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Reisverslag A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 1 ‘Arrival’
29 januari 2015
A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 1 ‘Arrival’
Here is my first blog written from Samoa!! As you have read in my last blog, I will be staying in Samoa for 5 months and will be doing my internship here.
As with all journeys, my journey began at home. I left home on Thursday, the 22nd of January 2015. I said goodbye to my home and two cats Tarzan and Jane at 14.30h. I tried to hug them, but they weren’t interested. I think I hugged them too much that day. My mother first took me to my father’s office. From there my father and I would go to Amsterdam. Here I had to say goodbye to my mother and left at 15.15h for Amsterdam. At 18h with half hour of traffic jam and searching for the hotel, we arrived at the Van der Valk Hotel Schiphol A4. There we ate a lovely dinner at the hotel and had gone to bed early.
The next day (Friday, 23-jan-15) was the day I would left my beautiful country for real. Awake at 6.30h we had some breakfast and got ready to go to the airport. I arrived nicely on time at Schiphol Airport. My father dropped me off there and from there our ways departed. After this last goodbye I went inside the airport and went to the check-in. At the check-in I already noticed I have chosen a not everyday destination. The woman behind the desk didn’t understand a sentence and had to ask someone for help. Basically it said that I have date-changeable tickets, because the Visa for Samoa is valid for 60 days and when in Samoa you can extend it. So after that was clear, my luggage was weighted (22kg) and I have passed the very first check or control. After that I went to the passport control and the hand luggage control. Finally at 10.00h all passengers were able to go in the plane for flight SQ 323, destination Singapore. Fifteen minutes later than planned we taxied of at 10.45h. At 11.15h we were in the air and from this point I have left Holland. Now I should remind you that because of the long journey and getting through a lot of time zones, from now on the given time is and will be the local time. I found the plane to Singapore pretty luxurious. I was in a BOEING 777-200. A big airplane. Every seat was equipped with a pillow, blanket and headphone. I luckily had a window seat. Back at the check-in the woman had asked me what I preferred. The stewardesses of Singapore Airlines, (wearing very nice uniforms) gave each passenger a warm small towel. Also during flight they gave a menu for lunch and breakfast and a sachet with socks, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Beforehand I was afraid I would have loud noisy neighbours, but luckily I got good neighbours. On the flight to Singapore I sat next to a couple. The woman was from Portugal and the man from Argentina. They told me they worked in East Timor (lies near Bali they said). The flight went overall better than thought. Hallway I got really tired. After that I have slept every time I was in a plane.
After flying for approximately 12 and a half hour the plane landed safely at 06.05h on Saturday (24-jan-15) at Singapore Changi Airport. My ears behaved very well while descending. I did not feel too much the changing pressure while landing. When I got off the plane I went to the first toilet I could find and freshen up. I then went to the right terminal and gate and waited for the next flight. Meanwhile there are a lot of shops where you can buy things. Also you could eat something by getting a food card. When you are done, you could return it and get the remaining money back. However the best thing there was in the airport was a butterfly garden. There were beautiful big black and white butterflies, slightly smaller brown butterflies, etc. They had information signs about what the biggest butterfly and smallest is, the process of becoming a butterfly and that 5% (as I can remember) of the different kinds of butterflies lives in Singapore. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay forever in that garden and had to catch my next flight. Again there was a hand luggage control and after that I could board again half an hour before leaving. At 9.45h, 10 minutes later than original departure time the plane (an AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A330-300) taxied of at 9.35h and went into the air. During this flight (flight SQ 245) I had again a good neighbour. She had a window seat and I was at the side of the pathway. My neighbour was a girl from Italy (at the site of the Adriatic coast). She was heading back again to Brisbane after visiting her family for 3 weeks, which she hasn’t seen in 2 years. She was also a psychologist just like me. She works with people who have dementia. We both slept the whole flight, because we were both very tired. I was afraid that the landing part would be the most nauseated thing for me, but I was wrong. Every time they came with the food trolley (especially warm food or drinks) I couldn’t stand the smell of it. One of the flight attendants noticed this and gave me a mouth cap. Haha, I felt very Asian wearing this. It did help though. I couldn’t smell the food. I took it off again when the trolley with the collected food trays left and the air was clear again. Phew what a relief. I could always sleep again after the trolley had gone and weren’t shaken during turbulence. Yes, at every single flight there was of course turbulence. Well, 3 hours before landing I got