Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Infectious disease...

I feel like I start every post with something disturbing that is happening here in American Samoa, but the tradition is going to have to continue. First of all...

Because there is no shopping on the island everyone gets clothes made. There are countless sewing shops where you can buy really cheap fabric and they will sew it into anything you could dream of. Well I have officially been duped or cheated...I can't decide. I had a long skirt made, and the fabric cost a total of $3.50. It is supposed to be ready tomorrow, but I sneaked a look at my ticket and it says that they are going to try to charge me $47.50 for labor. I just don't think so. I think they are trying to take advantage of me because I am a palagi, and if that is the case they can take the incredibly amazing skirt that I designed and hang it in the window. Actually, I am taking a Samoan girl with me who means business. The average skirt price is around $8.00, and you can get a pulitasi, which is an uncomfortable looking,traditional dress, for $20, and it is composed of a skirt and shirt. In another shop I could have two dresses and a skirt made for the same price. Something just isn't adding up here.

Even more disturbing than being ripped off is getting a horrible note in your box when you get to school. I got to school this morning and had a note in my box telling me that a parent called the school because her child saw another child in my class pull a bug out of her hair and smash it. I had to read the note three or four times wondering what they wanted me to do about it. I thought surely this was not in the job description, but I was quickly corrected. I had to do a lice check when school started. I had to do the check without gloves or those poker things nurses use...I only had my fingers for the search. I thought that I was going to throw up at any moment. I will never again have to wonder what lice looks like. It was rampant and infesting my classroom. One poor girl had lice so bad that you could see it without even moving any hair. As I continued my lice check I had kids telling me that I didn't need to check them because they already know they have it. Well, thanks for telling me before I let my head get anywhere close. I just know that I am going to get it. I have been itching like crazy since the dreaded disease was even mentioned, and if I get lice I am going to be grossed out. I have had other people check me three times today and so far I am clear, but I don't think you can ever be too careful.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I am awake at 3 am...

After a whole month here on the island there are things that I can not get adjusted to. For example, I know that there is going to be some kind of living creature in the shower with me, but I am never prepared for it to scatter when I get in. In fact, I am really never prepared for the bugs. I always jump when I feel something crawl across me when I am in bed, and I hate that when you put down a drink ants are swarming it within 2 minutes. I take a Coke with me to school everyday for lunch, and on Friday I got really distracted as soon as I opened it so when I came back to it it wasn't covered but there were quite a few ants in it. I was ticked because Cokes are like liquid gold here, and so I made a decision. I figured that ants are a delicacy in other countries so I got as many as I could off the top and sides and shook the drink up and drank it. They were tiny ants so I figure it was no big deal, or that is what I am telling myself so that I don't get really mad at the whole ant species. I would have never tolerated it in the states. Actually, I wouldn't tolerate most things that happen here if I was in the States.
Another thing that I am not getting used to is the fact that I actually live on an island in the South Pacific. It's a weird realization, but one that is there every time you flush and the water goes the opposite direction. Or when you look up and there is no Big, Little or any other kind of dipper in the sky. The Southern Hemisphere really got jipped off when the stars were taking shape. It is so weird to be driving down the road and realize that this isn't a vacation, but actually a place of residence. I actually have less than 5 months until I become an actually resident of American Samoa. You might wonder what benefit this has, and I don't know. I do know that the price of going to the doctor will be cut in half when you are a resident. So it will be five dollars instead of ten. I would have a hard time trusting most of the doctors here because of horror stories I have heard, but I hear the dentist is great. He was actually trained in the States, so he has a real license. You can get your teeth cleaned for $10. That is great news. He also does whitening, and I am checking into that. The only downfall to him is that his name is Hansel. He has a twin sister named Gretel. Not a joke. Poor kids. Maybe his parents were big believers in fairy tales.
I have always been a partial "believer" in ghosts. When I say I believed in ghosts it wasn't a very concrete belief. I thought that I might as well believe in them a little because if there were ghosts I didn't want them to try to make a believer out of me. I figured that they would just leave me alone. Not the case here on the rock. I am a full time, hard core believer now. I am in the cross hairs of at least one really annoying one. Just In case you were wondering, yes, I realize how absurd it sounds, but take a walk in my lava lava and you will be changing your tune. I have heard about this alleged ghost since I have been here, but have never felt scared while I am at home. Early last week is when it all started. I was sitting on my couch in my living room and someone knocked on the door. It was an obvious knock, not something in the wind. The door is glass so I got up to look through it and nothing was there. I didn't discount it but it didn't bother me either until it started happening frequently. Also things are constantly being thrown at the door. I will be sitting there and will watch something fly by. I wish I was making this up but it is really happening. Tonight I am really mad at the ghost though because he is in my apartment with me, and he woke me up at 1 am, and now I can't go back to sleep. I laid in bed for at least 10 minutes afraid to open my eyes. I would just rather not see anything other worldly tonight. I have a fan beside my bed, and someone or something keeps turning it off and on, and something keeps getting put in it. This ghost is going to have to quit these shenanigans and quick. We are quickly approaching Halloween, and both All Hallows Eve and Halloween day better be anti climatic. I don't know what it is exactly but I have my suspicion...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rain, Rain...I Love You!

