It was three weeks ago now that Cale and I had a mini-vacation on the beach at FaoFao. It was the time of year for the Methodist Conference again, so school was cancelled.
I just did a blog search and discovered I have never explained the Methodist Conference before, so let me do that now.
Every year each flavor of Christianity in Samoa has its own conference that brings together representatives from the villages of Samoa and the expatriate Samoan community abroad. The only one I am not sure about is the Catholics. Obviously, I am not invited to this conference, so I am not really sure what goes on, but I can tell you what I do know.
I know that at some point in the two-week-long event jobs are assigned or reassigned. That is how the first principal at my school was reassigned to a parish in New Zealand and the pastor of that parish became my new principal. This year one of the ministers that works at the Board of Education (and drove the truck to pick up all the computesr) was assigned to a parish in New Zealand, he leaves in less than two weeks. I also know there is lots of singing and dancing.
So there you go, the Methodist conference.
Anyway, Cale and I headed out to FaoFao for four nights instead of sticking around our village, where the entire village community was busy with something that didn't involve us.
When we left for FaoFao on Thursday we met up with Tetsuya in Apia. We were all going to catch a bus together, but after walking around town with all our baggage in the rain (to pick up some more gorceries) we decided to just call Dani (our favourite cab driver). It rained all Thursday while we were there, but that was OK with me. It was still very relaxing.
I was a little surprised to discover FaoFao so busy when we arrived. They were literally packed to the gills and then some. Since the last time we had been there, they had added an additional row of fale in front of the original ones. These new fales are smaller and square and on stilts. The block the ocean view of the old fale a little and they were built on the nice soft sandy part of the beach where I used to lay on my blanket. Now the only available beach is within the reach of the tide, so there is lots of shells and rocks and coral on it. I was a little disappointed.
The other surprise was the reason FaoFao was packed to the gills. There were lots and lots of palagi in the meeting hall singing in Samoan. I was greatly confused. As luck would have it, Cale picked up the paper before we left and there a story in there talking about a group from New Zealand, Australia and England that sing church music and travel around learning church music from other places. They were called Sing About. According to the story they specialise in Black Gospel music. I had a hard time with that. A bunch of white folk from Kiwiland, Oz and England specialising in Black Gospl music?
On Friday we were joined by Erik and John and a good time was had by all. Tetsuya left on Saturday morning, but we added Matt to our numbers that afternoon.
The main adventure of the vacation was the cooking. Typically, when you stay at a fale, the price you pay includes breakfast and dinner. However, we were paying a reduced price and had brought our own food. Cale and I had brought lots of breads, crackers, tinned soups/beans, some hotdogs, cheese and salami. We quickly discovered the rats like to get in to the food, even if you have hung it from the ceiling to protect from the ants. We lost a sleeve of crackers to the rat the first night and a hot dog bun the second night. We also lost some buns to mold by day three and we lost the cheese and remaining salami to a sorry excuse for a cooler and some ferocious ants.
Erik turned our cook-out into a gourmet adventure. He brought kababs. He brought the makings of chicken wraps. He brought a lot of fancy foods. We were getting a late start on cooking each night, so on Sunday night we decided to start at 4pm. However, come 7 pm and we are still not eating. There were fire issues and we were just not successfully heating the chicken. Finally, John asked the ladies from FaoFao if we could use their kitchen instead of the fire pit to cook the chickens. The ladies came out, took the chicken legs away and returned later with fully cooked chicken. It was super nice of them to do that, especially because we weren't paying them for food.
Monday morning the boys got up early and caught a bus at 6am. Cale and I didn't have school that day, so we didn't worry about catching the early bus. We had heard about a 10 am bus and planned to catch that one. After we were up and packed Cale asked after the bus again and this time was told 11 am. It was 9 am now, so we thought we would sit back, read and wait. At about 10:30 we sat by the side of the road to wait for a bus.
The owners of FaoFao were concerned, telling us that the 11 am bus doesn't aways come. We were offered a ride into town with the pickup truck that was going to the store. Unfortunately, Peace Corps rules do not allow us to ride in the back of a truck (unless their are seat belts...the liklihood of which is nil). So we just settled back and pulled out our books.
Around 11:30 am we were joined by a German tourist who was staying at some fale down the road. We all waited for a bus together. At noon we accepted there was no 11 am bus, but there was rumor of a 1 pm bus, so we waited.
At 1:30 pm Cale called Dani to come pick us up. Dani's taxi stand is near Apia, so he was an hour away. We continued to wait. At 2:30 pm (about 10 minutes before Dani arrived) a bus came by. Dammit, we knew Dani was on the way.
Long bus-wait story short, we finally arrived in Apia by taxi after 4 pm. Cale, the German girl (Stephi) and I immediately went to Italiano's for pizza. It was the first food we had had that day other than a masi popo (coconut biscuit) from 9 am.
After food we taxied home to wait for the arrival of Peace Corps volunteers from Tonga who were staying with us and to begin the Tale of the Computer Donation.