Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: A Retrospective

The end of the year is upon us, and since not too much interesting happened since I posted yesterday’s blog, I figured I’d go back and post some of the pictures that somehow slipped through the cracks over the last couple months. I’ve tried to post them in chronological order with the exception of the Moustache Gang above, which was too priceless to not post, and I’m not sure what happened. In any case, this is as long as my moustache got. A few hours later that same day, it was gone. It should be noted that AJ briefly participated in the ‘Stache-Off, but he dropped out early due to a previous commitment.

Maybe I posted this one before? This is me and Asolima posing with the guitar and ukelele... Getting ready to take the show on the road.

Akanese at the brand new resort on the north side of the island that was built in 2005. It was kind of weird being there with Asolima and ragamuffinly-dressed Akanese. Definitely an upstairs/downstairs feel.

My room in the village. Small, but cozy.

Jordan, Dan, and Erin playing Euchre.

Phil, Me, and Joey at the fiafia on our last night in the village.

The slap dance. Left to right: Phil, Dan, Me, Supy, Jordan, Koa, Joey, Paul, AJ. We look surpringly coordinated.

What is this? San Francisco?

I was the last to go on the last day of model school, so I ended up grabbing the paper that everyone used to throw away later. And then I forgot about it and I left it in my room when I left the village. My family found it, cut it up, and used it as trim for one of their fales. You can see it above Mele's head in this picture.

This fire was burning behind my house when I got home last night. I think it is the people who live behind me burning their trash. A little unnerving.

A little strange when you start recognizing the small pests that live around your house. This lizard is missing his tail. I see him (her?) often.

This is the tanline on the back of my neck. Hard to see here, I guess... But it is drastic.

And that's my retrospective. And it ended with me looking back, away from the camera. How appropriate. I probably won't get to blog before midnight tomorrow. So have a happy, safe New Year's Eve, and I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas in the Nu’u and Beyond

Saturday night Joey, Supy, and I walked for a long time trying to get a taxi home from Jordan’s. I brought up that I am really excited for January and for the holidays to be over. It’s difficult to know when stores will be open, whether buses will be running, and it’s been essentially impossible to connect to the internet. The cafés are closed and the wireless service that I like to use has been down. When I originally wrote this on Saturday, it wasn’t that long. But it’s grown some since then on account of life here continuing regardless of internet availability. Kind of unfathomable. I know.

Phil came last Tuesday afternoon (December 23) and sat bored with me at the Internet café while I posted my last blog. The ferry had been so crowded when he and the rest of the Savai’ians came over that they were forced to stand out on the deck, and all were pretty sunburned. Chris hosted dinner at her place because about half of group 81 (Dan, Erin, Kate, AJ, Chris, Jordan) was staying with her for Christmas. The rest of us (Me, Blakey, Phil, Supy, Joey, Koa, Paul) headed out for Fausaga on Wednesday morning.

Christmas Eve

Blakey, Phil, and I planned to take the 10:30 bus to Fausaga. I wanted to run some errands first though, which included a quick internet session, finding a toy for Akanese for Christmas, and buying some food to bring my host family. While we waited for the bus, Blakey’s host mom called and said she was nearby. So Phil and I got on the bus, and Asolima called me and said she was nearby. Phil and I filed off the crowded bus and got in the car.

It was the first time my host family had seen my haircut and shaved moustache and I was wearing contacts, and they were shocked. But the feeling was jovial, and they were very happy to see Phil and me. I gave them the mangos I bought, just as I saw that Uncle Laumatia had bought 3 times as many mangos as I had. Oh well.

Uncle Laumatia also bought a large spear gun for fishing, which was precariously pointed at Phil’s head for the beginning of the trip. Phil said it felt like something out of Final Destination. I was embarrassed for Phil for making such a reference. Ha.

Shortly after arriving in the village, Phil’s sister Tuese volunteered to take us to Coconuts resort, where we’d seen the fire dancers a few weeks back. It was fun to see the resort during the day, and most of the guests were out so we hung around with the wait staff. It was a good time. Coconuts is the first in a chain of 4 neighboring resorts, so we walked and saw each of those.

Heading back, we stopped in front of a small bodega where Tuese bought a bottle of Coke. She produced a glass from her purse and Tony (sp?), Tuese’s friend, produced a bottle of Vodka from her purse. And thus the storefront drinking began. Classy.

Not too long after, the alarm on my phone went off, which meant it was time to call my grandma’s house where my dad’s side of the family had gathered for Christmas Eve. It was fun to hear from everyone, and I was relieved when Ray told me that there were no new tattoos in the family. Maybe next year…?

