Monday Monday, it was all, I hoped it would be....! Thanks Mama's and Papa's for providing a theme for Monday's adventure. After a relaxing weekend we were back in action with the training Monday morning. However, it was not to be an ordinary training day. We traded our hot conference room for a day of safety and security lessons at the beautiful Aggie Grey Resort just outside of Apia. Our lesson included about 25 minutes of safety briefing, then we loaded up a catamaran and were off for some hands on learning (aka snorkeling on the reef!) The reef was somewhat of a disappointment as much of it has died away, but there were some small school's of brilliant blue fish that made it worth our while, and the view from the boat was better than any underwater paradise could have been. Aqua blue water gently lapped the palm lined sandy coast and the mountains of Upolu rose like giants in the background. The water was crystal clear and felt like luke warm bath water. The only downside of the safety and security course was the paranoia that comes with knowledge: knowing that a stone-fish could be buried under any sandy beach waiting to prick our feet or a man of war may be floating by aimlessly seeking it's next prey. It was reassuring to hear that sharks are a rarity on the reef though!
After the S&S class we loaded up our brightly painted school bus and travelled across the island to the other side of paradise: pristine beaches, tranquil waters, and beach fale's (sheltered, raised platforms) awaited us. We ate a lunch of oranges, peanut butter, crackers, and something like American cheese that was surprisingly good (or maybe I was just really hungry!) We swam in the luke warm water and played frisbee on the beach.
Then it was off to the tsunami struck area. I had intended to write a good deal about the experience of driving through such a devastated area: what we saw, what it once was, and what it will take to restore things to how they once were, but I find myself at a loss for words (not such a good thing for an aspiring blogger!) Twenty FULL villages were washed away to the point that you could not tell that any life had been there before. What was once an area of pristine beaches is now covered in mud, debris, and wreckage. All but one of Samoa's resorts were destroyed which is taking a huge toll on the economy, and virtually every Samoan seems to have lost either a friend or family member. Being on the other side of the island we are really sheltered to the after affects of the tsunami, but driving through the disaster area really brought to light the fact that it will be years till Samoa fully recovers. Hundreds of people are homeless and their land, inhabitable. It is frustrating to be cooped up in Apia studying language all day when 2 hours away a major recovery effort is under way. All of us feel like we should be out there aiding in the relief, but there isn't much we can do about it at this point.
On Saturday our group will move to our host village about an hours drive outside of the city where we will live for the next few weeks (no one is sure if it will be two, three, or four weeks!) There we will live with host families, have intensive language studies, and practice teaching ESL in a model school. I am eagerly looking forward to the new challenges that lay ahead!
Being that it is 8:30 I am getting sleepy and am going to head offline for the evening. I am still on this incredible morning schedule and the days are draining between the heat and the lessons, so if I am awake past 9:30pm it is a miracle! Then again, no one else is awake, so there really is no point in being a night owl. Manuai la'po (good night!) and be in touch!