Saturday, April 16, 2011

Popular Destination

Some of my Peace Corps visitors!
As some of you already know, my village is one of the most remote areas for any of the Peace Corps volunteers living in Samoa. Having this location conjures up a sense of adventure, and thus many volunteers have been making the trip out to my house to experience another part of Samoa.

Recently I hosted our monthly book club meeting, and had a record breaking, NINE visitors, at my house for an overnight stay! Since the majority of volunteers in Samoa happen to be girls, the book club is thus made up of mostly girls. After mentioning to my Samoan neighbors that I hade nine Peace Corps visitors coming—and them asking if they were girls or guys—word spread throughout my village quickly that in fact, I was having nine female guests at my house! My neighbor Naomi came over that Friday afternoon with a huge flower arrangement she had made, and later, my friend Milo brought over nine coconuts for my guests! I think they were as excited as I was for the weekend!

That evening all the volunteers, along with Denise, the Administrative Officer for Peace Corps Samoa, arrived by taxi. After giving the tour of my house, we began preparing the spaghetti dinner with garlic bread and salad (all on a two burner electric stove top). The day before they arrived I had a thought cross through my mind, about how bad it would be if my power went out (as it sometimes does) after they had arrived. And as Samoan luck would have it, just as we were finishing the dinner, the lights went out!

My neighbors, in their Samoan hospitality, quickly came to the rescue, stringing an extension cord from their house (which still had power), and thus we were able to keep my refrigerator running, and have one small light for the living room. Nonetheless, it still made for an interesting evening. But it was still just as special, and probably a bit more memorable. The next day we walked down my road to a big waterfall in a neighboring village before they all started heading back to their villages. It was great to have so many great friends come and experience what life is like for me at my place on a daily basis.

Over the past month, I’ve also had a couple unexpected guests! A former Peace Corps volunteer from Samoa, who was in Group 14 (I’m group 82) and served in the mid 1970’s stopped by my house with his wife. He said this was his first time back in Samoa since he had left in the 70’s! I asked him how strange it was, and he said he was shocked at how so many things had changed. It got me thinking about what any return trips I might make would be like. Despite the years that had passed, he said he still had a lot of the language skills down, which was neat to hear. I gave him my blog address, so I’m hoping he reads this! However, I have to apologize because I forgot to write his name down, and now it has escaped me! But check out the picture below that we took!

Another day, I was walking through my village when a recognizable tourist vehicle came through (they always drive a little bit slower). They stopped to say hi, and I found out they were Americans, who are teaching in American Samoa (about 60 miles to the east of Samoa) through an American program called World Teach. They were visiting Samoa during their spring vacation (fall). I invited them up to my house for a look around and short visit. It’s always neat to bump into other Americans in Samoa, so our accidental meeting was enjoyable. I also gave my blog address to them (trying to get the word out) so if they are reading, a big hello to them too!

When Americans aren’t visiting me, I have my Samoan friends stopping by to keep me company! A few months ago, a couple of the boys who hang out at my house a lot noticed a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup sitting on my counter. It was given to me by Bill and Kathleen (volunteers who left back in August) but I had never really known what to eat it with, since I don’t cook meat at my house. But since so much time had passed, it expired in December, although I never threw it out. The kids kept wanting me to open it for them, and I tried to tell them it was expired, although they didn’t care. Samoans don’t waste food, and eating a can of soup that is a few months expired isn’t a big deal. So I finally invited the kids over one evening for “dinner,” and we opened the cream of chicken and ate it with rice. The boys brought some cooked banana and one of the smallest fish I’ve ever seen, but it was a nice gesture! They ended up loving the cream of chicken, and I never heard of any illnesses, so I guess it all went ok in the end.

And speaking of visitors, although they aren't visiting my village, I found out today that the production crew and cast members for a new CBS "Survivor Samoa," have arrived in the country and will be filming from May-August. However, their sense of "survivor" is a bit unrealistic (perhaps a blog to follow on that topic later).

In the meantime, this second year of Peace Corps service has been a new kind of adventure as I’m able to share my house with so many visitors. As much as I love to see them all visit, it’s still nice to get back into my normal routine after the “parties” quiet down. However, I’m still looking forward to the next time someone swings by my house for a visit. I may even have a can of outdated food for them if they like!

Naomi made this huge flower arrangement before my Peace Corps friends came!

Leah (foreground) and Blakey, working on a salad!

A former Samoa Peace Corps volunteer stopped by my house in March. He served in the mid 1970's. Here we are with one of my neighbors.

Here are the boys who came over for the expired cream of chicken soup!

They went after the cream of chicken soup without any hesitation.

A couple volunteers from the World Teach program in American Samoa were visiting Samoa during their school break. Here we are at my house.

For those who visit my house at night, I can offer you sights such as this!

If you prefer to visit me in the morning, I can offer you this!

If you are a mid-day person, this would be your scenery!

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