It has been raining really hard today, and I have never loved the rain so much. When it rains it cools off the island. The "cool" days are few and far between. It is becoming summer here and the temperature of the rock is rising. I have been told that it isn't necessarily rising temperatures that make it feel hotter, but instead the lack of tradewinds. By November the wind is supposed to stop completely. I am trying to psych myself into becoming climatized but it isn't really working as well as I had hoped. People are shocked when I run my window unit in my bedroom, because no one else thinks it is hot enough for air conditioning here. All except for my West Texas friends who constantly think they are dying from heat.

I know that I have mentioned that the sun is a quick burner here, but I don't think I realized until tonight how serious that a burn is here. The sunburn I got on Saturday after being in the sun for a few hours hurt worse than any injury I have had to date. I think it hurts worse than breaking a bone. It's a bold statement, but it feels like needles are continuing to prick into my back. Tonight my back started to peel and I peeled 2 layers of skin off and when I looked at my back in the mirror I was surprised to see a fresh sunburn. There is no telling how many layers of skin I burned through. The good thing is that it should give me some tan on my back, and the burns will be less frequent. Speaking of tan...my arms have never been darker in my life. I have Samoan arms basically. In fact I measured my tan to the kids in my class today and I am right there with them. My legs however look like they have been transplanted from an albino person. There is a strong contrast, but I am working on it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I didn't come back with a tan to covet.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I thought that I posted this Sunday morning but apparenlty I didn't. So for all 3 of you who check this I am sorry that I haven't been more punctual. I will try harder. Today was back to the grind. Nothing exciting at school. The most interesting part of my day was going to a Stamp It! party. Who stamps you ask? Apparently everyone who wants to be someone.

