Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Apparently I am a performer.

I have been asked to join a dance troupe. Possibly the funniest thing about this situation is the fact that I can't dance. Not even remotely. I was asked by a Samoan woman that I know, and I might go as far to say I was deceived. One of the aides at the school goes to a church that is doing a big Christmas spectacular this Sunday night. Each family puts on a skit, sings or dances. She said there are only 18 people, so I thought about it and decided that I could do anything in front of 18 people. What I didn't understand that when she said "18 people" she meant the term loosely. She meant that there would be 18 Samoan families. A Samoan family is like an American family only with a average of 12 people per family. So basically I am going to an adult dance recital in front of a large crowd. Her family chose to dance this year and they asked me and Amy to join them. She said that we are going to do Hawaiian dance movements and that she would put her three small children in front of us so we don't stick out so bad. The kids come up to my knees, how can I not be seen behind them? Plus, we are going to be the only two white people in the place. We are wearing our lava lava's so that we look a little more Samoan, but I was told that people will know I am white by looking at me.

They came over tonight to teach us the first half of the "dance". The funniest part is that we are Hawaiian dancing to Dolly Parton. I'm not sure that I have ever seen anyone hula to Dolly, so this should be an interesting experience. I learned the dance rather quickly due to my amazing dance aptitude, but they were only able to show me pieces tonight. I was trying to do the foot work but was encouraged to try to keep my body as still as possible and just move my hands. I guess I look spastic when I move my feet which just shocks me. How do I get mixed up in these type of situations?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

This is serious...

Well, I have started a new lifestyle. I am getting in shape. This is not a cosmetic decision, but instead a decision out of necessity. First, I don't want to turn into an 8xer. Second, I have to make sure that my jeans are loose. There is a multitude of reasons that I need my jeans loose. One is that it is so hot if feels like you are wearing Saran wrap if anything is touching your body. Another is that I need them loose so that I can eat real food (Mamaritas and Rosas) when I am home, and still fit into them when I get back. I have made idol attempts to "get in shape" in the past, but this time I actually mean business. I have 20 days, and 20 days is going to fly by. I plan to get in shape in two ways...swimming and walking. I have told a friend that I would get up with him at 5:15 AM to walk. I haven't purposely got up that early in year, so I am currently praying for a monsoon. I also am swimming 30 laps a day. It doesn't seem like much, but it's pretty sufficient in a hot pool. The beauty of swimming is that not only am I working to my "get in shape" goal but I am also getting tan while Im at it. My dermatologist is going to freak out in December, but right now I am living it up.

There are several things that I am dying to do when I get back to the States. One is eat Mexican food. I think that is my big one. I have to give it to the Samoans they are huge people and they aren't even eating the good stuff. There is no Mexican food on the island, and I am a Mexican food junkie. Another thing I can't wait to do is get in a car that is going over 20 miles per hour. The speed limit on island is anywhere from 10-25 miles per hour which seems normal to me now. I was in the car the other day and the person that was driving was driving at a break neck speed. I was a nervous wreck, made sure I was seatbelted in, and I was holding onto the door handle. When I peeled my eyes open to look at the speed I almost laughed...A whole 30 miles per hour and I thought I was going to die. I have become a turtle.

Friday, November 25, 2005

8x? I didn't even know people could be that big.

Well...unfortunately on this lovely island there are some people who are way off base about the Lone Star State. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, people have been coming up to me and asking where I am from because I have such a strong accent. I, on the other hand, don't think I have an accent, but when I tell them that I am from Texas no one seems that shocked. The other day, I did have a man say (in a hateful tone) that he HATED Texas and most of the people from there. He went on and on about how pompous Texans were, and how the state wasn't that cool. He then proceeded to laugh...like it was a laughing matter. He obviously didn't know that when he insulted Texas, he insulted me. I didn't laugh and I didn't smile, but I did tell him that he was misinformed, and that our conversation could cease right then unless he had a quick attitude adjustment. He looked at me like I had three heads. He actually apologized and for some reason I told him not to make the same mistake again. Who am I?

I have a car this week because my roommates are in New Zealand and I am loving the freedom. Really there aren't too many places that you can go on this 20 mile island, but it's nice to be able to get there if I need to. The only problem with the rig I am driving is that everything that could go wrong this week has. I got a flat tire, which I could not change. Even though I have the tire changing knowledge I couldn't do it because the lug nuts were on too tight. In fact, I couldn't find anyone that is able to get them off, so I go and fill it up with air every once and a while. It's a very safe approach. I also got pulled over last night by two of the five police officers on island. They were less than friendly and one stood at each window trying to intimidate me. I wasn't scared. Apparently I hadn't turned on my lights and they got all over me for it. Plus...I don't have a license here. I have court clearance to get one, but I haven't done it yet. Because it was Thanksgiving they decided to let me go with a warning this time, but told me they wouldn't be so nice next time. Oh please. I am going to get my license for here today.