After some volleyball and some dinner, it was time for church.

Church started out as it did every Sunday in Fausaga, but after not too long, the Faife’au stopped talking and the youth group took over. There was singing and dancing from the little kids; a nativity play by the tweens, which included the Magi delivering a volleyball; and another play by the older group in which Phil’s sister Tafale played an innkeeper and there was no room for baby Jesus because babies Filipo, Mati, Supy, and Peti were taking up all the space.

Church ended around 1:00 a.m. and tea and butter sandwiches were served.

Christmas Day

I am woken up at 6:30 a.m. and told that Uncle Laumatia is dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering toys to children in the village. Whatev. I go back to sleep.

I am woken up at 7:20 a.m. and told to put on my Santa suit. Double take. Wha?

It turns out Laumatia wants a helper. I put on the family Santa suit, which has pants that go up to my chest. I look like I’m wearing Santa’s waders. Also, these pants are crotchless. Once the top is crossed over my chest and I put on my belt, things look okay. Although I have no boots or elf shoes, so I wear flip flops with my heavy felt Santa suit. At 7:20 a.m.

The children sit on Laumatia’s lap, and I hand him a bag depending on the child’s gender. Then we dance. See picture below for how happy I looked when we danced.

After the Santa thing, we went home and I decided to nap. The family followed suit.

I woke up when Phil called and invited me to come to his house.

Phil, Phil’s host father, and Oge were drinking beer and mixed drinks. I joined in the fun. And this turned into a family dance party. A really fun family dance party, actually.

The most annoying part of the day (besides the aforementioned Santa incident) was that Digicel, the cell phone company used by most of Samoa, had its lines jammed all day. I couldn’t text out or call out until just after 5:00 p.m., and by then, my phone was next to dead.

From Phil’s house, the party moved to volleyball. And from there, my family picked me up and we drove out to the eastern end of Upolu where Uncle Laumatia grew up. It was a long trip, and most of us fell asleep.

Boxing Day

I am dragged out of bed at 7:00 a.m. because Uncle Laumatia wants to go to Apia to get a rental car. I have now seen him rent 3 different cars, and I left for 8 days, so who knows what the total’s at now? In any case, we spent the morning in Apia, and nothing incredibly interesting came of it.

On the way home, Asolima bought a 750 ml bottle of Coke and placed it on the center console of the van. As we rounded a corner going over the center of the island, the bottle fell into my lap getting all over my pants and my phone.

I went to make a call when I got back to the village, and after 5 seconds of conversation, my phone died. Coke kills.

Phil’s sister Tuese pushed pretty hard for us (Me, Phil, her) to attend the Siva in Tafitoala, the next village over. Mele put up a bit of a stink before giving me permission to go. I haven’t asked permission to go to a dance since sophomore year of high school, probably. And that was only because I needed a ride. Oh, the joys of the village.

This siva turned out to be quite a bit more raucous than the typical Fausaga Catholic dances that Group 81 came to despise. My camera had died by then, but Phil got some good pictures.


I am dragged out of bed at 7:00 a.m. Uncle Laumatia’s father yells at me and tells me I sleep too long. Is it time to go back to Apia yet?

Yes! It is! And we did.

I replaced my phone. It’s the same model, and I’ve kept my phone number, but alas all my high scores from Nature Park are gone. There was more shopping and chance encounters with each other as we wander back to our respective habitats.

A large group of us lunched at Skippy’s and then some went to see Valkyrie at Magik Cinema. We all rendezvoused at Jordan’s for dinner. Burritos. Tortillas and all. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was awesome.

Supy ended up staying an extra day in Apia and crashing at my place. Paul and Koa stayed at Jordan’s.


A day of firsts.

I manually washed my clothes for the first time ever. I’ve been using the washing machine and dryer since I was fairly young, but I’ve never washed my clothes in a bucket. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and for most of the experience, I was pretty sure I would never do this again. But once the clothes were dry on the clothesline, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. I washed my clothes.

Second first was I cooked a meal in my kitchen. Chris and Jordan dove headfirst into their kitchens with ambitious, exciting meals like stir-fry and cranberry chicken. I have been skeptical and uneasy about my kitchen, choosing to ease myself in with grilled cheese. I was halfway done with the first sandwich when I realized I don’t have a spatula. But I made do, and the final product wasn’t half bad.