My vacation is officially over and after church today it's back to the grind. I have a lot to do before school starts tomorrow. However I am going to be moving really slow because yesterdays beach experience was brutal. Granted it was pretty but there are a few requirements I now have for a beach experience. 1) The hike must be worth the payoff. Yesterdays hike was a killer. It wasn't the toughest hike in the world, but it was extremely rocky for the first half. The rocks become a challenge because they are so slippery because of the changing tide so it is hard to crawl over them. I think there are a lot of dangerous things in this world but I would classify the second part of the hike as ranking up there on the dangerous list. It was a trail that was maybe a foot wide and muddy (so it was slick). There was no leeway room. On one side was the mountainous wall and the other was a 20 foot drop off onto jagged lava rocks. I have had an experience with a lava rock in my day and it isn't pretty when you fall on one. 2) The water must be safe. Palagi Beach (where we went yesterday) could have been the most dangerous beach I have been to date. Palagi beach is known for the amazing snorkeling that is available in the channels there. I will admit that the snorkeling was great. It was my fist time to snorkel in deep water, and I ended up liking the deep water better. I did see some really neat fish. They have the greatest colored fish here. I keep thinking that if I could catch some and send them home I could make a fortune on them, but I have a sneaking suspicion that customs or the US fish and wildlife service wouldn't think it was the best idea. I also got to see wild sea horses. I think that may have been one of the most exciting parts. As great as the snorkeling was it wasn't worth it because the water was so rough and the waves were crashing in. It's easy to underestimate the power of a wave until it knocks you down or carries you out to sea. Being the nervous kid that I am I stayed in the most protected parts of the water at first, but Amy found this cave that was really great at low tide last time and she wanted me to go back with her. Really it was just a photo opportunity. We climbed on the coral and walked around this little island. (I guess you call it an island...it's only about the width of a football field and about half of the length) It was scary walking around it because you have to watch out for deep holes and crabs. When we finally got around to the entrance of the cave the waves started getting really severe. The unadventurous side of me said not to get in the water because we may not be able to get out, but the adventurous side of me said that we've already come this far we may as well go all the way. All I could think about when I jumped in was that my dad would be really mad if I jumped in and died. It was really pretty, and I am glad that we will have pictures of the danger. Once the picture was taken we had to get out quick because the water was rising, but just as I predicted it was a bugger getting out. We swam over to where we jumped in and saw that a wave was coming so we braced ourselves on the rocks. Amy was already back up on the coral but the next thing I knew I got thrown from the rock I was bracing myself against and Amy got thrown off the coral. It was a fleeting moment of sheer panic. I started screaming which doesn't help you swim, and then the panic was gone and we just had to get out. Coral has this nasty way of cutting you if you aren't careful, and we knew we were going to get cut up on the way out because we couldn't be careful. My shins and hands were bleeding, but it is better than being dead. Let me just tell you there is nothing more eye opening than salt water in a wound. It will make you want to holler. After staring death in the face and laughing I had a second of absolute bravery. I talked Amy into going into these coral channels so that we could see some better snorkeling destinations. After we got a little ways into one I realized that this too was a bad idea. I guess I am not the strongest swimmer and I am most certainly not fearless, so I don't handle iffy situations very well. The coral channels were only 2-3 feet wide, so when the waves came in you knew you were going to be battered. I would have to grab the coral and hang on for dear life. At one point everyone started laughing at me because I had my feet propped up on both sides of the channel pushing me back and I was trying to hold on to coral that was behind me. The channels weren't that exciting but when we were coming out of them I was the only one without fins on and I have never swam so hard in my life. I was swimming at full speed and going no where. That wore me out.

We didn't stay that long at the beach because it was hot and rough and not pleasant. On our hike back to the car I may have set a record for slowest hiker ever. I had on my flip flops that were now wet and not cooperating. When we had hiked about ten minutes I was trying to think of a reason that I could tell people so it would make sense that I was hiking so slow and then it happened. I fell climbing off part of the trail, and when I looked out onto the water I saw something fishy. It was actually a school of sharks. They weren't great white or tiger sharks, but they were the largest wild sharks I have ever seen. We aren't sure what kind of shark they were because they had a stripped dorsal fin, but were only 3-4 feet long. Sharks don't like the taste of human flesh so I have been told not to be scared by the reef sharks, however if I would have been swimming and seen one I would have FREAKED out. I don't know how I would have handled it because I wouldn't have been able to get away fast enough. They were only 20 feet away from us, so they have been captured on video. Amy and I also made the decision that if we waded out thigh deep we could say that we swam with the sharks. So I have now swam with sharks, and it was exhilarating.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Snorkeling isn't natural

