Monday, November 30, 2009

Lots of New Pics on the Flickr

— Sara

0: This Is It

Our last day in Samoa. At 11:58 pm tonight we will be on a plane to LA.

I thought I would catch you up a little on what has been going on, since we have been to busy and without internet.

Tuesday was Cale's faamavae lunch at his school that I mentioned before. I was invited as well. That night I was up until 1 am working on the textbook project.

Wednesday the school magazine was finally delivered. It was successfully printed! I do take issue with the quality thought. I specifically asked them how they would be printing it and they said they were going to print it off the laser printer they showed me. However, they definitely photo-copied it. The also told me that they would trim the white edges off the cover so it would have full-bleed and they did not. Finally, there was the issue of the number that they printed. Originally they claimed it would be $25 tala per magazine. For our $3,800 that was about 150 magazines. Then they told one of the ministers at the school they would print for $9 tala each. That would be more than 400 magazines. Later then went back on that deal and said the price would be $25 each, but they would make a present of more. The more was never specified. Even later they told the principal they would print 300 for oru $3,800. However, when the finally arrived there were only 200. Whatever, it is done.

After school I went to visit with Ryan and work on the textbook more.

Wednesday night was the night before Prize-Giving at my school. Traditionally, the Prize-Giving committee stays at the school practically all night sorting and wrapping the prizes. I passed the grunt work of the prize-giving program off to the school secretary this year, but she still asked if I could be the person who was there that night to add in the sponsors, as she had to sew uniform puletasi for people to wear to the prize-giving the next morning. I told her to tell the committee to come get me from my house when they were ready. I knew if it was anything like last year, it was going to take all night to figure out what prizes were going where and last minute donations would arrive late in the night. I finally went over to the school at 9 pm to help wrap prizes and wait for the donor list. At 2 am I was still at the school trying to print out all the programs. A member of the prize-giving committee insisted I go home, even though I wasn't finished. She said that she would be in early in the morning with the school secretary and finishe printing and folding.

When I arrived at 7:30 am on Thursday the prize-giving committee member wasn't there. So the school secretary and I printed and folded until after 9 am. The Prize-Giving started at 8 am. So we missed the beginning. The prize-giving went off without a hitch. The DUX (what they calle the valedictorian here) was also my top computer studies student. I distributed letters of recommendation and flash drives to all my Year 13 students.

Thursday night our host family came to our house with food and we all ate together. That was nice.

Friday was Cale's Prize-Giving. However, I missed that because I spent the day holed up in my computer lab finishing the textbook project. While I was in the room I heard applause and singing and wandered outside to discover I missed the final school assembly of the year. Some students as they were leaving stopped into the computer lab and gave me some necklaces.

After school all the teachers were taken out by the principal. One of the teachers made a speech thanking me and they gifted me an envelope with $200 tala in it. Funny story about the lunch. I orginally had my exit interview for the Peace Corps scheduled at 3pm that day, but we didn't even leave for the lunch until 1 pm. Luckily Cale called to say that we were rescheduled for Monday. However, after we had been at the venue for a while with no food, the principal's wife decided to use my now rescheduled meeting (she knew it was rescheduled) to try to hurry along to food, saying that Sara has to leave soon. However, they only brought out food for the principal and me, which foiled her plan and put me in an awkward position of telling him that I didn't have to leave when he tried to give me a ride right after we finished eating.

That night we had dinner with John at the Yacht Club.

Saturday we came into Apia and shopped for souvenirs. Then at 3pm we went to the Charge's house for Thanksgiving. It was beautiful. I ate turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans, and stuffing and corn and pumpkin pie and apple pie. And I was stuffed. Afterwards Cale went out with some other volunteers but I was tired and overfull, so I hung around the peace corps office.

Sunday we packed up all our stuff and I met with my principal at the school to give him all the details on the computer labs. I made a couple of "how-to" sheets for the computers and saved it to the desktop of the server. Then we packed up everything that was left into a taxi and came into Apia. We spent the night at Hanna's.

Now it is Monday morning. We still have our exit interview and Cale is repacking all our bags for maximum efficiency. Tonight is dinner at Italiano's and then taxi to the airport where we will most likely be seen off by our principal's and the family of one of Cale's students.

See ya'll in America.

- Sara

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2: We Have No Internet

We don't have the internets at home anymore, so these entries will be short. I promise to write about Prize-Giving soon. Today is our thanksgiving celebration.

More later

- Sara

Friday, November 27, 2009

3: What the heck happened

So, you ever go to a store, and look around, and get distracted, and still just keep looking around. Looking, and looking, and looking for a long time and gettnig distracted over and over again, and then finally its time to leave the store because you sold somebodey else tat you would meet them. And so you leave, and you wonder to yourself as you walk towareds the door -
What was it again that I came here for?
Just asking.
Cause that never happens to me.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

4: ...And Then the Gas Ran Out

Cooking in the electric tea kettle

Wednesday Cale was making macaroni and cheese. Or should I say macarrones y queso (it's spanish here, I don't know why). But, man, that water just wasn't boiling. Oh! I see, the gas it out. Brillant. Five days to go and we cannot cook anymore.

Then I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. Put the noodles in the electric tea kettle and then just keep pressing the button to keep it boiling. Brilliant in theory, less brilliant in practise.

