I packed in a rush, haphazardly throwing things into my bag. The promise of an early bus ride is worth the disorganization. I kissed Mele on the cheek, said goodbye, and headed out the door. I patted down my pockets, and realized my camera was missing. Akanese shouted (in Samoan), “It’s in your bag!” How did she know that?
Anyway, Asolima was sitting on the porch of the house next door, so I went to sit with her. “The bus is coming, Mati,” she said. “It’s better to take this one and take Tiavi [the more direct route to Apia] , than to catch the one at 2:00.” I agreed.
“Do you want some tea?” the neighbors asked. I declined the offer. After all, I had a bus to catch.
Oge came out with a bag of taro and papaya for me to take with me. I then realized I hadn’t given Asolima the can of corned beef I’d brought. She appreciated the gift, but scolded me for not giving it to her last night. “Then you could have had some,” she said. Exactly, thought I.
After a while Fialupe, a cousin of my family, came walking out of our house. Asolima told her to wait with me in the falekomiti, the open fale where the women’s committee holds their meetings. We went over, and Fialupe, Akanese, and I passed the time quizzing each other on verbal spelling. “Saw—ee—pee—ooh—nu—ee,” I called out. “Sipuni!” Akanese sang back. We played this game for some time, all the while watching for the bus.
Asolima came over and asked for my phone to call the bus driver, who didn’t pick up. She proceeded to play a lengthy game of Nature Park while the spelling continued. “Faw—ah—law—ay—saw—ah,” Fialupe threw out to the group. “Faleese!” shouted Akanese. This was funny because Fialupe had spelled falesā, which means “church,” but Akanese guessed faleese, which means “toilet”.
Still no bus.
The rain let up after a while (it had been raining), and we headed across the street to the church. I think this is my family’s week to sweep and dust the church and decorate the altar. Together Fialupe and Asolima swept out the entire church while we waited. It was 1:39. Something had gone wrong.
Asolima called the driver again. “He’s in Lefaga.” The next district over.
I tsked. “Mamao.” Far.
Asolima sat down with the kids and Fialupe finished the sweeping and I opened my book and read for a while. When I looked up, Asolima and the baby had disappeared.
The bus came. We yelled. It didn’t stop.
“It’s turning around,” Fialupe explained.
She was right. It came back and stopped promptly in front of the church, headed in the direction away from the more direct route to Apia. It was 2:05.
Right on time.
I hope you’re well. Pictures below.
Keleme. Photogenic as usual.
Me. Excitement just oozing out.
Akenese. The most darling child to ever eat sugar cane.
Fialupe. You can almost see her face in this picture! A triumph in photography.