I went to the greatest "beach" the other day except there was no beach. It was all rock, in fact it is called Sliding Rock. It was great! It was isolated, little to no hike, and I could lay out and get a good tan. There were even personal tide pools for us to swim in. I’ve got to start working on my tan because I come home in 24 days, and wouldn't want anyone to be disappointed.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It was my first Thanksgiving without my family. I wasn’t too happy about that, but it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving here. Possibly because of the unbearable heat. We went to the Ashley’s last night for our Thanksgiving feast, and it was okay, but there was no one to make me my specialty dishes. No one here cares that I don’t like turkey, ham, stuffing, veggies, or any of that other stuff that you associate with Thanksgiving. It was really nice of them to invite us over though. I have decided the hardest thing about not being at home for Thanksgiving is no day after Thanksgiving day shopping. This may be my first shopping free day after.

I guess that it is now time to start Christmas decorating. I don’t have any decorations here and sadly I don’t think I am going to decorate. I would rather save my meager teacher salary for other things. Plus it is strange to go to the store and have one half of the isle filled with swimming stuff and the other half filled with Christmas stuff. There is something that just doesn’t work there. One of the biggest pet peeves I have had in the last month is that people here don’t understand Christmas decorating. I woke up on November 1st and it was a Christmas spectacular. Decorations everywhere. Do they not realize that you don’t decorate until after Thanksgiving? I guess not. I tried to tell everyone that I knew that it wasn’t appropriate, but they did it anyway.

I have started shopping on island. I try to go in all the stores because you never know what you will find. I went to one store and went crazy because they had great t-shirts. You all know that I love a good t-shirt. As I was looking for t-shirts that I would like I found a section of t-shirts that were sized 2x-8x. 8x? I didn't even know such a creature existed. I bought it so that I could show people because I have never seen anything like it. It is like a set of sheets. It hangs to my shins and the neck hangs off my shoulders. I have seen some big people on island. Really big people in fact, but I don't think I have seen anyone bigger than a 5 or 6x. Who wears an 8x is what I want to know. We figured that the people that they are made for die of a heart attack before they can come get a new t-shirt. Oh American Samoa, how interesting you are.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I love football.

Sometimes it hits you how bizarre it is to live where you live. I am currently suffering from this. I had to call someone today that was in the States and when they asked me where I was living it was weird to say "in the South Pacific" like its normal. It's also very surreal because I am not in Texas anymore. There are mountains, greenery, and crazy animals here. But I have decided that my favorite thing about this island is that in the evenings you can hear singing from my balcony. You really don't even need to go outside to hear it, because the singing is so loud and great. It is also coming from all over Tafuna. I guess that it is church groups practicing for the next service, but it is something that I haven't heard before.
This was a week of firsts for me. I rode the bus for the first time. It was a great!! I wouldn’t go alone, so I made my friend Timothy ride with me. I’ve never really ridden on public transportation before so it was a little scary. Then I realized that this “public transportation” was really a truck with a top built on to it. They also paint the busses fancy colors and add things that look like graffiti to an outsider like me. I was lucky enough to ride on the “Soul Train 2” for .50 whole cents and a lifetime of memories. Another first was that I tried Thai food and really liked it. I tell you what. I am really expanding my tastebuds mostly because all my friends here think I am such a baby for not eating any of the food groups. Some call it picky, but I don't think so.

Last weekend, we went to the championship football game on island. It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. The high schools on island get into school spirit like nothing I have ever seen. Every student makes signs to hang from their cars, houses, and bodies. Businesses join right in the action. The Tafuna Warriors played the Leone Lions, and you would have thought that it was the Orange Bowl by the buzz on island. Not only are the Samoan people behind their teams, but they are also creative. I would start laughing as I would drive through town because the signs were unlike any football signs I have seen. For example, “Win, Lose, or Tie…Warriors till we die.”, Tie? Are you kidding? Another one said, “Oops, Did I just break your jaw?” and my favorite was a gigantic sign that said “We fear no man…(and then in small letters underneath) but God.” At the game on Saturday we decided to sit in the end zone because we didn’t want to chose sides. The Samoans are very competitive people so they get very feisty at games. In fact, they have horrible fights at the game and I really was in no mood to rearrange any of my facial features. I went to see some of the alleged fights, but I couldn’t tough out the heat. I felt like it was 120 at least maybe more. The game was supposed to be at 11, so naturally I got there at 1 and it hadn’t started yet. Here there is a pre game show that is apparently the longest pre game show ever. The pre game show is a fun dancing show, but really there is no need for 2 hours of it. There were many great things about the game the first being that both teams meet in the middle of the field and do taunting and threatening dances for one another. The other great thing about the game was that the crowd of at least 5,000 would start signing organized songs. The Lions fans busted out with “In the Jungle” at one point and I could not hide the shock on my face. It was like I was in the set of a movie. I loved the game, but I didn’t love the heat or the sunburn so I was out after the first quarter.

