Friday, October 21, 2005

Pu'a'a i le pasi (Pig on the bus)

I just want it documented that there was a pig on my bus today. I live just outside the main town area and not in the faraway village area, but today I shared the bus with a pig inside a rice sack. The young man who brought him onto the bus dropped off the rice sack next to the bus driver in the front of the bus and then went to sit in the back of the bus as where, young Samoan boys are to sit. I was amused for the duration of the bus ride to the market watching the pig squirm and try to escape his containment to no avail. I thought to myself, "I absolutely must write about this".

Things I'll miss

As I near the end of my time in here, I find myself becoming more and more reflective. Every moment seems to capture an essence of Samoa that I will forever want to carry with me. Such a moment, happened several days ago that I would like to share with you all.

It was a particularly hot day. The kind of hot day that makes wiping sweat off your brow pointless because it will only reappear with in 5 seconds. I was carrying my duffle bag full of GRE studying materials and two very heavy plastic bags full of groceries along Beach Road. I had walked about a mile from the market on my way to the Peace Corps office under the "big burning ball of hate" (a.k.a. the sun) when a young, short, little boy who, could not have been a day over nine, walked up beside me and asked me in the traditional Samoan greeting, "Where are you going?" I've grown accustomed to this greeting in the last two years but, in the hot sun, my tired body reverted back to thinking that this was an intrusion of my privacy. I thought, why does this little boy care and why does he want to speak to me? Is it just because I'm a palagi (white person). I answered with an abrupt one word answer of my destination. He continued to walk beside me and I quickly realized that I should be nicer to this friendly little boy and then returned the question to him in Samoan. He seemed relieved to know that I spoke Samoan and we struck up a pleasant conversation. He soon offered to carry my heavy bags. I told him he could carry one of my grocery bags but he insisted on carrying both of them, which most likely weighed near close to his own body weight. He carried them the entire distance left to the Peace Corps Office even despite it being a bit off the course of where he was heading. I was not afraid that he was trying to steal my bags for reasons being that one, I knew I could outrun this little guy and two, because he was really only acting out the traditional role of what a Samoan young boy would do to serve his elders or guests. When we reached the office, I offered to buy him a soda or snack but he refused and quickly turned away to head to wherever he was going. He wanted nothing from me except to show traditional Samoan hospitality and service. I highly doubt I will encounter 9 year-old strangers in America who will offer to carry my heavy bags in the hot sun and who would also refuse any payment for service. This kindness and generosity I will no doubt greatly miss upon my return home.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Some thoughts about leaving

It's now 10 weeks before I say goodbye to Samoa and I'm feeling quite anxious, excited, sad, and stressed all at the same time. The last two years have been the most soul-changing of my entire life. I've grown in ways that I'm sure others won't be able to see as they are changes that are internal. I know, however, that I am a completely different person than who I was when I first stepped onto Samoan soil. I'm anticipating a bit of culture shock, as they say, but mostly I'm anticipating some confusion and stress as I won't have my usual routine when I get home. Right now, on the weekdays I wake up around 6:30am to the sound of crowing roosters and then maybe do pilates on my "fala" (mat). School begins at 8:30 and I spend my day speaking Samoan to my students and joking with the school staff. After school I might give a workshop, train staff on using the computer, or have a meeting in town. Around 3:30 I take a not too crowded bus into town and stop at the PC office to check my e-mail before I head to paddling (by far, the best part of my day), where I get to watch the sun set over the ocean. Then my boyfriend, Simati, and I go home in the back of a friend's pick-up truck to make a quiet dinner at home. Everything will be so different when I'm back home. Different from what I remember. Although, I know in my head that different can be good and that this next journey will be just that. Another journey. I really don't have a specific experience to journal at this time. I more or less just wanted a outlet for some of the feelings I'm having right now.