I boarded the bus back to my village around 5pm and took my normal seat towards the front of the bus. The front is usually reserved for older men and women, handicapped people, pregnant women, and foreigners. I always feel a little guilty sitting up there and am quick to move if someone gets on and needs my seat, but I always start off trying for one, since I am typically one of the first passengers to exit the bus and it is a hassle to try to pass 40 other people through the isles! The ferry was docking and I knew we still had 5 or 10 minutes before the mad dash began for the boat passengers to exit the ferry and grab a seat on their respective buses. For some reason the bus drivers are not very patient. When the bus seems full (enough), they take off with heavy feet in the direction of their final destinations. Any delays exiting the ferry and one is likely to miss their bus.
A handful of other passengers had already boarded the bus and were going through the pre-departure routine of buying keke pua’a, “chips tala,” popcorn, and donuts from the child vendors meandering through the packed bus lot. I bought myself a bag of popcorn and sat back to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes: people watching.
In the front set of our bus, a man sat with a megaphone, a ukulele, and dark glasses on. I quickly realized he was blind, and then it struck me: he was the same singer that plays at the wharf on Upolu! Many times I had listened to his music while waiting for the ferry to depart, and as it turned out, today I was in luck, for he soon picked up his megaphone and announced that he would be playing music during the bus trip!
The bus loaded and we were off. As promised, the man soon picked up his ukulele and began to play. I could hardly contain my smile as we made our way up the coast listening to his mellow vocals and soft ukulele. I tipped down my sunglasses, leaned back and closed my eyes, almost on the verge of tears from the beauty of it all: Of the music, of my surroundings, of life in Samoa, and of the fact that four more months still awaited me, ready to surprise me at any moment, just like today had. And then the moment was shattered. Some young Samoan, in their need to play DJ, took out their cell phone, turned the speakers on, and started blaring that same, maddening synthesized music that you hear everywhere. To my disbelief, NO ONE SAID ANYTHING! I turned and gave my meanest stare but that wasn’t enough. This rude, ignorant teen (wow, I feel old!) kept his music on, challenging that of the singer. I leaned my head closer to the music coming from the front of the bus, straining my ears to catch the music, but the moment had passed, and I could not get back to the serenity from which I had came. I felt tension and anger building within me at the situation, and on the verge of yelling, I did the next best thing: took out my headphones and tuned out the battling musicians with some Phish. My BOSE headphones did the trick, and soon I was floating in a haze of memories from concerts past and daydreaming of future shows yet to come.
At one point, I curiously removed an earbud to check on the progression of the musicians’ battle. To my pleasure, my guy had won, and the bus was once again driving to his tranquil tunes. I smiled, but not quite ready to leave my newfound peace, I replaced the earbud in my ear and turned to face the rushing trees as the bus danced on through the jungle at sunset, towards home.