Other electric tea kettles have large openings and would work just like those little water-boiler things we had in college for making ramen. This one, however, was specifically designed to keep particles from getting out. It has a small opening to put the water in, a small opening for the water to pour out and screens over them to keep crap from getting in and out. Once we had the noodles in and boiled, we had a heck of a time getting them out.

— Sara

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5: The Last Hump Day

Well this is it - hump day.  After this one, the rest of our service should just fly by. And don't tell anyone, but i think were are going to knock off early on friday so - even shorter!


p.s. - our internet access will get pretty spotty starting tomorrow - the time has come to sever our services

6: Last Tuesday

Today is it, I won't be seeing another Tuesday in Samoa. I better get all my Tuesday stuff in.

At the Host Family

Yesterday afternoon we went to visit our host family for what we thought was the last time. We took Cale's bike to give to them as a parting gift. Our host mom was pretty insistent we have a last dinner with them, so we will be back in to have dinner with them on Thursday after my Prize-Giving.

Final Group 79 Dinner

We also had our last dinner as Group 79. Well, sort of. Erik and Max weren't at the dinner, but we will see them at Thanksgiving on Saturday. This was the last time we will see Rosie in Samoa. She headed back to Savaii and won't be coming back in for Thanksgiving.

Cale's Faamavae Lunch

Tuesday Cale's school had a lunch for him and invited me. His pule gave a wonderful speech about how we will both be missed. There was food and Cale' students gave both of us some parting gifts. The sewing instructor also made us one last set of matching clothes, you cannot have too many matching outfits.

— Sara

PS. I finally got around to posting this after midnight, so this is really Day 5 now, but I won't tell if you won't tell.

Monday, November 23, 2009

7: Beautiful Samoa


Beautiful Samoa by Mr. Tee is a popular song and the unofficial national anthem of the country. Living in the suburbs of Apia, it is easy for one to forget just how beautiful Samoa is. Saturday Cale, Erik and I took a drive to check out some of those beautiful sights us Apia volunteers rarely see. Driving around, I found myself a little jealous of Group 82. They are all going to rural sites. They are spending their training in a village right next to this waterfall. One of them is posted to the village that has the view below.

Lovely Scenery

After we saw these beautiful things we went to FaoFao on the south side and saw something that was beautiful in a different way. Our friends at FaoFao are rebuilding as fast as they can. They are the only beach fales rebuilding on the south side right now and they hope to be up and running within two weeks. Va'a pointed out that it is easier for them because no one in their village died in the tsunami. The other fales and villages are having a harder time moving back to the sea and starting over. FaoFao on the other hand is determined to rise from the wreckage. They have had a lot of outside help. Cale and I dropped off a donation from Cale's mother and aunt. It will go towards rebuilding the hall or the bathroom facilities.

FaoFao Rebuilds

If you are planning a trip to Samoa, I highly recommend you work FaoFao into your trip. These guys need all the support they can get. When we were down there we met up with a couchsurfer who had emailed me earlier. His trip to Samoa for fishing and snorkeling was set before the tsunami and he didn't want to cancel. However, now he was interested in helping out. He hooked up with John the Welder and John directed him to FaoFao where he is staying and lending a helping hand in constructing new fale.

More later.

— Sara

Sunday, November 22, 2009

8: A Death in the Family

Yesterday, Saturday 21 November, my PepPep Hoffman passed away in West Virginia. He had been ill for quite a while now and his health had been deteriorating rapidly in the last few days.

We are so close to the end of our Peace Corps service, but not close enough for me to be there for the funeral in Pennsylvania. It will most likely be the Saturday after Thanksgiving, two days before Cale and I fly to America.

Part of me is torn. I could get on plane tomorrow (the only flight to America between now and the flight we take on the 30th) and be home in time for the funeral, but what I would have to do to make that flight would be insane. Also, if I flew out tomorrow, I wouldn't be coming back to Samoa. Instead of an end of good-byes and planned events, I would do frenzied packing and make a made dash to a plane. I would miss my school's Prize-Giving and any opportunities to say good-bye to anyone here. I would leave work unfinished. My textbook wouldn't be done, the two school computer labs wouldn't be completely prepared for next year, I wouldn't know if the magazine was successfully printed.

My mom insists that staying in Samoa is the obvious choice. She was torn about even telling me, knowing that it would cause me more stress and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it. I am glad that she told me though. She says that Grandma is busy with the funeral preparations today, but I can call her this week. I would have felt like such a jerk if I hadn't been told and never called Grandma during this time.

So once again, here I am on the other side of the world, helpless.

— Sara

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flash Drive Drive Update

A big thank you (THANK YOU) goes out to the following people. They either gave flash drives or money to my mother who then sent us a bulk package of 37 flash drives bringing the total to 57! It was a close call with the package arriving only a week before Prize-Giving.

Barb and Tom Carusillo
Chris Pitzer
Brenda Lear
Marilyn Sisil
Amanda Kutoloski
Jan Bryant
Marilyn O'Bannon
Anne Corcoran
Steve Anslinger
Greg and Cynthia Daniels
Sarah and Nick Klingler
John and Laura Noel
Kim Ort
Ellen Izzadore
Sean Izzadore
Kathy Johnson

— Sara

Thursday, November 19, 2009

11: Breaking Down and Buying Toothpaste

The toothpaste situation was actually pretty dire weeks ago. However, yesterday morning I had to cut the toothpaste tube open so I could swirl my brush around inside to gather a little paste together so I could clean my teeth.

Seriously, we need toothpaste.

