Since my Birthday falls two days before New Years, I tend to associate the two together and as a result have a deep appreciation for the holiday. Regardless of how the previous year went, with a new age I always see New Years as a new beginning. I get very nostalgic around sunset, party with friends till midnight, and then get nostalgic as the ball drops in Time Square. Although the general feelings remained the same, this year was to be unlike any New Years I have ever celebrated. Not only did we usher in a new year, but with it came a new decade, and what better way to kick it off on the beach with my fellow Pisikoa?
New Years Eve got under way at 5:30am as I woke, drank coffee, and pulled myself together to catch the 6:30 bus that would take me across the top of the island to Ali's village. Along the way we picked up the other North Shore Pisikoa. Unfortunately our plans were slightly disturbed as the bus driver decided to turn around 2 villages from our destination. Estimating that it would only be 20 minutes or so, we decided to walk the rest of the way. Although we were right, 20 minutes feels like hours in the 8am sun of Samoa! We arrived at Ali's sweaty and tired, jumped in the back of her dad's pick up truck, and were off to the next stop: Maka's village. An hour later we reached Maka's, ran to the fale'aloa to load up on last minute supplies of tuna fish, bread, and coca cola, and then continued on our way in his neighbors pick up. Unfortunately this new ride didn't have a covered roof and we all were pretty red by the time we turned into Faleolupo-Tai an hour later!
The fale's were well worth the trip (and all in all the scenery along the way made the sunburn less painful to tolerate). Eleven or so fales speckled the white sandy beach. The bay was filled with lots of coral which made swimming difficult during low tide but was fine if you timed it correctly. We lounged around as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive and once the whole group was there spent the night catching up on each others' sites and lives as Pisikoa.
At 5:59 Lily and I did a NYC tribute countdown, and as the new year struck for our friends and family back home I threw a coconut in the air to symbolize the New York scene. It definitely beat any crystal ball NY could have possibly dropped!
At sunset we all went down to the water to watch the last sunset on 2009. Faleolupo-Tai is the farthest western point, and as a result, we were literally the last people to see the sun in 2009. Me and my friend swam out to a little coral patch and as the sky faded from blue to orange to blood red and eventually to black, we discussed the past year, the past decade, and resolutions for the new year. Then it was back to the fales for a dinner of oka (raw fish) and salad. A bonfire was created and the rest of the night was filled with typical new years debauchery. I would suggest that if you ever find yourself on a beach at midnight and think it's a good idea to skinny dip, check the tides first; low tide makes for one crazy story the next day, and plenty of battle wounds!
New Years day was rainy and turned into a pretty personal day as the group divided up and we all just did our own thing: reading, swimming, walking, just letting the new year sink in and being at peace with the world. I was bitten by a fish, not once but twice. I now have two nice bruises from the beast. We played some volleyball in the afternoon and in the evening were treated to a farewell fiafia. Our hosts at the fales put on an amazing dance performance for us and then I was asked to speak on behalf of the group. I still am a terrible public speaker, but at least I don't hate it anymore, so it was bearable. I invited our group up and we unsuccessfully tried to perform our dance from the training village but the music was way too fast and we just kind of looked like fools. It was fun though! Then we walked down the street to a Church Siva that rocked; spent some time there, and returned home for a drama filled evening that I will not put down here.
By the time morning came we were all happy to leave. New Years Eve had been magical but New Years day was ultimately too much and I found myself relieved when the bus dropped me in my village. I had the strange realization somewhere on he ride home that I am only homesick when I am around other Americans. You would think it would be opposite, but I guess the constant thrill of the unknown is enough to occupy by interests while in the village. Once I find myself with my Peace Corps group, I am reminded of the comforts of home and I become very homesick very quickly. That’s not to say that I do not love my Pisikoa family, it's just that I am still adjusting and must make myself aware of my feelings when they occur. I don't want my friends thinking I am a miserable person, because I really am not! So with the new year comes new changes, a new life in Samoa, new friends and a new family to call my own for the next two years. I will continue to take everything as it comes. I have no resolution for this new year except to be patient and have courage that all will work out in time. Manuia le Tausaga Foe to everyone!