Third first was I watched a movie on my computer. My parents sent me “Big” for Christmas (among other things). I love that movie. My favorite quote about “Big” comes from John Mayer as part of “I Love the 80s: 1988”; he says, “’Big’ is the kind of movie where if you come out of the shower and it’s on TV, you just sit there, bare-balls naked, until its over.” True that. Although I was clothed for tonight’s viewing.

So that’s been my last six days here. Hope your Christmases were merry and bright.

Finally, some notes on the blog…
  • I’m going to Falealupo on Savai’I for New Years. It is the westernmost point in the world (They actually bend the International Date Line for Samoa. So there.). Also, by this logic, Alaska is the easternmost state in the U.S. This was one of the most uncomfortable debates I ever had at eCivis.
  • Once we get into January, I think I’ll start a series of blogs detailing daily life/culture here (Going to the market, taking the bus, church, language, fashion, relationships, etc.). So email me with some questions/ideas/items of curiosity because I want to know what you want to know. And we can all look forward to that.
Okay, that’s all for now. Lots of pictures below!

Phil, Tony, and Tuese at Coconuts Beach Resort.

Children's Choir on Christmas Eve. Matatia's face (in the front row wearing light blue) captures the energy and rage with which most Samoan children sing.

Phil and me after church early Christmas morning drinking tea, eating butter sandwiches, and looking a lot like Mormon missionairies.

Tafale, Santa, and me on Christmas morning. How fun.

Christmas morning naps.

Me dancing with unknown 7-year-old.

Oge, me, Fipe, and Phil doing a Siva Samoa. Oge is quite the dancer. I really like this picture.

This is the message I kept getting on Christmas when I would try and send text messages.

Watching the volleyball tournament. Did I forget to mention it was a tournament? It was. Teams from neighboring villages came to play. I guess sometimes it's not very sandlot-ish.

The volleyball ref, Tony's bf, dressed up as a Cal athletic supporter.

This is the Nativity scene at the only McDonalds in the country. I think the gifts of the Magi were gold, frankenscense, myrrh, and special sauce.

Manual laundry in my shower.

Manual laundry on my clothesline.

Grilled cheese and Sprim for dinner.

Me watching "Big." You can see the piano scene in the background.

Shout out to 2416! Check out my poster! I uploaded this image larger so you can click on it and read the sentences. My favorites are the peach and the peas (sp?).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Comes Early

My usual M.O. is to write a blog the night before I post it, and I did last night, but it was half-assed and too much has happened today to not talk about it. And I won’t be able to post again until Friday, and by then I’ll have Fausaga and Christmas to talk about. So I figure I’m going to wing this one and write it right now.

My first priority when I woke up yesterday morning was to call the Safety and Security Director to see if he would come and put latches on my screen doors because I had none. But instead of coming to fix it, he said he would talk to my principal, which was a bit disappointing. It turns out my principal called the EFKS Treasurer, Reverend Joe, who I’d met before.

So by chance, I stopped by my house between shopping and dinner at Jordan’s, and Reverend Joe drives up. He looks around my apartment and asks, “Where is the lounge furniture I ordered? There should be a couch and some chairs and a coffee table. That refrigerator is too small.” I get the idea that he’s a little too concerned.

So I ask, completely apropos nothing, “How are things at the office?”

And as though I hit the jackpot, he smiles at me and says, “We need you.”

I agreed to come in at 10:00 a.m. today. His Excel issues were incredibly minor (Freeze panes). And then we went to lunch at one of the fancier hotels in town.

And by the time I got back, my apartment had lounge furniture. And then while I was home this afternoon, they brought my big refridgerator.

So now, in the words of Natalie Imbruglia, I’m a happy bunny. Here are pics.

Merry Christmas. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Updated view of my apartment as seen from the front door. Like the 9 yards of fabric?

Updated front room.

New fridge.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Savai’i Truffle

I think I was a little dramatic in my last post; though it was certainly genuine, it was written in the midst of a rude awakening. We got off the plane and met these volunteers who’ve been here a long time and they all seem happy and healthy and comfortable, and I think it’s easy to assume that once training ends, life gets easier immediately. But it takes time, of course. And life is going to suck for a while. Oh well. And on that note, happy birthday, Phil. Haha.

Friday was Phil’s birthday, and Koa and I decided to leave our strange new houses to visit Phil on Savai’i. Phil has moved into Dylan’s house, but Dylan doesn’t go back to The States until Monday so they are roommates for the time being. Dylan wrapped up all his business in Apia on Friday, and we all took the boat together.