After I got up I went snorkeling yesterday, and though I stated earlier that I was really great at snorkeling I am now willing to recant my statement. The first time I went snorkeling I was in a protected cove, so it was a breeze. Yesterday, however, I was out in the big bad ocean. I kept having to calm myself down and breathe normally because I kept wanting to hyperventilate. It was low tide so we were able to explore these caves and blow holes. That was scary because we were in the dark. We got out as quickly as we could. Im not sure that snorkeling is a natural activity. Ignorance is bliss and in this case I believe it is true. I will say that once I got used to the fact that a reef shark may swim up to me at any second I was pretty amazed with what was in the water. I saw some of the neatest colored fish and coral that I have ever seen. I have been told that the place where I snorkeled yesterday is unimpressive compared to where we are going this weekend. This weekend we are going to Palagi Beach (white people beach). It is supposed to have the best snorkeling on the island. Im most excited about seeing the starfish. I already know that I should coat myself with the highest sunscreen that I can find, because I apparently can not walk out into the sun without getting a burn. I thought that I was going to come home one tan Texan, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen.

After we got out of the ocean it started raining and proceeded to rain all day long. I did get a lot of errands done, because of the lack of fun things to do. I am now 23 and licensed to drive. That's right I now am legally allowed to drive in American Samoa. I am not totally legal yet because I haven't gone to get my license made, but I have received a clearance from the High Court saying that I can get my license. It's kind of exciting. I could run a muck on the island now. When we were heading into Pago yesterday we picked up Vanessa who is a Samoan that works for Marshall Ashley's law firm. When you need to get something done she is the go to girl. She went with me down to the post office to see if anything that I am expecting has arrived...which it hasn't. Instead of waiting in line she just walks back to the mail area in the back and starts asking questions. Apparently the guys in customs are friends of hers. I don't know what about me says "yeah, I love softball", but the first thing that I was asked was to join the Customs softball team. I acted excited about it but really it was just to be nice, but I am supposed to see Vinny to get fitted for my uniform today. When I realized that he thought that I would really play I tried to tell him that Im really nice, but not an athlete. He said it doesn't matter because they are a happy team. Win or lose they still have a good time (they haven't won yet). I don't run, and my hand eye coordination isn't all that good, so Im not really understanding why I would be an asset for the team. Never the less, I am on the team. I am skipping my first game on Saturday, but from there on out I am in it to win it. I guess I should get a glove...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I may never sleep again

There are some things that I think that the average person should not dawdle in. I believe ghosts top that list; however, they seem to be talked about frequently in American Samoa. People believe in the presence of ghosts here because of their love affairs with the dead. You get more respect and friends when you die than you do in your actual life. There is no such thing as cemeteries here. Instead people bury their dead in their front yards, but the graves are not marked with simple gravestones. They are shrines built for them, and it isn't surprising if the dead have better accommodations than the living. Anyway, there are supposed to be two ghosts living with me, or I should say on the property that I live on. One was living on the premises when the Ashley's moved in. His grave was here, but when the family moved they took the grave with them. The ghost is a Samoan male veteran from WWII. I haven't seen him but one of the girls has. They said that they (a group of 5 or more) saw him walking around the porch of the house during the last hurricane. There is also supposed to be a second female ghost. I don't know much about her yet, because I can only handle this kind of information in small chunks. There is supposed to be a haunted girls school here which some of the people have been too. I saw a picture of one of the halls and I am not kidding you can see a face. It is so real that it makes me want to either cry or throw up, I just haven't decided which yet. I can't know this kind of information and live by myself. I could possibly never sleep again.

