look forward to reading all the PC blogs each day and yours is one of my favorites.

Paul's Mom, Jane