The bus and the boat were both abnormally crowded on account of Christmas coming up. Samoa has a half-day every Saturday and most businesses are not open on Sundays, so we’re down to our last 3 shopping days.

I realized I’ve been talking about lots of different places for the last 2+ months, and I finally had the time to put together a map. Our host village, Fausaga, is on the south side of Upolu. My dead host father was from Apolima, and we made several trips there during my stay in the village. I also included our model school on there for good measure. The school where I live, Maluafou College, is a block away from the end of the cross-island road that connects Apia to the south side of the island. Also, so you know, the cross-island road is always referred to as the Cross-Island Road.

Phil’s birthday was fun. We didn’t do much but sit on the kitchen floor and talk, but life’s been busy lately, and it was nice to sit. It was also fun to take a boat. Koa and I had heard about how rocky the ferries can be and that seasickness is common. But Koa is from Massachusetts and I am from San Francisco, and we are used to boats. And it pretty much swayed like a boat.

Sleeping accommodations were the floor, which I suspect is common when volunteers visit each other. Koa and I took the 10:00 a.m. boat back, and I had time to do some more shopping for my place before Apia shut down at 12:30 p.m.

I’m feeling better about my house. Today I could actually imagine it feeling cozy, so now it’s just a matter of getting there. I’m contemplating building shelves, although I’m not completely sure how that will work.

Oh, btw…. Does anyone use Thunderbird as their email client? I’ve set it up for my gmail account, but it’s been downloading all of my email since August 2007, which is slow going. Anyone know why, when I’ve asked it to download new mail, it is downloading all of this old stuff? Anything I can do to fix that?

Hope things are well. Pictures below.

Dylan on the ferry ride to Savai'i. And, yes, that is Shelley Long on TV in a really bad Christmas movie.

Getting off the ferry in Savai'i. You enter and exit through the cargo hold.

Partying it up. Woo hoo. Left to right is Rosie, Dylan, Koa, Phil, and Trent.

Sleep situation.

This is St. Teresa's church. It's a pretty cool looking building right down the road from Phil/Dylan. PCV Rosie lives and teaches here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Maluafou College, Day 1

I moved in to my place on the compound of Maluafou College here in downtown Apia. It’s filthy. This is the case for many volunteers. Sites are often uninhabited for long periods of time before the volunteer arrives, which means that they’ve been at the mercy of the elements. Although my principal did tell me that the couple who lived here before me just moved out last week. For their sake, I seriously hope that is not the case.

Yesterday was a rough day. Most of our group woke up at 4:30 a.m. to see the Savai’I kids off. It felt strangely anticlimactic, but I guess the reality of yesterday is only starting to sink in. In any case, I had a hard time going back to sleep.

Koa and Kate, who are both going to Leulumoegafou left together, our Safety and Security coordinator took Erin to her site, and the rest of us were taken together to our sites in and around Apia. The van was packed specially in the order that we’d be dropping people off. My stuff was packed last because I was dropped off first.

Over the next few weeks I will be working on improving my apartment by:
  • Jumping through whatever hoops necessary to get the internet here;
  • Patching up the mosquito screens in the windows and screen doors;
  • Finding a better, more permanent way to hang my mosquito net;
  • Mopping several times over;
  • Scrubbing the walls;
  • Hanging some sort of curtains;
  • Badgering my principal about getting certain fluorescent light bulbs replaced; and
  • Looking into buying things… A rug or a mat, perhaps some furniture.
There is a strange L-shaped table connected to the wall in the middle of the main walkway. At first it looks like a bar, and then it looks like a desk. My detective work has led me to believe it was built for a sewing machine, but really, who knows? My principal asked if I wanted to keep it, and while it would make a pretty good desk, it isn’t near any electrical outlet or phone jack.

I mopped today with bleach. The blue mop that I bought immediately turned from blue to pale. Not sure what was up with that. I had purposely not bought anything because I planned on shopping today since I would have a better idea of what I need. I made three shopping trips on foot. My feet were annoyed by this, and it was HOT today. I haven’t bought a fan yet, but I think I might do that tomorrow.

The combination of the filth, the heat, the poor sleep, the ever-present language barrier, and the new solitude made yesterday pretty emotionally taxing. At one point, I was in the hardware store and I really felt like crying. But I didn’t.