Im a killer

There are 3 disturbing events that are currently taking place in my home. One is that I have a rat. I haven't seen him, but I know he is there. I have been super clean too, so it is really weird. I was sitting at my kitchen table/desk and I could hear something behind me. I looked and looked but to no avail. I couldn't find the sucker. Then I realized that he is running havoc in the wall. In the wall or in the house makes no difference to me. It is all too close for comfort. The second creepy thing is that I was coming in my front door this morning and smelled a "dead smell" in the threshold. I didn't think much about it because the island on a whole stinks, that is until I looked up. I killed a gecko. I didn't do it on purpose, but I did it none the less. He got smashed in the door, but the nasty thing is that his arms, head, and tail are stuck to the top of the door, but the inside of his body is all over the inside of the door frame. This leaves me at a crossroads. What do I do? Do I scrape it off? or do I leave it and hope that it just disappears? I just don't know. The third thing is cockroaches. I have heard about these giant cockroaches but had yet to see one in my house until this morning. I was washing my hair when I looked up and noticed the biggest cockroach I have ever seen. This cockroach had to be 3 or more inches long. I didn't even have the urge to scream probably because I was frozen in terror. I went to the store and bought bulk cockroach killer today. When you buy any kind of insect killer at the store you can only get it in one variety...large insect.

Today was an exciting day because I had a car. On this day of freedom I was able to get all my errands done plus some. I even went to one of the many sewing shops on the island and had them make me a skirt. I don't know how much it will cost or when it will be done, but I have faith in my new friend, the seamstress. Apparently you can take a picture of anything that you want into the shop and they can whip it out for you. I went to one of the nicer places today, but tomorrow I am going to go to another place to see how they do. My mind is racing with all the things that I could have them make, but it comes to a complete halt when I realize I have no money. Oh to live the life of a teacher is to live the life of poverty.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I am a hiking machine...

Yesterday was a great day, but it really didn't surprise me because I planed it. Early yesterday morning we drove to the east end of the island. The east end of the island is beautiful and the air is clean. When we got to the end we caught a ferry to the island Annu'u. There are about 300 people that live on Annu'u, and it is the smallest of the inhabited American Samoa islands. On the was there we met a friend who was from the island who proved to be invaluable. This lady and her sister were headed to Annu'u to visit their uncle. She told us to explore the island and she would be waiting for us when we got done. We hiked from one end of the island to the other and back around. It was the most draining hike I have ever been on, but then again how many hikes do I really go on. We were the only Palagis on the island so people would stare at us, but they were also very friendly. We hiked to some amazing cliffs where we met a man who was fishing for lobster with bamboo. He was really nice, but advised us to not come back without a guide. He said that we were lucky that it was low tide when we came but if we would have come any later it would have been extremely dangerous. Apparently some absurd amount of palagis have been dying there in the last 2 weeks. They don't realize that the waves will take you right off the rocks and slam you back into them. After we left the cliffs we headed to quicksand. The quicksand is covered by trees so it's not as dangerous as it could be. I am not really sure what it looks like. I know it has a red tent. It was a great hike. We saw some really neat things, but I have never sweat so much in my whole life. It was like we were under a blanket of heat. I also got one of the worst sunburns that I have ever had on this little hike. My arms were purple by last night, but this morning they are fine. The sun is really fickle here, and it is not a friend. It will burn you to a crisp in a heartbeat. When we had hiked our feet off we went back to the village to meet up with our new friend, and head back to Tutuila (the island that I live on). Our new friend told us to follow her to the village that she grew up in. The trip over was great except that it was a 80 degree vertical incline. I don't know how cars handle it on a regular basis, but it was worth it. It was amazing. The village we went into was the only village in the National Park, and it was exceptional. The National Park was something to be reckoned with. It was really clean (which is a nice change on the island), and the people were so friendly. They took us on a hike to the end of the island to the place of some legend. I really didn't understand the legend, but I was concentrating on not falling on our little hike. Today I am going to go into town to get some crucial things done. My skin needs to rest, but tomorrow is back to the water.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I've changed my name to Ms. Adventure

