Our COS conference wasn't all sessions and hot showers. We also had a good time. It was nice to spend a good two days together. When you go through two months of training with such a small group of people, you get to know everyone very well. In Samoa we have the benefit of all living relatively close to each other (in the grand scheme of things) so we still see each other quite frequently. However, we are rarely all together at the same time. It takes an EST (early service training) or a MSC (mid-service conference) to get back together.
Right away when we arrived we had lunch. We discovered that government rules will not allow government employees to charge a meal to Big Brother unless the employee has been away from home for 12 hours. So our APCD was going to have to pay for his own lunch. I took up a collection from the group, so we could shout him his meal. We were having some sort of tomato-based mussel and other creepy sea creatures soup and tuna fish sandwiches. If figure, we can get soup and a sandwich in town for like $15 tala, I will collect $40 since this is a fancy place. Boy was I wrong! That soup and sandwich meal was $72 tala! Outrageous.
We were a little complainy about the food for the entire conference. Not because it was bad, it was fine (not, you know, awesome or anything) but because the portions were so small and we were given no choices. After living in Samoa for two years, we are used to Samoan-sized portions. I think the ones we were served were fat-camp-sized. Maybe someone decided we all needed to be on a diet.
Thursday night most of the group gathered on our porch and talked into the night. I had to give up and fell asleep on the couch with a National Geographic before the evening came to an end.
There was a bit of controversy the next morning. We were staying at Coconuts on some sort of special, pre-arranged deal. We were not entitled to all the Coconuts freebies (like the kayaks or the drinks that come with the meal plan). However, we were all told repeatedly when we were shown to our rooms that the beverages in the mini-fridges were free. Incredulous, many of us asked again. In the Cale and my case, the man who showed us the room, went to so far as to show us the laminated instructions on what to do with the rubbish from the free beverages in the mini-fridge when you are done.
Let's be honest, we are at a resort and someone has put a carafe of free wine and two free beers in all of our fridges? Of course we drank them. The shocker came the next day when the resort insisted they were not free for us. Seeing has how they charge $6.30 for what is usually a $4 tala small beer in town, we didn't even want to imagine what they were charging for the box wine in the carafe. None of us were willing to pay, but we didn't want to cause a scene for the Peace Corps, so PC staff talked to the front desk about the situation. The resort agreed not to charge for the drinks since we were all told repeatedly they were free.
I once again felt childish for running to the office to deal with the situation for me. As a grown person, I could have handled it myself. It would have gone a little like this, "I was told this is free, I am not paying for it. End of story." However, I am representing the Peace Corps and my credit card is not on the bill, the office's card is, so I couldn't really make that decision.
I got a chance to hang out in the pool two or three times and expose my mid-section (and because I forgot my shorts) my upper thighs to the sun. I try to avoid wearing my bikini without shorts. Since I lost all the weight, the bottoms hang off me now and Cale has pointed out that if I am not careful, I can give the world a peep show. So I keep the shorts on.
Overall, we are not a very rowdy group, so it was mostly chill on the porch or at the (much, much cheaper) bar next door. And a good time was had by all.
PS. The Way Back Machine.
PPS. Check more pictures here.