It wasn’t all bad though. I did feel like my mopping did significantly improve the floor, though I had been skeptical over whether I could make any difference at all. I also ran into Onofia at the hardware store. He was happy to see me, and was excited to hear that I’ll be in Fausaga for Christmas. I cracked open the hard drive that Jennifer and Tommy gave me as a going away present. It is more awesome than I was expecting it to be… And I was expecting it to be pretty freaking awesome. Finally, my building is a duplex and my neighbor seems nice. Her name is Myengi (spelling completely unknown), she teaches science here, and she is originally from India. She had a bunch of people over to visit yesterday, and she brought over some pizza around dinner time, which meant far more to me than she probably knows.

I’m really excited about going to Savai’i this afternoon if for nothing else than the boat ride. I’ll bring my camera and let you know how it goes.

So long for now. Apartment pics below. I think there’s an ant in my hair.

My house as seen from the front door. Front room immediately to the right, bedroom is the door on the right, kitchen is in the back. Bathroom is between bedroom and kitchen.

Front room.


Bathroom. No cupboard door.

Kitchen. This is before they delivered the gargantuan gas stove that is taking up the majority of the counter space.

This lizard was crawling on my window screen last night. It was tiny. That's my thumb.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Training Odds and Ends

I’m writing this blog at 1:00 a.m. on the eve of the Great Scattering. The volunteers (we’re no longer trainees now that we’ve been sworn in) going to Savai’i are leaving the hotel at 4:30 a.m. to catch the first ferry. The rest of us can sleep in since we won’t be leaving until 8:30 a.m. at the earliest. And with training coming to an end, I figure I will tie up the loose ends on training so we can move on tomorrow.
  • As you can see, I got a haircut and I shaved the ‘stache. The “Before” picture was taken during the day so the sunlight is nice, and the “After” picture was taken at night with a flash after I wore contacts for 9 hours. So even though I’m happy about my shedding, the “After” picture isn’t the shiny, glowing paragon that I had hoped for, but it’ll have to do.
  • “Wonderful” by Everclear is a really sad song. I still find it surprisingly poignant.
  • In my interview with Dale, Country Director of Samoa, he pointed out that rather than using “Activist” and “Fatalist” in the Locus of Control discussion, better terms would be “Proactive” and “Reactive”. This is much better than my flowery “Idealism” and “Humility”.
  • On the Tuesday morning, my host family woke me up at 6:00 a.m. to pray. It was painful. We sang a song I’d never heard and then I had to read the bible aloud in Samoan. Psalm 1. I actually read the bible aloud every night for family prayer. That said, Tuesday morning’s prayer felt a little like I was their monkey doing tricks for them.
  • I think I also understated the roll of sandlot volleyball in the village. It happened every day at precisely 4:15 and would last until dusk because family prayer started at dusk. Volleyball was the social center for the youth of the village. It was a place to see and be seen. Most of the training group played volleyball at one point or another. Jordan, Joey, Dan, and Blakey were frequent players. I never played. But I would sit and watch for a while every day.
  • The bad “After” picture could also be attributed to Matt’s Theory on Haircuts, which states that for the first two weeks after you get a haircut, it looks just as bad as it did when it was getting to long. I illustrated this theory in graph form for Jennifer once. Lucky for everyone, I saved the file and I’ve posted it here for your edification.
  • “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. is a really pretty song, although I’ve never really bothered to listen to the lyrics.
  • I never told the second half of the story about when I pulled Akanese out of the van. One thing I’ve noticed about Samoan culture is that people don’t really hold grudges at all. Once a situation is defused, it is forgotten. But that was disproved a bit when I came home from school on the Tuesday after the Saturday that the incident happened. Things were quiet, and then Asolima goes, “Mati, remember when you hated Akanese and you pulled her out of the van? It wasn’t Akanese that put her finger in your ear. It was Lupe.” It turns out that Tafale told Asolima that it was Lupe and not Akanese, which REALLY pissed off Asolima (“I hate that girl”). Then Mele goes off on Lupe, all in Samoan, so I understand none of it. But tears run down Lupe’s face. So then there was a really awkward schism in the family that I had caused somewhat inadvertently. I was already pretty embarrassed about the incident, so this whole new chapter was pretty terrible. Lupe and I went for a walk later in the evening though, and things were cool. We also saw Tafale, which was awkward at first, but then things were fine.
  • Did you notice the sentence in our wordy Mission Statement that juxtaposes volunteer idealism and humility? Yeah. That was my idea.
  • I have read more of the bible in Samoan in the last 2 months than I have read the bible in English in the last 7 years. And the only reason I read it in English was because I took a class on the Old Testament in college. Matt Lanier would point out that this is because I’m Catholic and Catholics don’t read the bible.
  • Earlier in our stay, there would be sandlot soccer or rugby across the street from sandlot volleyball. I played soccer once, but once the kids with cleats started showing up, it wasn’t fun. It also became less of a game and more of a contest to see who could school me the most. This got old quickly.
  • “Africa” by Toto is easily the most fun song to sing at the top of your lungs.
  • The more I think about it, the more I am weirded out that Tafale borrowed my flip-flops and then never brought up the issue again and just kept them. Although that is sort of the way it works here. When someone says they really like something of yours, it pretty much means they would like to own it. Also, the more I think about it, the more I realize that there’s no way I can trade her for a different color. Black goes with everything, but it is not an option now.
  • We were all in a little shock at how often our host families used the word “hate”. I think that something is lost in translation and the Samoan idea of “hate” isn’t nearly as severe as the American idea of “hate”.
  • There wasn’t too much variety in the bible passages that I would read each night. Mele would tell me what to read, but there were very few in rotation. There was Psalms 1 and 23 and the first paragraph of Matthew 5. Judging from my limited Samoan vocabulary, I think Matthew 5 is the Beatitudes. For 2 days, we worked our way through Luke 1, but Mele was never good at telling me which verse to start with… so one night I read aloud the lineage of Abraham to Jesus in Samoan, which was incredibly boring for everyone involved. That was the end of working our way through Luke 1.
  • Dan and Jordan joined the rugby game one afternoon. In the locals’ attempt to school Dan, they gave him a black eye. After that, the village council decided to ban all sandlot sports except volleyball. Volleyball was also banished for a day near the end of our stay because kids in the village were going to play volleyball instead of going to dance practice for our Goodbye Fiafia. Funny.
  • Lupe was really nice. Her reputation (“I hate that girl”) was unwarranted, in my opinion. She was shy about having her picture taken. She would always call Bingo at our in-house games. Even on the night of the Great Schism, she still called Bingo.
  • I thought we were leaving the village at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, but it turned out our call time was 8:30 a.m. So I was late and my goodbyes were rushed. This was sad for me. But I am going back to the village for Christmas, so whatev. Buses don’t run on Christmas Day so I’ll be going out there the 24th and coming back on the 26th.
  • Finally, I can tell you that I’ve moved into my new place now, and it’s a little scary. Very few power outlets, the lights are out in my bedroom and in the kitchen, etc. But we’ll save all that for next time. Also, a bunch of us are going to Savai’I on Friday for Phil’s birthday.