I know that I have gotten so lazy with this blog, but I haven’t been doing anything too exciting. I will try to update more often!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The life of a servant...

I am finally a resident of the village of Tafuna. I have officially moved into my new apartment. We don't have the internet inside so I am currently sitting outside stealing from one of my new neighbors. I am thinking of it as a house warming gift. We should be getting the internet within the next few days. Until then I am going to be forced to borrow from the allusive "Mr. Jin". Being right in the thick of things will make my life so much easier and yet so much more exciting. I can't wait.

Friday I did something that I never thought that I would do. I ate Chinese food...and I didn't hate it. I can not bring myself to say that I did like the spicy chicken that I tried. As a general rule I don't eat food that isn't from North America. I just don't trust it, and I'm picky. The problem with being in American Samoa is that it isn't in North America. This makes being so picky a little harder to do.

On Saturday morning, I awoke to painful shrieking sounds. I thought that the Ashley's next door neighbors were killing their dogs. I wasn't sure what for but I was almost sure that they were going to eat them. I quickly got dressed and ran outside to rescue some poor dog from the hands of evil, but there were no "evil hands" anywhere to be found. Instead the Ashley's had found a puppy that wasn't happy to be in a dog run. The puppy was a stray with a beagle resemblance and I loved it. So naturally I went to pick it up and play with it. The Ashley's youngest daughter said that it was fine. No big deal. Looking back, I think she wanted to get out of having to take care of it for a few minutes. The sweet pup was great. The minute I picked her up she laid her head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I took her inside to sleep while I watched the beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders on AFN. To make a long story short, I took care of the puppy all morning and afternoon and held it, played with it, and loved it. Later someone reminded me to wash my arms because the dog has flees and mange. WHAT? I wouldn't have touched it if I knew that it was going to potentially spread all kinds of live and biting vermin. Well today I itch like crazy. So I am wondering, do I have fleas? Can humans get fleas? and what does a human do if he/she has fleas? Do they have human flea baths? Because it all seems disgusting. All I know is that if I do have fleas...I better get another jewel in my crown.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I've decided I now have a debilitating disease. When I got to this island it was a few weeks after the filariasis craze. Filariasis is a really big deal here so the government provides free medication and prevention to keep you safe. It is passed from mosquitoes, and places the larvae of parasites in your blood stream. I hear the commercials but everyone acts like I really don't need to take the pills because they will make you sick for a few days. Well I have decided that being sick for a few days sure beats elephantitis. I have been doing my research and have decided that I have some of the symptoms. Of course, the symptoms that I have (headache, fatigue, swollen feet) could also be from living in the most hellacious climate I've ever lived in, or from teaching five to seven year olds all day long. I am going to try to go ahead and get the pills tomorrow so that I can make sure that I don't have any pesky parasites in my bloodstream. Thank you mosquitoes.

Not a lot happened today besides school and Survivor. I did finally get my webcam up and working so I was able to chat with my aunt. I don't know who started the web cam calling phase, but I am very thankful that they did. Web cams are the wave of the future. (so if you don't have one...you need to get on board) The great thing is that you can see each other and hear each other while talking for free. Free is the icing on the cake. I get really excited about getting things for free that are so cool that I would even be willing to pay for it. That's when you know its a deal.

I received a compliment today that no one else realized was a compliment. I met a lady from New Zealand recently, and I thought that she was nice but didn't really think anything of meeting her. I found out today from another New Zealander that she told her that she had never met a Texan, but if she had to dream one up I would be it. Isn't that great? I have been living my life "do or die Texas" for good reason. I knew that I loved that state. I asked the lady who told me about it what made her think "oh, that must be a girl from Texas" and I was surprised by her response. Her initial thought was that I had an accent. I have been in the dark for at least 23 years, because I have always thought that I was accent free. Turns out...I'm not. But now that she said I have one my new philosophy on accents is "go big or go home". I have been trying to refrain myself from talking as country as I can. The other thing that tipped her off was (suprisingly enough) my teeth. She said that they were both white and in line. Correct me if I am wrong, but I've seen quite a few Texans with messed up "grills" and wouldn't hinge the mark of a Texan on teeth, plus to tell you the truth I don't have the greatest teeth ever. I would go so far to say that they are okay. They have served their purpose for the last 23 years of my life, but they aren't so great that I wouldn't be willing to get venners. I have always thought of both whiteness and relatively straitness as signs of good hygiene. I would have gone with more obvious sings of Texas heritage than teeth or accent if I were her. The fact that I wear one of my many t-shirts with the state of Texas on it once or twice a week should have been her first clue, but I guess to each their own...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Gone but not forgotten...