When you are fast approaching the end, you don't really want to be making maintenance purchases. You wonder to yourself, it is only X more days, I can make it without right?

I ran out of deodorant two weeks ago and had to break down and buy more. We have no q-tips, we have no conditioner, my face wash is on it's last leg. Recently, Cale dug through the box of stuff we took into the office several weeks ago for tsunami victims and found the bar of soap our couch surfer had donated and brought it home. We had been out of soap for like a week. I had been using shampoo all over. I haven't shaved since September, no razor blades.

We never replaced our Mortien when it ran out months ago. We used to Mortien the house once a month. It did wonders at keeping the ants at bay. Our last Mortien was a long time ago and you can tell. The ants are waging war and they are winning. We fear they will carry us or the house away before we can leave. But who wants to spend $12 tala on a can of Mortien when we leave in 11 days?

The ant problem is really a compound problem. They are leaving their little piles everywhere. At first I tried to sweep them up every, but it wasn't just back the next day, it was back the next five minutes. So I stopped. But now the piles are growing out of control. I attack the publicly visible ones every couple of days or so, but there is one that is growing under the toilet bowl brush holder (peaking around the edges) which I am just ignoring. I don't know how long I can ignore it though, as the spiders have found it and have built all their webs around the area in hope of an ant meal.

Since I am already letting the ant piles go, why not just let everything go. I last mopped a month ago before our couch surfer arrived. I cannot remember the last time I scrubbed the bathroom. Since the couch surfer has been in the extra bedroom all this time, I am not even sure what is going on in there. She did put some water shoes and a blanket from the closet outside because she discovered they were swarming with ants in the process of moving eggs. We get that sometimes here, an insane swarm of ants moving eggs to start a new colony. Also good sign it is time to Mortien.

Can I make it another 11 days with out breaking down and buying the things we are out of or cleaning something? I think that I can.

— Sara

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

12: It's a Two-Way Street

There was a recent comment to Cale's M. Night Shallam a Llama post about our night terror with a twist. How could we be living in Samoa and not know there was a David Tua fight that night. That shit was HUGE!

They make an excellent point. This is my answer:

No TV. No radio. No Samoan friends. I have been in Samoa for two years and the Samoan I know the best might be our taxi driver and I don't even know him that well since I always sit in the back seat. Cale is the one that talks with him.

It is very easy to blame my lack of integration on external forces.

We live in a very unique situation. We live in
the headquarters of Samoan Methodism. It's like living in the Methodist Vatican. Samoan social society is divided along gendered lines and centered around groups of people who all share the same status. There are the matai men and the untitled men, there's the women's committees and the youth groups. When you fit into one of these groups there are always organized activities going on to participate in and a way to bond with the other people in the group. Cale and I don't fit into any groups in our village. Because we are married, we are no longer youths and are not in the youth group. However, all the married women in our village are the wives of Methodist ministers and their women's committee is church-centered. I am not the wife of a Methodist minister, so I don't fit. Cale fits even less by not being a Methodist minister, which all the married men in our village are.

Also our village is only a stone's throw from Apia, so it was easy for us to hop a bus into town and do our own thing rather than stay in the village and try to participate in village life.

However, it is not fair for me to place all the blame outside of myself. I have never been a particularly social person. It takes me a long time to get used to and warm up to new people. I usually spend the beginning hanging around awkwardly on the edges slowly becoming accustomed to the new people. It wasn't like I was going to come to Samoa and suddenly become a social butterfly.

Typically Peace Corps volunteers are single and remote and to save their sanity and stave off loneliness they must make friends locally. Cale and I are two and urban. I already had someone waiting for me everyday when I came home from work to talk to and a whole host of other Apia-based volunteers were a 15-minute bus ride away.

Also, the first year at my school was particularly difficult. Under the principal of my school that year (who is no longer the principal) the school had fallen in to disrepair and the general attitude was one of apathy and half-heartedness. In response to this I threw myself into my work, spending most (if not all) of my time in the school computer labs alone or with students. This meant that I never spent much time with the staff and never formed any friendships. Granted, the situation changed dramatically in the second year with a new principal and new staff members that I now know I could have been friends with. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it until it all seemed too late.

If I were to do Peace Corps again I would know better. I would demand a remote location. Close-by high-speed internet and easily accessible cheese be damned! I would also demand a host family. Even if I lived in my own housing, I would insist that the Peace Corps assign me a local family that would be willing to take me under their wing. Even if later I branched out to find and make my own friends and family, at least I would start out with someone I knew would be willing to invite me over for dinner sometimes.

— Sara

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

13: Pe'a (Flying-fox)


When we first came to Samoa I remember reading somewhere or being told that the flying-fox was the largest indigenous mammal on the islands when people arrived. In fact, bats are the only native mammals to the islands.

It is easy tell that it has a revered status in Samoan culture, this large fruit bat and the traditional male tattoo share the same name, pe'a. The tattoo is meant to look as if the bat has wrapped itself around the man's body, the two lines curving around the ribs represent the ears of the bat. Considering that the pe'a covers more than 60% of the body, those bats must have been huge back in the day.

I don't want to offend anyone with the crudely drawn penis in this picture. However you can just make out the lines coming around the front near the ribs and the very top of the tattoo on the back, which is also the ears of the bat (and a canoe).
Photo credit

I also know that bat is a delicacy here and photographs have informed me that it is still eaten. I am not sure how common it still is. It was once hunted to the verge of extinction.