impatient. I really wanted to be in Samoa and found that I have travelled long enough. Unfortunately, I can’t make time go any faster or travel faster, so I had to be patient. On Saturday (still the same day as when I left Singapore) I arrived in Brisbane at 20.45h. Here something really funny happened. The plane had just landed and stood at the gate. Before everybody could get out, there was a voice from the speakers saying: “Will passenger Naomi Levels with a connecting flight to Apia, Samoa report to the ground floor staff” It was something like this the voice said. Of course I did not expect that they would call my name, so I did not catch the whole sentence. My next flight to Apia was to leave in 45 minutes and I thought I could make it. After realizing they were referring to me, I went to the first stewardess I saw and told her I was Naomi Levels. She told the ground staff I was coming and she made way for me from the back of the plane where my seat was, so I could get out. Out of the plane I could follow I woman and she quickly guided my through the airport. First I had to go through the hand luggage control again and then we went for the gate where the plane was waiting. I was almost the last one who checked in. I didn’t had enough time than I thought. It was a funny experience, but I also found it very considered of them. Well, at 21.30h right on time the plane (flight VA 095) leaving for Apia taxied of from the gate and got up in the air. In the plane I immediately made a friend. Because I didn’t had the chance to freshen up in Brisbane I got to go to the toilet at the back of the plane. Only it really smelled bad in there, so I only went to the toilet and get out as quickly as I could. But heading for the toilet an Australian looking surfing dude at the last row began talking to me. He must have been curious. He asked whether I am Dutch, German or Norwegian. My Dutch accent betrayed me and he guessed it right that I was from the Netherlands. Stupid Dutch accent. It sounds horrible is my opinion. It was also the first introduction day in Sweden all over again. Another Dutch person also heard that I was from the Netherlands. The Australian dude, named Robbie, said that he was a volunteer via the Australian government and that there were also other volunteers who were in the plane. Next to the few Australians on board, most people were Samoans. There were no more Europeans or Dutch people, except for me, anymore. Although I learned later that a Belgian girl, also from Projects Abroad, was on the plane. During this flight my neighbour was a friendly social Samoan woman. Again I had no window seat, but there was nothing to see outside anyway. Because the flight wasn’t full this time, there was almost one seat empty between the pathway and window seat. The rows were 3 by 3 seats. I sat in a BOEING 737-800. Right behind the Samoan lady and I, sat a family with a baby. Of course it cried several times during flight. I did get not much sleep then. I have to say that after the third flight you get used to landing, go through all those controls etc. Also at a certain point I didn’t know what time it was or where I was anymore, because of being so tired and of all those time differences (Dutch, Singhalese, Australian and Samoan).
Finally, after many hours of flying I arrived in Samoa at the Faleolo Airport on Sunday (25-jan-15) around 5 o’clock in the morning. Hurray! I made it to the other side of the world! I was really excited! Getting out of the plane I wanted to take a picture of the plane, because I did not had the chance in Brisbane. Only I couldn’t find my photo camera quickly. I thought I left it at the seat behind me, but after getting back into the plane it was not there. I then turned my backpack upside down and voila, I found my camera. Of course I put it where I didn’t usually put it. I went from the plane again, took a picture and got inside to have my Visa. After having my Visa stamp for Samoa in my passport (which made me very happy) at the immigration desk, my suitcase went through the x-ray. I honestly filled in the declaration card. I ticked yes at if I had medicine and food in my suitcase. After reading the card, the security guard only asked if I had brought fruit. I said, no I have sucker, hard caramel candy (Zeeuwse Babbelaars). Oh, I almost forgot! You could collect your suitcase, when you got your Visa. There you were welcomed by a band who played Samoan/Polynesian tunes. So, it is true! You are actually welcomed by a band when you come to the South Pacific! Know I didn’t bring anything illegal into the country, two staff members of Projects Abroad were waiting for me and for Kellie (girl from German part of Belgium). It was also the first time I experienced rain in Samoa. Although it lasted only 5 minutes and it was just drizzling. They women brought us to our host family. On the way my first impression of Samoa was: dark, clam, moist, warm, tropical (palm trees and banana plants). I finally arrived at 7.15h at the home of my host family. When I met my host mother, there was already the first cultural difference. When we were introduced to each other I give her the hand and not thinking straight with my tired head kissed her three times. Very Dutch. She already gave a little distance after one kiss. I saved myself by saying that this is the Dutch way of doing it. After shown me my room, I ate a little and went to bed. Jacinta said that I should rest and she will wake me up for lunch. At 8.15h I had gone to bed while the rest