If my weekend was any indication of how my week is going to be then it may as well be the best week of my life. Friday was a little rough in the beginning (well until like 5), but then the fun began. Some friends of mine came to pick me up to go for a drive to no where in particular. We ended up driving up the mountain to get some relief from the heat, and we wanted to take some pictures. We thought that it would be a good idea to take pictures behind one of the Bush stores (convenient stores) here, so we stopped and got out of the car. There was a lady sitting outside the store who came up and started talking to us. She couldn't figure out why in the world we would ever come to American Samoa. She was really funny. We don't have any idea what her name is but I do know that at one point she went to New Zealand to become a nun and she dropped out because she thought the life nun's lead was boring. She worked with this man who gave us all kinds of stuff and loved us because we were American. He was from Korea and speaks little to no English, but we did understand that if we would teach his children English after school then he would cook us Korean food for dinner. Too bad I don't eat anything from across the Atlantic Ocean, or it could be a good setup.

Saturday we went to Larson's Bay which was one of the most amazing beaches I have ever been to because it was so secluded. You drive down all of these dirt roads and park at this dead end so that you can hike down to the beach. I didn't come prepared for this hike because I had on my flip flops, a skirt, and sunglasses. It was only about half a mile down to the bay but it was strait down. Because I am an incredibly nimble and coordinated person I was able to just run down it. It’s weird because you will be hiking along a trail and then the trail disappears and then you are in a taro plantation. It reminded me of the movie The Beach. We were the only people at the beach so we had a lot of fun. I was able to snorkel for the first time, and I loved it. It was a little nerve racking because it opened up a whole new world, but over all it was fascinating. When we were ready to leave I anticipated a killer hike, but I had no idea. Coming down was a breeze to going back up. I’m not the most athletic girl and I was in flip flops so I thought that my legs were falling off. I was trying so hard to keep my feet in my shoes while we were scaling the rocks that I thought my calf muscle was tearing off of my shins. It was totally worth it though.

Today at church was White Sunday. I am not really sure exactly what White Sunday is, but I know that it is for the children. It's something like Easter, but not Easter, so I don't know. In fact, I don't understand a lot of things they do here. It was a neat day though. The children all wear white to church and they perform songs, memory verses, and skits. They all did a good job, but after an hour and a half I was ready to call it quits.

I’m really excited about tomorrow for 2 reasons. 1) We don't have school. Thank you Christopher Columbus. And 2) because I actually made the plans. Being the NKOTI (New Kid on the Island) I usually have no idea what to do, but this time I pulled through in a big way. We are going to Annu'u which is an island a mile off of Tutuila (where I live). Its part of the national park and it has some great hiking, so I am pumped. We are taking the ferry out in the morning, so that we can get in a full day of swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. This place has quicksand, but not in a place where you will fall in (because I would for sure). I am becoming a regular adventurist.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spring Break here I come...

Today marks two full weeks that I have been living in American Samoa. Sometimes I think it is flying by and other times I am longing to be home for Christmas. Tomorrow is a half day at school, and the next week is Spring Break. I can't wait.

Today was a field trip for the kids in K-2 to wrap up our unit on transportation. We took the kids down to the harbor and we were given a tour of a cargo boat that travels inter island. It takes people and other kinds of cargo, and she was a beauty. I tried to become best friends with both of the captains, and one wasn't falling for it. I kept trying to talk to them to find out more about taking the ferry to other islands but every time I would stop to ask a question one of my kids would try to jump off the deck. It was a never ending cycle - ask a question and then avert danger. One of the crew guys actually thought I was from the Pacific. I know it wasn't because I have a good tan, but I am choosing to believe that is the feature that makes me look the most "Samoan". He quickly recounted his statement when I opened my mouth. I have never thought that I had a give away Texas accent, but apparently I do. It's a little disappointing because I thought the horrible accent was the only Texas stereotype that I didn't embody, but that's shattered. After the harbor we took the students to the airport to watch planes take off and land. The only thing was that nothing took off and nothing landed, so they were a little bummed out until the pilot came out and took us on a special tour of an inter island plane. After they got out of the plane we asked what their favorite part of the airplane was and the general consensus was that the back of the seats had tables in them. Kids always notice the most obscure details. Everyone is fascinated with Texas and California. They could care less about the other 48 states. My kids wonder where I tie my horse, so I showed them Lubbock on Google Earth and they were amazed.

