Friday, January 22, 2010

Le Sunlight De Tropiques (Peace Corps Beach Corps)

If you’re hoping to read about hardships here in Samoa then don't read today's blog because today I want to discuss the luck of being assigned to Samoa. Before I begin I need to clarify that I do not see life as one big party, and I did not sign up for the Peace Corps to spend my time on the beach. I plan to work, and work hard. But for the moment we are all waiting for February when the schools reopen after the "summer holiday" (it's summer here - very strange to say that just one week before Christmas!) While we wait, we have been asked to just integrate into our communities, get to know key people, families, and the daily routines here. Over the next month I hope to meet with every family in the village. I began the other day and visited 10 families, introducing myself, telling them a little about what I am doing here and where I come from, and then asking for their suggestions as to what they believe their community would benefit from. Idea's so far have included an internet cafe to generate income from the passing tourists as well as keeping villagers in contact with family members abroad, raising funds for sewing machines and a sewing center where the women could design and make pulatasi's (the customary outfit that includes a matching top and bottom), and a lot of interest for individual family gardens, aka me helping acquire resources for them to start and maintain healthy gardens. So the projects are wide and varied. Today I plan to meet with another 5 or 6 families but it will all depend on when I get started. If it's too late in the day, it gets too hot and no one wants to talk, including myself!

Changing subjects, I had my first "Peace Corps Beach Corp" experience the other day. There is a picturesque beach about 10 miles from my village so Monday afternoon a few of us decided to meet there. Every beach I have seen so far has been more splendid than the last and this was no exception. I took the 15 minute bus ride and was dropped at the entrance to the Tanu Beach Fale's. If you come visit, this will be where we go! You walk through the gate and step back in time to a slower pace of life. Open beach fale's dot the picture perfect seashore, and just below the fale line the waves gently touch down. Light turquoise water laps over a nearby reef and into the lagoon. The water is shallow and warm. I cut up a pineapple my neighbors had given me and we ate a lunch of fruit and beer. Next we took out a frisbee and just enjoyed the afternoon sun from the water. At some point a volleyball game began just up the road but I opted out and strolled down the beach just taking in the atmosphere. On my return a bell rang and the 5 of us plus the 5 or 6 other guests staying at the beach were summoned for dinner. We ate at one long table, giving the impression that everyone here is family. As night descended and the stars began to come out I had a hard time believing all of this was real. The sky looked like a dark blanket encrusted with thousands of perfect sparkly diamonds. Countless shooting stars shot across the sky like necklaces of light. It was truly something out of this world and the next day as I awoke it was as if I was awaking from one amazing dream into another. I opened my eyes and gazed past my feet to the water that was breaking just below my fale. Needless to say I did not want to leave, but knowing that such a pristine, magical beach lies just up the road will no doubt get me through some rough patches here (as every teacher knows they are to come!)

So now I am slowly waking from the dream life of the past few days, I just cut open a papaya my neighbors gave me, and I am sipping a cup of Speeder and Earls coffee (I brought a pound with me!) I am waiting for Tevaga to come by and we will discuss the families we visited the other day and get ready to visit some more today. The feeling of outsider is drifting away and I find that I am happier and happier here. Manuia le aso!

Words of the day: malolo = rest; malulu = cold

Sa malolo a'u i le matafaga = I rested on the beach

Samoa i vevela tele, NY i malulu! = Samoa is very hot, NY is cold!

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