Somehow, Karen and I have managed to double if not triple our possessions here in Samoa. We came with what we could carry. Now we have more than we can fit into a van. The largest growth has been in clothes. We have been given tons of clothes… possibly more than we will ever need here in Samoa. We also had to buy some things for our new house. A stove being one of them took up a good amount of space in the van. Regardless we now have enough stuff to make a taxi overheat going over the mountain.
We moved into our new compound on December 20th, I think. We spent the first week helping the school committee finish building our house. This includes plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and painting. After about a week we started to move things into our new house and out of the guesthouse. We have set up a good chunk of our bedroom, however the rest of the house is not. The kitchen sink is not yet finished, we don’t have a refrigerator, and the stove is not installed. I will take care of those things later today. We have almost finished hanging all of our screen-wire, or as I call it “namu wire”. Karen said that our house looks like the little house on the prairie with a Samoan twist.
Our favorite part about our new village is the public shower, or the vaita’ele. We are really lucky here with our water. The shower water is crystal clear and refreshing. This shower is not like some beach shower house on Jones beach. We walk down a steep little hill across a rock or 2 depending on the tide. From there you can walk into the water, or you can walk along the narrow concrete wall and then jump in. At high tide the water is about 5 ft deep. I say we are lucky because the water is nice and fresh. I have not noticed any saltiness from the ocean. There are no curtains or anything like that, so you wear your clothes into the shower. That cuts down on laundry since you wash your body and your clothes at the same time. The vaita’ele is right next to a house and there can be several people in the shower with you at the same time. It is kind of like showering in a slowly flowing stream. We do have vai o le paipa, or running water at our house, but the vaita’ele is much nicer and the shower of choice.
The holidays have been nice so far. We spent Christmas working on our house. Our new host mother promised that we would be able to move in within a week of arriving and she was determined to keep that promise. On Christmas Eve, we went to midnight mass at the Roman Catholic Church in our village. It’s also the seat of the diocese so all the Catholics from the area came to the service. Before the service, each of the choirs performed their Christmas show. The only thing we did on Christmas was work on the house. We cleaned, put down linoleum flooring, moved in some furniture, and organized. At night, we had our first Samoan bingo experience.
Bingo is a huge event here in Samoa. Some villages have bingo every day, but our village seems to limit it to once a week. It doesn’t start until around 10 pm. Most people play cards with 18 separate Bingo squares. We played one 9-square card together and could barely keep up. Needless to say, we didn’t win anything. We were both so tired we could barely translate the numbers into English before they called the next number.
On the 26th, our new family had a special service at the church. Apparently, all of their family all over the world goes to church on the 26th of December and presents gifts in order to ask for blessings for their family in the year ahead. Vae (another woman in our family) spent two days making ula, or flower necklaces, for the occasion. As a new part of the family, we got to present gifts as well. They gave us each a gift basket to bring up to the altar. Mine had four packets of Ramen noodles, one packet of biscuits and a bottle of champagne. Karen’s had a giant container of gel, soap, and laundry detergent…. I guess God was dirty. After church, we went to Karen’s principal’s house for Sunday lunch and then to the private beach for a nice swim.