My internet research (that's right folks, you too could be me with a little of the old Googles) on bats in Samoa led me to a story about the legendary Samoan woman warrior,
Nafanua, being saved by a giant flying fox. Nafanua just happens to be the name of my house at school. In a very progressive turn, my school has named all its houses after the women of Samoan legends.


I don't know if the bat you see in these pictures is a flying fox. I believe there are three different types of bats in Samoa. However, this is the first one I have seen one in person, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about them.

— Sara

Sunday, November 15, 2009

15: Last Trip to Savaii

Siapo Craftswoman

That's it. We will never see Savaii again unless we come back to visit Samoa. Two whole years and we still failed to see the blowholes.

We left for Savaii on Thursday morning and for the first time ever actually made the boat we were aiming for. It is nice not to spend an unexpected two hours (or more) at the wharf.

I would like to take this opportunity to tout the wonders of ginger. Up until now Cale and I had been taking motion-sickness medication for our boat trips to Savaii. At first we followed the instructions to take it one hour before travel, only to discover it left us practically incapacitated with drowsiness (just as Annette) and didn't so much alleviate the gross feelings as muffle them. Later we learned to take the medication the night before, which meant we slept like rocks that night and weren't as drowsiness the next day. However, we were still left with this underlying gross feeling and strange sensations of being out of it. Thanks to the recommendation of our friends Marco and Marie Ines, on this last trip to Savaii we abandoned the medication and replaced it with raw ginger. We simply cut up some tiny pieces of ginger and swallowed them whole. It worked amazingly well. On the boat ride to Savaii I experienced absolutely no nausea and felt just fine when we disembarked.

Ginger, it has the Reeves seal of approval.

We spent Thursday night at Lusia's. Once again it was lovely. They were all booked out of the lagoon fales, so they actually set us up in the open fale the sign claims is the spa. Apparently, all it takes to have a spa is a hut and some tables. Things have changed a little bit at Lusia's. The food prices continue to rise and the menu selection has changed for the worse. It used to be managed by a Filipino family and there were Filipino foods on the menu. Now the menu has switched back to your typical Samoan-restaurant-for-palagi fare: fish and chips, chicken and chips, burger, stir-fry, curry, the like.

Friday morning we got up and caught a bus to Max's. We were so close to having our own seats on the bus, but didn't quite make it. I ended up on Cale's lap as usual.

At Max's we spent the morning hanging out on the beach at the beach fales waiting for Max to return from proctoring an exam in Asau. Because there were so many older Samoan women around and we were not paying to stay the night at the fales, I didn't feel comfortable getting in the water, so I just lay in the sand listening to This American Lifes on the iPod.

There is something about Max's village that is like kryptonite for me. It always seem hotter and less breezy than anywhere else in Samoa (except our training village of course) and I always find myself lying, powerless against sleep in a pool of sweat.

After Max's return we went to his house while he went to a primary school to help a teacher out. It ended up taking longer than he anticipated and I continued to lie in a pool of sweat in his room for two hours. When he returned he was surprised he had stayed in his room that entire time.

"It's so hot in there," he said.

He was also surprised we hadn't asked his host family for the lime we said we would need for the guacamole we intended to make and had not given them the food we had brought as a gift. In fact, the entire time we waited in his room we had not interacted with his family, except to sneak across the dining room to the bathroom and when one of the children had brought us a plate of pineapple.

The trouble is that in our two years of living in the suburbs of Apia not really interacting with our neighbors, we have not developed any appropriate village coping skills. If we had village skills we would have laid in the open fale in front of the family's house to avoid the heat of Max's room. Or we would have gone out back to where the family was hanging out and talked to them. Or something. But instead, we hid, waiting for Max.

When Max returned we went on a walk to another village to meet the woman who was making a siapo for Erik. You see, the main goal of this trip to Savaii was siapo.

Erik's Siapo

Some of our friends and family received siapo from us as Christmas presents last year. In those gifts we included this explanation:
Painted cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. It is widely known as tapa cloth, though the word tapa is of Tahitian origin.

The patterns of Samoan tapa usually form a grid of squares, each of which contain geometrical patterns with repeated motifs such as fish and plants. A common theme is four stylized leaves forming a diagonal cross. Traditional dyes are usually black and rust-brown, although other colors are also used.

Group 82 Welcome Fiafia
Rosie wears siapo as the taupo.

The cloth was once primarily used for clothing, but now cotton and other textiles have replaced it. Tapa cloth is not ideal for clothing because the tissue is similar to paper and loses its strength when wet and falls apart. Today tapa is still worn on formal occasions such as weddings. It is also highly prized for its decorative value and is often found as wall hangings.

...The mulberry trees are cut and stripped of bark. These strips are about a hand-length wide and 5-6 feet long. The bark consists of two layers. The outer bark is scraped or split off from the inner layer. The outer bark is discarded and the inner bark. This inner bark is then dried in the sun before being soaked. Next the bark is beaten on a wooden anvil using wooden mallets. In the beating the bark is made thinner and spread out to a width of about 25 cm. When the strips are thin enough, several strips are gathered together and beaten into a large sheet.
There is a lot of information about siapo to be found on the internet. is an excellent source of information.

There is also
this site out of New Zealand that will donate $10 to the tsunami relief fund for every siapo sold.

This article from ABC Australia mentions the very village we went to with Max. This is the place where siapo is made in Samoa.

Strangely enough my alma mater, the University of Missouri, hosts
an informative page on siapo.