I realize that it has been quite a while since I have posted, and surprisingly enough I have not heard the end of it. So in an effort to keep all of my adoring public to keep being adoring I have submitted to the requests.

Oh what a week it has been. Tomorrow marks my 6th week on the island which amazes me. It really is going quickly, but I wouldn't be opposed to it going a little quicker. I am anxiously awaiting the Christmas holiday, which begins for me in a mere 46 days. When I am awake in the middle of the night I think of all of the places that I am going to be able to go, the things that I will be able to wear, and where I am going to eat. I haven't been in a "good" restaurants since I have been here. There are places that are okay, but no where FANTASTIC. You would think that would encourage me to be a waif... which makes me want to laugh.

I am learning more about the island every day. For example, I have thought for 5 weeks that I live in Pago Pago, but I was informed recently that infact I live 30 minutes from Pago. Who knew? I apparently live in Ili Ili right now, but I am moving to Tafuna tomorrow. You move from village to village as you travel around the island. No one understands the concept of cities or even streets around here. There are no street names, stop signs, house numbers or anything that remotely resemble real life. It is obvious that the fantastic grid planners of Lubbock never made it to the South Pacific. The odd thing with the villages is that no one gets mail in their village. Everyone's mailing address is in Pago, but it is really just the harbor.

We celebrated for at least four days for Halloween this year. It is the most aloneness I have done in my life so far, and it is the most I will ever do again. I wore myself out, and from fear none the less. The Halloween movies started on Saturday when we thought that it would be a good idea to watch scary movies. I say "we" very loosely because I have never thought a scary movie to be a good idea. We watched the Amnityville Horror which is supposed to be based on a true story. It scared me to death even though I was watching the movie with my ears plugged and my eyes covered so that I could only peek through. When I knew that it would be really scary I would lightly press on my eyes so that the images would be distorted thus making the movie less scary. After we watched the movie I came back to my apartment and stayed up all night because I couldn't sleep. I kept seeing disturbing images in my minds eye. The next day I signed up for another scary movie without thinking twice. I actually skipped out on work that I should have been doing to sit and watch White Noise. White Noise is all about EVP or talking to the dead on tape players. Extremely creepy is all I can say. The movie wasn't all that scary, but the thought of communicating with the dead makes me want to throw up. It makes me really nervous, but I went ahead and joined in to try to talk to a "ghost" in some friends apartment. We followed all of the EVP rules, but didn't get anything back. Everyone else is bound and determined to try again to try to pick something up, but I am out. I have decided that you do not mess with the dead. That is risky business that I do not want to be a part of.

Halloween was possibly the scariest day I have ever experienced. We had been planning on going to this haunted all girls school here on the island in the afternoon to get some pictures and scare ourselves a little. Well one thing led to another and we didn't get out of the house until after 8...here that is the middle of the night black. I knew it wasn't a good idea, and tried to tell everyone. I thought we should play a game or do something silly, but I was quickly overruled because I was being a wash. On the way to the school I hugged my bible the whole time trying to figure out how to metaphorically put on the "armor of God" because people have been known to be possessed from this place. We got out of the car and hiked strait up the side of a hill to this old deserted school and my heart was about to jump out of my chest. I couldn't get a good breath because I was so scared, but no one seemed to have much pithy on me. Before we got into the school a villager drove up and hollered for us to get out of there, and I was ready to go. You do not have to tell me twice. Everyone else wanted to go ahead and go inside, but the man started yelling and left. What I didn't know at the time was the man was telling us to get out or he would go get the men of the village. Unfortunately I do not speak Samoan, so I just act like I don't hear any sounds at all. That was a mistake because on our way down he came back with the village men who happened to be angry and carrying rocks. I have learned in the past that I am very selfish when it comes to scary situations. I will leave just about anyone in the dust to save myself. When I was walking to the car I was talking extremely loud saying things that I thought would make the villagers spare me and get everyone else. I tried to act like I had been kidnapped and dragged there but decided that it wasn't the best ploy. We got away without incident luckily.

last night was my first "compass Rose" meeting which is a fancy way to say PTA. The only differences are that a) it's short, and b)I had to put it on myself. I worked my tail off to get ready and only 2 parents showed up. They are both parents that talk to on a regular occasion, so I was a little bummed out. I wouldn't have waisted a clean outfit if I would have only known.

I am going to try to keep you better updated. I am moving tomorrow into a new apt. with my friends Amy and Luke. It should be fun. We are representing the misplaced Texans in this world.