Google Earth is probably the best program I have ever experienced. I can't tell you how many trips I have taken around the world from the comfort of my house. I am addicted and I have hooked all the other teachers. It really is the cool thing to do.

Possibly the most interesting part of my day was that I got the surgical staple in my ear removed. Quick and painless it was not, but that is the price you pay when someone takes it out with pliers. I was eating at the principals house (which happens to be upstairs) tonight and wanted to take it out so she said she would do it. She did a fine job. There was relatively no bleeding. The best part about it is it makes me seem really tough. I could possible handle anything.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Am I living in a wildlife refuge?

I don't know if I have the call of the wild or what but animals are flocking to my door. On Sunday night I had a crab run in front of my feet, and tonight I saw a grouping of abnormally large toads sitting on my porch. I'm not really sure what you call toads traveling together...they aren't a flock, or a herd, so what are they? I have seen some big frog/toads in my life, but these are by far the biggest. In fact, they look a little mutated because of they are easily bigger than a softball. I feel like they are all wanting to get into the house because they think it's going to be a playground of filth, but it is certainly not. In fact, I have never been so clean in my entire life. I deep clean my entire apartment every other day. Granted there isn't that much to clean. Learning to be meticulously clean could be a life lesson that ranks up there with not having to have everything. The threat of the rabbit like rats and millions of ants makes me almost happy to clean. This knowledge 5 years ago could have changed my roommates lives. I do like the animals, but I am constantly trying to act like they all don't scare me, but that is a lie. I walk around tensed up expecting something to either jump out or fall on me. Either way I am ready to scream and duck.

Tonight was night two of my new career as a Polynesian dancer. It doesn't look like it is going to work out as well as I thought. Unfortunately, my body does not move as quickly as they would like and I have a small problem with coordination. If I can break through those 2 roadblocks I am home free. The best part of dance tonight was the fact that I was able to dress in my "lavalava". Lavalavas are the traditional sarong like skirts that everyone wears here. I went to the store and purchased my self a few so that I could look the; part. I think that is the most exciting part. I love the lavalavas if I could only figure out how to tie them correctly. Don't be surprised if you see me trying to sport them in the States. I wonder LISD's policy on sarongs?

Today happened to be the hottest day I have experienced here. I was told that today was as hot as it should get throughout the rest of the year, and I am hoping that is true because I actually thought that I was going to die. I have never been a very athletic girl, which is obvious, but I have run once or twice in my life. The sweat produced in those times was nothing compared to how bad I was sweating today. It was almost like I was melting because water was dripping from my body. The kids didn't think that it was too hot but I had every fan in our classroom pointed directly at me, and it didn't even help that much. It rained this afternoon and I was hoping that it would cool off but it didn't. Instead when the sun came back out it was hotter. I wanted the rain to keep going so the minute school was out I could go stand in it, but no such luck. It did however rain a ton today. Someone told me that it has rained over 25 inches in the two weeks that I have been here. I think that is more rain than we get in Lubbock in a year.

Luckily the washing machine was fixed today. The bad thing however is that the washer and dryer are in this shed thing under the stairs. Well when the washer was ready to do the spin cycle it sounded like we were in a tornado. It scared me to death. The dogs started barking and the cats took off. I don't know if it is normal though. I know I don't have too much in it, so that may just be how it sounds. Looks like I will have to get my laundry done early in the day, because not doing it is not an option.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I could have been a pioneer.