Cale wanted to ask an artisan to make him a siapo and then watch the process of making it. Unfortunately, we learned that this was something he should have planned months ago and that it wasn't something that could happen even in the several days we were willing to stay on Savaii. We will have to be happy with the siapo we know we will receive for our faamavae (farewell) or that we buy at the market before we leave.

That night Cale and I stole Max's bed. Since there was no reason to stay for siapo, the next morning we were up early to catch a bus to the wharf. Unfortunately, it was not early enough and we ended up waiting until close to 11 am for the next round of buses. Max had told us there was no noon boat on Saturdays, but we expected to catch the 2 pm boat. Since we were in Salelologa before noon, we headed over to Le Waterfront where we ran into AJ, Phil and Chris for some lunch.

Next we walked over to the wharf and looked around in confusion. It was 1:30 pm. By this time the boat coming from Upolu that would leave Savaii at 2 pm should not only be in sight, but at the dock. There was no boat to be seen. We walked over to the Savaii office where we found Briony. She had talked to Jenny who was supposed to be coming on the noon boat from Upolu. It apparently had not even left until 1 pm. So our 2 pm boat didn't leave until 3 pm.

The weather was pretty crappy outside, overcast, windy, slightly rainy. We knew this was not going to be a fun boat ride. We had just eaten lunch and I wasn't sure how a belly full of fish burger was going to go over. I had swallowed some ginger with lunch and crossed my fingers. About half way through the trip it was particularly choppy and Cale broke out the ginger and cut me off some more pieces. The other boat passengers looked at me strangely, but I don't care because not long after I began to feel less nauseous.

Marie Ines met us at the wharf and took us back to her and Marco's place for a fabulous dinner of tuna; basmati rice and pine nuts; tomato, celery and carrot salad; and taro and palusami. It was all delicious. When we said good-bye to them that night if felt like our first final good-bye. We don't know if we will be seeing them again before we leave in two weeks.

We are closing in on the end now that we are possibly seeing people for the last time. We we ran into the Liz in the office the other day she was heading back to Savaii.

"See you at Thanksgiving," she said. I realized there that this is it, we could accidentally be seeing people for the last time and not know it. What if we don't make it to Thanksgiving. Will we not see the Liz again before we leave Samoa? Cramming everything into the end hard work.

— Sara

(backdated) 16: That baby hates my face

When we were at Max's family's house, the kids developed a sort of game. One of the older kids (maybe 5 or 6), under the direction of one of the even older kids (maybe 18), would bring the little baby around to look at me. 

Her little head was about two feet from mine, but off to one side. When I turned to look at her she would scream and cry. Then the kid would take her away and she would stop. Then he would bring her back.

I didm't turn my head to look at her out of menace, it was just one of those "there is something in the periphery of my vision, I had better check it out" things. I did not turn fast, it was a slow, regular turning. I did not make a scary face, just regular cale-face.

She screamed every time.

I can tell myself that it was some sort of reaction to the cognitive dissonance of "Max is here, and Max is there - there can be only one Max." Or that the baby just felt like crying. But we all know the truth.

That baby hates my face.


(backdated) 17: What has changed about Sara

Before: Bug-phobic. Would beg me to go remove offending insects to the out-of-doors.
After: Once stayed in the bathroom for hours hunting roaches with a shoe (my shoe).

B: Hated camping. Refused to be denied the conveniences of indoor-living.
A: Samoa blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor. We 40% camp every day, punctuated by bouts of beach-fale going.

B: Clean. All surfaces must shine. Floors must be swept. The mop is her friend, his name is Daniel.
A: When the ant-piles get too big, and you must pick dead millipedes off the bottoms of your black-soled feet - consider sweeping.

B: I must make a list of things to do. I must put 'make the list on the list'. I will cross it off as soon as I finish the list.
A: List? That's depressing. Screw it.

B: I should be sitting here with this group of people planning what to do or something.
A: Social lubricant? Bottoms up! Hi - I'm Sara!

B: Cale - what the hell is wrong with this computer?
A: Cale, have you seen that CD with the registry editor? I have to fix another one.

B: Linux is stupid. It is too hard. Just use what everyone else is using.
A: Viruses are the devil. Windows is the devil. Licensing is the devil. Go FOSS/Linux!

B: I know every miniscule detail of all celebrity news ever, updated minutely.
A: Nobel prize for what? The give one of those out every year? What year is it now? 

B: I will eat macaroni and cheese for lunch and mashed potatoes for dinner - unless we have pierogies.
A: This is good palusami! It will go great with my mashed potatoes/pierogies meal!

B: I cannot cook. 
A: Chili or pancakes for dinner?


(backdated) 18: I forgot to mention, there was TERROR

Where we live is about as safe and secure a place as can be found in Samoa. We are hemmed in by ministers and their families. without knowing what the crime rate is in the Vatican, I can say that I would no sooner expect to be the victim of a violent crime here than I would on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica. But one night we were terrified.
It was less than a week after the Tsunami removed the south coast of the island. We had been sleeping only fitfully since then - the frequent aftershocks, and even the rumbling by of trucks on the road in front of our house seemed to herald imminent disaster. We were sleeping - we had gone to bed a little early for the night - and we were awakened by shouting. It sounded like a large dispersed group of young men were fighting. We could tell only that:
A. there were innumerable voices
B. we were essentially surrounded 
C. there was shouting of encouragement to some unknown person beating the tar out of some other unknown person.
D. it was very late and very dark - barring some spectacle all good people should be asleep by now.

