Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Earthquake Odds and Ends

With the arrival of Group 82 tomorrow and other big dates looming later in the week, earthquake coverage is going to have to move to the backseat. With school back in session and the relief effort moving into the rebuilding phase, it’s time to move on. I realize Americans are known for having short attention spans, and I hate to fall into the stereotype, but we can’t deny who we are, right? I will be sure to update the blog with tsunami relief news, and this Friday I’ll post about Thursday’s national mourning. But to conclude the wall-to-wall earthquake coverage, here are some odds and ends:
  • It hasn’t rained in a long time—maybe four or five weeks. It’s so dry peoples’ lawns are starting to turn brown. The rugby field in front of my school is all brown. Apia is dusty, but the south side with all the dirt dragged around by the tsunami is terrible. As Ruane put it, “You get home and your hands look clean, but then you wash them and the water turns brown.” It’s awful on the eyes, and people driving through are strongly encouraged to roll up windows and/or wear masks. Samoa needs rain.
  • The John Williams Building, made famous for being the site of the Mary apparition, sustained a fair amount of earthquake-related damage. This makes the apparition-as-an-omen theory slightly more intriguing.
  • While riding around with the Germans on Thursday morning, one asked if there’d be “guvs”. Ruane, unable to discern his English through the accent, asked him to repeat himself. “You know, guvs,” he said, “Like hand shoes.”
  • Apong told me today he drove out of a decimated village and kids in the neighboring village, which was untouched were out playing volleyball. I don’t know, Apong, I’ve been pretty impressed with Samoa’s ability to band together and reach out. Red Cross sites have been crowded with volunteers. And who’s to say a lax game of pick-up volleyball isn’t just what the doctor ordered?
  • While taking a long ride up to the Lalomanu mauamaga on Friday, it was clear enough we could just make out the outline of American Samoa in the distance. It was pretty cool. Koa, Phil, and I saw it again on Saturday.
  • On that same trip, Phil pointed out we never would have seen the Lalomanu maumaga unless the earthquake had happened. True. I went to a lot of places in Samoa I’d never been before over the past week. These include:
    • Vaitele Fou. Inland from the road to the airport, this village has street signs. Mindblowing!
    • Siuniu. Trent and I dropped off a bunch of relief supplies in this village inland from Salesatele. The turn-off from the main road is a little hidden, and this haven was up in the hills and green and cool.
    • The Saleapaga Maumaga. Beautiful and semi-paved and sans mosquitoes, the scenery at the cliff-top plantation was gorgeous. It was terrible to visit under such circumstances, but the beauty was undeniable.
  • The beauty of much of Samoa’s south coast is undeniable, it’s more menacing than anything else. With all the sand pulled into the ocean by the tsunami, the waters along the coast are now a dazzling aqua, but the crashing of the waves seemed like the evil smile of a femme fatale.
  • Casey claimed there were 47 other earthquakes larger than 5.0 in Samoa on Tuesday, 29 September. Maengi says she’s been feeling constant shaking ever since The Big One. I guess I’ve felt aftershocks here and there, but it might just be the caffeine.
  • Today someone asked me about how the earthquake demonstrated Samoa’s collectivist culture. The nation’s ability to band together was impressive, but even more inspiring is the perseverance demonstrated by those directly affected. Whether it was the fale in Saleapaga that had a freshly built roof yesterday afternoon or simply the good spirits and smiling faces of the donation recipients, I am humbled by people’s resilience.
That’s all I got. I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

I think this is my favorite picture from the week.

Cracks from the earthquake in the John Williams Building.

Palm trees are also resilient. Can you see the deciduous tree at the far left of the picture? It is dead because of the salt water from the ocean. The palm trees on the right are thriving despite the salt. Sure, they're a little brown, but that's from age.

Cracked cement falling off my school. I think they're going to tear this building down.


Anonymous said...

you made me cry again. very touching.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt

Thanks for your excellent coverage of the tsunami and your blog in general. I look forward to reading each new instalment so please keep it up.


Unknown said...

move forward if you must. keep us updated on rebuilding effort if you can. i am anticipating friday's blog.

Barb Carusillo said...

You have so greatly anticipated the new group's arrival that I am anxious to hear all about that. I hope it is all you have hoped, and these guys will benefit from your seasoned experience

Amanda said...

I love this entry. I'm very proud of you. I'm happy to also hear about hand shoes. Yay for group 82 coming!

reenie1love said...

Great post! Thanks for all the updates.

Unknown said...

I love this entry Matt!! meeting u was a real pleasure, sorry we didnt make lunch :(
thank you for everything especially for this BLOG entry!!
malo le tauivi, malo le onosai! Faamanuia le Atua ia oe aemaise le tou aiga!!
alofaagas from Japan