of the family had woken up, gone to church or prepared lunch. First I couldn’t get asleep. At a certain point I closed the window, put the fan on and finally fell asleep. The first impression of the house when I first came in is that I felt like I was in a French holiday house or Australian house. However, looking outside it definitely looked more tropical. Outside a dog and some chickens were walking loosely around the garden and there were also birds and crickets. At 12.10h I was woken up by Jacinta for lunch and met the rest of the family for the first time. I immediately forgot their names when I was introduced to them of course. I only could remember the name of the 3 year old granddaughter, which is Alana. The daughter’s name is Ana Theresa and the name of the son is John. Vaise is their last name. For lunch I only ate some rice and cucumber, while I was still too tired to eat and weak. I then slept and rest again from 13.00-18.00h. Because the air was so humid that day I was very thirsty, sweating and I had to go to the bathroom a lot. Jacinta was so nice to give me my own water, because my European stomach couldn’t handle water from the tap. On Sundays only the supermarket is open. In the evening I went with Jacinta’s daughter, husband and granddaughter to town to do some shopping. In the supermarket they had a lot of things we also have, like cola, meat, Kellogg’s, white beans in tomato sauce, spaghetti, etc. Going to the gas station I experienced another cultural difference. They had people who filled your tank for you. There are only a few gas stations with self-service. Then the last thing they had to do was to take measurements for Alana’s school uniform at a tailor. They all have to wear uniforms when you’re going to school. Even the universities have their own uniforms. We got back to the house. Meanwhile it was already gotten dark. For dinner I ate some toast with pineapple jam. It tastes nice. When finished my dinner, I had a shower and went to bed at 21.45h. I had slept badly because of dogs barking all night.
Somewhere this day I saw the Sunday newspaper. My eye fell on the front page and a name attracted my attention. My own name. The article said that a ferry ‘Lady Naomi’ with 100 passengers from American Samoa to Samoa was stuck for 20 hours. Good to know that my name is familiar in these surroundings. The weather forecast was also in the paper. It said: Evening district forecast for Samoa meteorology division at 3.30PM. Saturday 24-01-2015: Situation: A south westerly wind flow prevails over Samoa. Meanwhile a trough of low pressure lies to the North of the group. For Upolu: Today: Fine and cool night. Few late afternoon showers tomorrow. Tomorrow & Tuesday: Mostly fine apart from a brief showers mainly in the afternoon. Wednesday: Isolated showers.
Next morning (Monday, 26-jan-15) I was awake very early at 06.45h. I got up at 8h and had some breakfast. Faleolo, the placement director of Projects Abroad, called me and said that she would pick me up at 10.15h instead of the agreed time 9.15h for introduction in town together with Kellie. As everyone else got to work, including Jacinta, the ones who stayed home were Alana, the two elderly ladies and a cousin. I read a bit till Faleolo came and pick me up. We first went to the Office of Projects Abroad. She first explained that the Katey Woolley, the country director, was overseas and would come back next week. Faleolo also gave us some forms, t-shirt (probably too big for me), information about the placement and phone numbers of the other volunteers. Meanwhile explaining about the placement of Kellie I could get behind the computer to e-mail my parents that I have arrived safely in Samoa. When there were no more questions we went for a walk through the city. Faleolo showed us the market, post office, bus stop, etc. We also went to the Digicel telephone shop and got our Samoan Sim card with Samoan number. I also got 675 mb data for the phone and could from this moment on go on internet. That also settled Faleolo brought us back home again. I got tired of the walking and a beat weak because of the sun. I therefore went straight to bed when I got home. I didn’t need lunch, while I already ate a nice chicken sandwich that Faleolo paid for me. The rest of the day I had read a bit and slept or rested. At 19.00h I had dinner (noodles) with Jacinta. Normally they eat later, but now I wouldn’t have to eat later than I am used to. Very thoughtful, but in this hot weather I am not really hungry at 18.00h. The rest of the family had a shower and would dine later. Again I experienced rain here in Samoa. Too bad it was only a short cool shower. After dinner I called my mum and dad. I even could FaceTime with my dad. I can also WhatsApp, send a message, go on Facebook and e-mail with my mobile. Glad to have heard my parents I got to the living room with my laptop to start with my weblog. John, the son and another cousin were watching (show) wrestling and afterwards the second part of Johnny English with Rowan Atkinson. Before going to bed Faleolo called me that she had to take another volunteer to the hospital tomorrow. She had an ear infection. So instead of 10.30h, she would pick me up later to show me Goshen Trust. She would show me the hospital another time. By the time Faleolo called, it was already 23.00h. I didn’t notice it was already late. I got to bed and tried to get some sleep. The dogs were quieter tonight, but I still couldn’t fell asleep quickly because of the time difference.