We were in our bed, terrified. We heard some of the voices shout what we thought was 'faletua" - the word for the wife of a minister.
What sort of terrible hooligans beat up minister's wives at night?
The worst sort. The sort that chop palagi up into very small pieces and feed them to pigs. 

I tentatively got up, and slipped out of the bedroom to bet the phone. All of the neighbors' lights were on, and all seemed to be quiet in their houses - a comfort. I tip-toed back to the bedroom and locked the door. We slept poorly amid turbulent dreams of battery and what not.

Okay M Night Shama-llama-llama and robot-chicken fans... there's a TWIST!

The next day we read in the newspaper that - and this was huge news all across the front page - David Tua K-O'd his opponent in the second round of their bout the previous night. David TUA (fale-TUA), a native son of Samoa, and the source of much national pride, had spent a few minutes pounding the tar out of some guy - on TV - culminating in a spectacular knockout finish. 

If we had been awake, and at the neighbors' house, we would have cheered also.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

19: I Cannot Declare Victory Yet

You may remember I mentioned I was supposed to take the school magazine to the printer on Friday, but the minister who was going to take me (and had been discussing the price with them) said to wait until Monday.

Monday that minister was proctoring an exam at another school and I was unable to track him down after the exams were finished. I was supplied a cell phone number from the school secretary, but I could not call from school because the school phone can no longer call cell phones. I walked over to Cale's school to use our cell phone. I only had to listen to the voicemail message on the number I dialed for a second before I knew this couldn't be the minister I was trying to reach. The person on the voicemail was bleating like a sheep and talking in silly voices.

I wandered back over to my school and the secretary gave me another number that might be the minister. I called it, a woman answered. I said hello, she said hello, I asked for the reverend, she said what? hello?, I asked for the reverend, she said what? hello? This went on for a little while until she hung up on me.

Next Cale pointed out that he saw my school's prize giving committee van going up the driveway to his school. I had a jar full of money for the school magazine that needed to be deposited, but I had been unable to because the prize giving committee has had the school's account book (you cannot deposit money without the account book). I ran through the rain to catch up with them at Cale's principal's house when I saw the van appear from the other side of Cale's school heading to my school. I ran through the rain towards my school when the van pulled away and went to the board of education office. I changed direction and ran through the rain to the board's office when the van pulled away and left the village. Drat.

With so much failure in the air, I decided I would just go into town myself and try to drop the magazine off at the printers. When I got there I told the lady in charge of the computer that we had agreed to give the Methodist Printing Press a full page ad in exchange for their giving us a deal on the cost of the printing. Did she have the ad? How would she like to add it to the magazine? I could put in the InDesign file and export the PDFs again. I have the PDFs here (I exported as single pages and as printing pairs for a saddle-stitch A3) maybe could can insert the ad in Acrobat?

After some confusion it was established that:
1. She didn't know that the press needed an ad.
2. The press does not have stock ads on hand and she would have to make one.
3. She had no idea what printing pairs were.
4. She only has Acrobat Reader, so she cannot edit the PDF anyway.

It was determined that I would have to come back the next day to get the ad, insert it into the InDesign file and then export again.

I was also asked about the number of copies I wanted. I explained that the reverend had been talking with their manager about the printing costs. I had been told that they had settled on $9 tala a magazine (which was down from the $24 tala they originally quoted) and that we had $3,800 tala to spend. So as many as that money can get us. Everyone looked at me like I was a crazy person. Even the guy the reverend had been talking to mumbled something under his breath about it being $25 tala per magazine. While the lady printed a copy of the magazine out of the printer so I could see what it would look like, this guy disappeared, I think to talk about the price.

Speaking of the printer. So the entire job is going to be printed on what amounts to a nice laser printer. It is a big laser printer, don't get me wrong, but not the sort of thing I imagine that jobs of more than 300 copies of a 64-page magazine are printed one. But what do I know. 

At first the lady tried to print my printing pairs on the A3, but the fourth page got stuck in the printer and it involved two people and some implements to eventually free it. When she switched over to printing the single pages on A4, I asked her to print the entire thing in BW (even the cover which we were getting in color) because I had noticed something odd. When she had printed it the first time, she didn't change any settings. So when the pages came out of the printer, the cover came out in color and all the inside pages, which are black and white, were coming out in four-color black. Talk about a waste of ink. The whole reasons we made the inside pages BW was because it should be cheaper to print BW pages. This was starting to explain to me why the Methodist Printing Press's quote for printing in color and BW were the same. When they print in BW, they are printing in four-color black.

After the pages came out in BW, I showed her the difference between the four-color page and the straight black page. I told her that I would export the magazine as two files. The color cover and the BW inside pages. That way she could print the cover in color and the BW pages in only black. Save the press some ink. I also noticed that the ink went on super heavy and that all the pictures in the magazine were illegibly dark, so I told her I would retone all the images to be lighter, since I was confident this was not something that could be handled on the press's end.

Meanwhile, the man had returned to tell me that the press was not going to print our magazine for only $9 tala each (it was still charging the $24 tala or $25 tala, that was never made clear) and that it would print as many as it could at that price for our $3,800 and then make a gift of some more to the school. They said they had talked to the principal about it. Whatever, I cannot deal with this money thing anymore. It makes my head want to explode. When I wonder why we are printing in BW when they are charging us the color price anyway, I cry a little on the inside.

