Saturday, October 10, 2009

Safe and Sound and Samoa

Talofa from Samoa! It's been a whirlwind of a week settling into Peace Corps life here in Apia, Western Samoa. Twenty two of us meet in LA on October 6th to embark on the biggest adventure of our lives. I thought I would be nervous, but there was no time for that; a calm, collected sense of readiness had engulfed me and I found myself eager to get on the plane and get to Samoa!

We registered with the Peace Corps Monday night, had a night to relax, and then Tuesday morning our adventure began. A day of conferences kept us busy, and then at 6pm we checked out of our luxury hotel and left for the airport. After having our last American beers and burgers at The Roadside Cafe in LAX we boarded the Air New Zealand flight to Samoa. I intended to watch a movie or two but fell asleep before dinner was served and slept the next 9 hours. When I awoke, we were only an hour from Samoa and the reality struck - we were about to be on an island for the next two years of our lives!

Our plane touched down just before dawn and as we passed through customs we were serenaded by few melodious guitars and gentle voices. We collected our bags with little difficulty, sent our bags through screening, and were greeted on the other side by a host of current Peace Corps Samoa staff and volunteers, loaded with big smiles and flowery lai's. Somewhere in between landing and meeting our Peace Corps escorts the sun rose and as we loaded the bus to take us to our hotel in Apia, we were struck with the beauty of our surroundings. Palm tree's lined the entrance to the airport, and after a few turns in the road, we found ourselves driving along the sea wall. Men board their fishing canoes, children waved as they waited for their school busses, and the fish circled and jumped.

We arrived at the hotel, got our room assignments (4 to a room!) and then passed out for a few hours before the first day of training began.

So much has happened in the past week and I will go into more detail because it has been every bit as adventurous as I imagined it would be! But for now, it is Saturday afternoon and it is our first day off, so time to hit the beach! Tofa for now!

My address here in Samoa:

Rachel Goldstein, PCT

Peace Corps Samoa

Private Mail Bag

Apia, Western Samoa

Points of intrigue for the next entry: The tsunami evacuation, yoga at dawn, my new name (Lasela!), delicious fish dishes, and pictures pictures pictures! So make sure to check it out!

Samoan word/phrase of the day: "Manuia le aso" mean "have a good day"

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