Apia Travel Blog› entry 19 of 54 › view all entries
September 14th, 2005 – by: hudonnoodles
We've been reading articles from all different spectrums on the issue...so I'm excited about forming my own opinion (that will probably change a few more times) this week in the village. Even though it is only for one week...it will be a small representation of rural village life. I will use my palagi ways and ask as many questions as possible...and hopefully participate in as many chores/activities/games as possible.
There is so much to say...but so little time.
And so few words to describe what I'm actually thinking/feeling.
I e-mailed my dad the other day and I started of by saying, "I feel as though my life after this trip is going to be one dissappointment after another if I dont make some serious changes in my life."
Samoa is incredible. Half of the United States does not even know that the islands of Samoa exist, nevermind that it is an independent country. Yet, everyone here is incredibly concerned about global issues and the basic needs of humanity. The first thing everyone asks me, after finding out that I'm from the United States, is "Are you from New Orleans?" And it isn't out of curiosity, it is out of concern for my friends and family.
Am I am also learning, while village life isn't entirely ideal or a utopia, it is structured in a way that I greatly admire. There is a strong emphasis on not only immediate family but also extended family. Meals are together, elders are served first and incomes are pooled together. There really isn't a social welfare system set up in Samoa because people rely on their families and that is sufficient enough. Families may not have a single car or a properly working tv and they may have to wake up early to harvest the fruit trees (that grow "naturally" in their backyard)...but they have the most important things in their lives. Family.
After saying all of that...don't get me wrong...there are some issues that go along with this. Like child abuse and a sometimes patriarchal family structure (and other assorted issues) but if you take the base value system of the Matai family structure, I feel as though you get a fairly well-rounded way of living.
In terms of everyday life for me...
I'm finally in the swing of things. I know my way around (the very small but gorgeous) campus. I've been feeling very comfortable around the SIT kids since Hawaii but I've been growing especially close to Cameron. She is the SIT student that I talk to the most and can relate to the most. We are both learning a lot from each other. (And for a cool fact about Cameron's dad - her dad was on the very first team to climb Mt. Everest) But I find myself starting simple conversations with her and having them end in long conversations with self-evaluation.
Without the constant media stream around campus (or in general) it leaves a lot more time to think about your own life (where you have been and what your plans are going to be) and to read. Both things I've been doing a great deal. Then again, our schedules are so packed with lectures and excursions its also hard to find time just to relax. But don't worry, we find time.
For example, I am going snorkeling tomorrow on an "incredible reef" that Zach has already explored a bit. This evening I am playing Rugby again with the Fijians and tonight will be spent studying for my first Samoan Language Exam.
Even Apia has become somewhat of a home. In the midst of the stares, dirty streets and palagi tourists...I've come to find a comfort in the now familiar streets. I've found it funny how I quickly I have adapted, considering I've only been here for two weeks now.
This country turns you into an extrovert...you say hi to everyone you pass (and most people you pass already know your name). I've had language lessons in plenty of taxi rides. I've talked to both palagis traveling the world on yachts and palagis just here for vacation. I've talked to Fijians taking classes here with four kids back at home and Solomon Islanders who are chiefs of their village back home. I've gone to church with Rugby players from the U18 National Teams of Tonga and Fiji. I've eaten a family dinner at George's Pizza with 4 generations of a Samoan family. I've also done the dinner blessing in both Samoan and English - twice. I'm learning two traditional Samoan dances and I've had one pulitasi made for me as a gift. I'm even beginning to like taro, as long as I have something to dip it in - preferably coconut cream mashed with taro leaves.
Things are going well. My brain has been working a mile a minute here. Nothing short of usual - but I feel as though it has been working differently. Maybe with a different end goal in mind?
"Its not good. Its not bad. It just is."
My travels continue in Latafoga this Saturday.
Life in a rural village for 10-whole days.
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