When you move across the world you don't have the opportunity to bring large quantities of things with you. So you come with the knowledge and hope that you can rewear without going to the laundry mat. The problem ensues when a) you sweat so bad that rewearing is not even a possibility and b) you don't have a car to get to the laundry mat. My next door neighbors bought a washer and dryer on Saturday and graciously said that I could use it anytime I wanted. I had hoped to use it today, but it is leaking so I can't do anything until it is fixed. Naturally, I was in a lerch for something to wear so I did what every resourceful girl would do...pick out an outfit and wash it in the sink. I never dreamed that I would have to resort to this. I filled the sink up and washed my clothes with laundry detergent. I even put fabric softener in it. The outfit is now hanging in my window and I am praying for a breeze to dry my clothes. Even if my clothes aren't "clean" they still smell good, and that makes it worth it. I am really hoping that the washer will be fixed tomorrow so that I don't have to hand wash ever again.

I've noticed that alot of things that I thought that I "had to have" in the States are fairly easy to live without. Modern convieniences aren't here and we are learning to get along without them. If I gain nothing else from this experience, Im glad that I am realizing that I don't have to have everything.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Golden Arches called my name...

I can't believe the weekend is over. It went by so fast, but I loved every second of it. I have made friends with a few of the teachers at the school (really there only are a few teachers total) and every Friday we are going to start going to the KoKo Bean. The KoKo Bean is a relatively trendy place for American Samoa where you can get coke, ice cream, and the most amazing chocolate muffins. It's in the 1 shopping center in Tafuna which is the village where if live. Its a bit of a stretch to say "shopping center" because there are only 4 stores. We shopped around in the stores on Friday because it was dismal and rainy outside, and noticed a very interesting trend. There is a really good athletic store at the back of the shopping center and I went in to try to find some shoes for the beach, but they don't carry my size shoe...EVER. Really they don't carry women's shoes period in that store, but I was willing to get a shoe from the men's dept if the price was right. I wear an 8.5 or a 9 in women's shoes so I thought that I might need a 7.5 or 8 in men's, but they don't ever carry shoes below a size 13. They were the biggest shoes I have ever seen. This brought up a great question...Why do Samoan people have such large feet. Each teacher has their own opinion. I think it is adaptation to slippery rocks. I think they use their feet as a defense against clumsiness, but another teacher believes that because most people always go barefoot or walk around in flip flops their feet have never felt confined, thus, never quit growing. I think it seems a little far fetched but I'm going to do some checking into it.

Saturday was my first real day on the island. I thought it was going to continue to rain but instead it was beautiful. The sun never totally broke out, but it was cool and not raining. We wanted to go to the beach, but it was too cold so instead we went over to Amy and Lukes. Amy is the 3rd/4th grade teacher at Pacific Horizons and her husband Luke is a lawyer with Mr. Ashley. They live a couple of villages over and right on the water so we went to enjoy the view, play games, and eat. They are huge Tech fans, so we all sat around the computer having a "I wish we were in Lubbock tailgating party". The island is a volcanic island so there isn't a beach going into the water in most places. Instead they have large jagged lava rocks. The coolest thing about the rocks is the crabs. When you walk out on the rock they run and hide. It's really neat. Everyone just walked out on the rocks like it was nothing, but being sensible I almost crawled. People just don't understand the damage a lava rock can do, and I fall every chance I get so I am playing it safe.

Today was a rough day. I didn't feel good this morning so I slept in instead of going to church. When I woke up I really wanted to go somewhere but I don't have any transportation so I got a little cranky. I would go as far to say that I was about to either pack and come home, or throw a temper tantum. Which luckily I didn't do either, because my next door neighbors let me take their mini van out on the town. I was cruising along in their automobile, and loving every second of it. I never pictured myself as a mini van person, but I cruised around with the windows down and the wind in my hair. I went to the grocery store and then I picked up a little piece of home. McDonald's. In all honesty I don't LOVE McDonald's, but I think that my coke from the fountain was the best thing I have ever tasted. I smiled the whole way back to the house. It's sad that as Americans we equate home with McDonald's, but I think that Ronald saved my spirit today.