So by the end of the day on Monday, instead of being done with the magazine, I had more work to do.

I spent Monday night retoning all the pictures.

Tuesday Cale and I went into the office for our COS physicals. It was pretty straight forward, though the doctor did ask me if I was sick, if I had a sore throat or anything. I said no. She declared I had a cold because I had a slight fever and swollen lymph nodes. Go into the doctor's feeling perfectly well for a physical, come out with a cold. Who knew?

Next I made the trek back to the printing press where I discovered that the ad was not ready. Instead the lady scanned in the press's logo (which appears to have been hand drawn with marker) and gave it to me on my flash to make an ad for them. Do you have words that you want in the ad? Oh, no? I can just say whatever I want? How helpful. 

I went outside and made a list of the products listed on their sign. Then Cale and I went to CSL, I whipped together an ad, exported the magazine and went back to the press. I gave the lady the two PDF files. The guy in the room asked when we needed it by. I said that Prize Giving was the 26th and the principal wanted it earlier than that, say the week before? Once again everyone looked at me incredulously. We'll try, the guy said. Rather than question what that meant or argue the point. I decided that I was just going to leave it alone. If they don't print it in time, that is not my fault.

I am not declaring victory until the magazine is actually printed. However, I am washing my hands of it now. It is at the printers. I am going to give my jar of money to the principal and ask him to have it deposited. Then he can sort out with the press what is happening with payment and delivery of the magazine.

— Sara

Monday, November 9, 2009

21: But Where is the Rest of the Cow?

Cow leg

Who knew that being a Peace Corps in Samoa would mean that I would have some many posts about cows?

Like this one

Or this one

This one here

This one is more about
theoretical cows

Sometimes you come home and the dog that has taken to sleeping on your porch has the lower half of a cow leg in the front lawn. Just happens. Perfectly normal. Cannot find hide nor hair of the rest of the cow, but it had to come from somewhere, right?

— Sara

Sunday, November 8, 2009

22: Maybe I Should Watch More After School Specials and Take Notes on What the Teachers Do

Friday one of my former Year 12 students was expelled from school (I say former because technically the new teacher took over my Year 12 classes; however, I still teach them enough that it is more like sharing).

He was expelled for something that happened two weeks ago during the senior work day I mentioned in this
post. Apparently he and three other Year 12 boys were caught drinking in the plantation when they were supposed to be working. I was shocked when I heard about all this. This is not the sort of kid I expected would get in trouble. The new teacher was just as shocked as I was.

He is still allowed to come back on the days of his School C exams to sit those, but he is not supposed to be allowed to attend our school next year for Year 13. I understand that the school has to take a hard line on these sort of things (except last year when the best rugby player got drunk before a game and we let him come back to school because he was the best rugby player), but it seems a harsh punishment for what I have to imagine is a first offense.

Saturday evening I was peeling potatoes to mash and Cale was at his school lab when this student came by the house. He had his brother's laptop with him. Something was wrong wit the computer and he wanted me to look at it. I sat there wondering to myself, should I talk to him about the expulsion? I am sure that the last thing he wants is another adult to talk to him about being expelled. Besides what would I say anyway? "Hey buddy, that wasn't the smartest idea." I am sure he feels bad enough about it as it is. However, I am the teacher. I think I am supposed to talk to kids about these things.

I didn't have to broach the topic. I asked him how he was doing and he asked if I had heard what happened to him. I asked him why. He said that the other kids had told him it was a good way to relax after finishing finals. It makes be wonder, if the senior students had been given free day or a fun, game day the day after finals instead of a work in the plantation day, would this have happened at all?

Either way, the computer was too broken to fix quickly, so he left it with me and will return for it later.

— Sara

Friday, November 6, 2009

24: So Close, I Can Smell It

Making a Magazine (Yearbook)

Today at 12:30 pm I shook the hand of the Editor-in-Chief
* of the school magazine and said, "Congratulations. You finished a magazine."
*Why are they called Editor-in-Chief anyway?

It was a lie.

Ok, only a little bit of a lie. Everything she needed to do was finished. But I still had things to do.

Yesterday was supposed to be the drop-dead deadline for the magazine. I knew that meant that there would still be a lot of work to accomplish today.

I wandered over to the school at 7 am and was surprised to find my Editor and several other Year 13 students standing outside the computer lab waiting to get in. I had a brief, oh so brief, delusion that they were all there to help get the magazine finished ASAP since we were supposed to take it to the printer that morning. Obviously, that was silly. Most of them were there to play computer games.

I will give my Editor all the credit she is due, she was there to work.

We got down to business. She typed the Head Girl's report (as she also happens to be Head Girl), which the Head Boy (my photo editor) quickly co-opted, claiming it was a joint Head Girl, Head Boy report. Whatever, it was done.

I enlisted random computer game players in the room and handed them pages from the magazine. "Go find me the name of the cricket players in this picture. Go find me the Class Captain of Year 10.1." Things like that.

Things that were due yesterday kept trickling in. At first we thought we would have no information on the athletics (read: track and field). My Sports Editor had told me the day before he had typed it up and saved it to the shared docs, but no information could be found on the shared docs or any of the computers other students claimed he had used the day before. Then, at 11 am the Sports Editor arrived and showed me the athletics report on the one computer nobody had looked at.

Pages were shuffled and space was filled as a possible ad went from possible to, well, not gonna happen.