    That’s all I got. Pics below.

Me on the day of Swearing In. A Samoan dress is refered to as a Pulatasi. Dylan refered to my outfit as a Man-tasi.

Akanese and Me after the Swearing In ceremony.

Country Director Dale and Me after the Swearing in Ceremony. Thick-framed glasses are standard issue in the Peace Corps. Also, he looks like Dan Leopard in this picture. Also, Dan Leopard wears thick-framed glasses.

Oge during the village dance that immediately followed the Swearing In ceremony. I still think he looks like Jose Leal.

Language Trainer Onofia dancing at the fiafia.

I think this is the same scene as the earlier picture from Culture Day, except from another angle. From left to right, Supy, Phil's Dad Isaako, Phil, Me, and I think Oge. We are peeling Taro. But who needs vegetable peelers when you can just cut off the top of a tin can with a machete and use that?

One of the pigs post-roast. Pretty amazing the efficiency of their cooking style. We baked 2 pigs in roughly 45 minutes. They stick lava rocks in the fire, and then cover the pig. Those rocks are HOT.

This is my bucket shower. First, you rub the soap on the pink loofa/scouring pad. Then you scrub your body. Then you take the big yellow bucket and fill it with water from the big green barrel. Then you take the little yellow bucket, fill it with water from the big yellow bucket, and pour it over your body. You could just take the little yellow bucket and get water directly from the barrel, but then you might get mosquitos or whoknowswhatelse. For me, the big yellow bucket was a good way to spot such things.

This is the toilet. To flush, you take the old paint can (not pictured), fill it with water from the white barrel, and pour it into the toilet reservoir. Flush as usual.

To'ana'i with Uncle Laumatia. 2 fish, breadfruit, palusami (coconut cream covered in taro leaf), chicken soup, chop suey, and a coconut to drink.

Cute, nerdy Iva at to'ana'i in Apolima.

And finally, a Canadian tuxedo right here in Samoa. Awesome, ay?