The last crisis was the Editor's Letter from the Editor. Apparently, she had given it to her English teacher to edit. Her English teacher was at home preparing for the opening of the new volunteer housing for Methodist schools. I sent my Editor to ask after the letter twice with no success. On the last time she told me that the teacher would give it to me this evening.

"This evening isn't going to cut it. We are going to the printer after the cricket practise. You either tell her we need it now, write a new one or we cut it from the magazine." I left her to decided what to do while I printed out a copy of everything else for the pule to look at. I know it was a little hard-ass of me, but there are deadlines in life and you have to meet them. Well, at least there are and you do in life in America. I don't think that holds true here very often.

When I returned she told me she had decided to cut it. This was not the answer I was looking for,  so I talked her into writing a new one.

The final act in "finishing" the magazine was I had her sign a piece of paper and we scanned it in and put it at the end of her letter.

Uma. Congratulations, you have finished a magazine.

Now on to that work I still have to do.

I went looking for the minister who had arranged the deal with the Methodist Printing Press that appears will allow us to print a decent number of copies of the magazine. Sure, I had been asking them for a deal or discount or something for months...but whatever.

I told him we needed to stop at a company in Vaitele who were buying an ad. They said I could uplift the check and ad today. Then we needed to go to the bank to get the money. Then we could go on to the press. It was 1 pm.

He looked at me like I was a crazy person and suggested we needed a rest. We could go to the printer on Monday.

I decided to go to the company anyway as having the ad and money ahead of time would not hurt anything. The student who had spoken with the company about the ad told me they were located in Vaitele across from the Vailima plant. I made sure to specify that it was on the main road and not up the mountain, like my last go find an ad experience. I hopped a bus and got off at Vailima. I looked everywhere. I asked the receptionist at Vailima, she had no idea. I asked at the shop attached to the ANZ building, they had no idea. I stupidly had forgotten to bring the phone with me, so I could not call them. I hopped a bus home and called them. Ah, they are conveniently located behind the ANZ building, not visible from the road and with no road-side signs. I hopped another bus back. I trudged down the gravel drive and found their plant.

When I entered the office, there was a woman having her head massaged with wet leaves. She finished quickly and knew who I was and what I was looking for when I arrived. Things were looking up. She went in search of the manager who would supposedly provide me with the ad and money. She returned. She was so sorry, they were about the quit for the day (it was 3 pm) because they began work at 4 am this morning. The manager was too busy to make an ad now (shouldn't it have already been done and waiting for me if I was told to pick it up? don't hurt yourself asking those questions). She suggested instead that I contact their parent company and ask them for an ad. They are in charge of those things anyway. I got the impression that this company didn't actually have the authority to buy an ad in my school magazine and never intended to give me an ad or money. I took a bus home.

So now I have a half-page hole in the magazine that needs to be filled. Thankfully, there is a boys' cricket game tomorrow. I sent them with the school camera and we don't have any game pictures of boys' cricket in the magazine now. So come Monday I can plug a hole and go to the printers. Hopefully. I won't actually hold my breath on that one.

— Sara

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

26: Totally Prepared to Go Back to School

Cale and I both plan on going back to school when we return to America and if nothing else, Samoa has prepared us for very important aspect of university life. We have totally got toga-party wear under control.

You not may be surprised to learn that it is hot in Samoa. I know, South Pacific Island right off the equator, who knew? What you may be surprised to learn is that not only is it hot in Samoa, but it gets hotter. We are heading into summer in Samoa and the temperature has started to creep even higher than oven. We are now approaching sun. I feel sorry for people who visit in August and think that it is hot. In August it gets down to 70 F at night and I have to break out a blanket.

Yesterday Cale found me laying on the bed after a cold shower.

"it's hot," I said.

"It's Samoa," he said.

"I already took three showers today," I implore.

"Ah, you see, we are heading into five-shower-a-day weather. You are two showers short," he explained.

What does this have to do with toga parties, you ask.

Well, in weather this hot in America I would just wander around the house in shorts and a sports bra (depending on how my body image is doing that day) and think nothing of it. That I cannot comfortably do in Samoa. I would be constantly worried that a neighbor would see me in my scandalous clothes. Instead I just tied an ie around my neck in a dress and, viola, instant heat-wave attire.

I have gotten used to wandering around the house in a piece of cloth. I have gotten used to wandering around in public in a piece of cloth. Whenever we stay at beach fales I wander to and from the shower in a lavalava wrapped around like a strapless dress or wear an ie tied into a dress all day. I feel pretty confident that I could wrap a sheet around myself, call it clothes and head out to a toga party no problem.

So, as you can see. I got this toga-party wear thing totally under control.

— Sara

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

27: Name This Plant: Lobster Claw

Name This Plant

This is my first ever non-food "Name This Plant" post (I think). Unless you are a hummingbird you don't want to be eating the Heliconia Rostrata (also known, oh so appropriately as the Lobster Claw).
Wikipedia doesn't have a lot to say about the entire genus, much less this one in particular.

I can tell you they are pretty and can be found in these parts.

— Sara

PS. I totally know that an answer to a "Name This Plant" post is a cop-out for a post and that this one was even short and crappy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

28: Name This Plant

I've been falling down on my promise to post everyday and I am not necessarily going to get any better at it. Things will be crazy busy for this last month as we attempt to finish everything before we leave.

So to keep you occupied, I would like you to name this plant.

Name This Plant

— Sara