Next morning on Tuesday (27-jan-15) I woke up 06.00h, as also were the chicken. I stayed in my bed and got up at 8.15h. The whole morning I was working on my weblog in the Fale while it was raining. It is a nice temperature there. Now, you must be wondering what a Fale is. Well it is a nice place next to the house where you can sit. On the picture below you can see how it looks like. The wind can come through easily, and it doesn’t feel so hot. But beware, there are a lot of mosquitos there. When I sat there, Faleolo came around 13.30h to take me to Goshen Trust. To Goshen Trust is a 3-minute walk. The CEO and Dr. George (my supervisor) weren’t there at the moment. When we arrived the consumers or patients were just having their lunch. Faleolo introduced me to them, the accountant and another staff member. She also showed me the desk that shall be mine in the main building. I will and can tell you more about Goshen Trust and the hospital when I have actually started to work. I noticed that I felt very tired during the visit and said to Faleolo that I’d rather go home and have a nap. The original plan was that she would take me to town after the visit. So, the rest of the day I spent having a nap, eating dinner (beef with rice and vegetables) and after having a nice shower went to sleep at 22.30h. By the way, they don’t have a warm shower here. It is a luxury if you can shower warm. I thought that it must be nice having a cold shower in this heat, but I didn’t realize it was that cold. So all the times after that I boiled water and put it together with the cold water to a nice temperature. Just for now I would wash myself like this. Mainly because I got a cold. When it is over I try to shower with cold water and try to get used to it. The weather was also a bit nicer. It began raining in the afternoon.
The following day (Wednesday, 28-jan-15) the rain finally stopped. Waking up and getting out of bed at 08.00h I got ready to go to town. Faleolo had showed me yesterday where I could get on the bus. Here you don’t have actual bus stops or bus schedules. You just go and stand where the bus comes by. When I just came to the ‘bus stop’, I saw the bus come by. I was too far to catch it and had to wait for the next bus. The next one (15 min later) came from town. Two people who also waited for the bus said that I could get on this one. You just sit in the bus until you are at your destination. When you are at your destination you pay 1,50 Tala dollar (50 euro cent) when leaving the bus. As well as being able to go anywhere on the bus, you also can go out of the bus anywhere. You just pull the cord, a bell will ring, and the bus driver will stop. And whatever the distance is, you always pay $1,50. The busses also look very nice. I soon will make a picture of it and you can judge for yourself what you think of the busses. Also every bus looks different. The wooden benches inside however are not very comfortable. So, when I arrived in town I went to the pharmacy and supermarket. The most important things I needed were tissues, cough syrup and nasal spray for my cold. I must have got a cold after arriving here from weakness, the airco on the plane, the first cold shower, the fan and warmth outside. Next to having a cold I also got bitten by a lot of mosquitos. So as of today I spray myself with anti-insect, put on after bite stuff when it itches, drink my cough syrup and use the nasal spray. I can also blow my nose again with nice soft tissues, instead of the hard napkins I had to use after I had used all my own tissues brought from home. Being supplied I headed back to my house and took an afternoon nap (siesta ;). Meanwhile the sun was shining again. In the Netherlands I would be happy about it, but now I’d rather have rain. I worked on my weblog again and did some puzzles between the siesta and dinner. For dinner we had eggplant, rice and stirred fried vegetables with beef. The food is not that strange or different luckily. I had a nice shower afterwards and went to bed on time at 22.15h.
Well, that was it for the long trip and first days here in Apia, Samoa. The next blog won’t be so long, because I will be working and see the country. This means I don’t have so much time anymore as I have this week. I will put a lot of pictures and films here. A picture says more than a thousand words they say. Also I probably forget to tell about many things in this blog, but I have to save that for later and not making this blog any longer than it already is.
Foto's bij verslag (5)
29 januari 2015 06:58 | Door: Frans Levels
Je hebt goed je best gedaan. Is de woning links op de foto je verblijf
29 januari 2015 11:12 | Door: Jeannette
Well, Dutch girl, that is a good story.
Als je eenmaal geacclimatiseerd bent geniet dan van je verblijf daar.
We kijken uit naar je volgende verslagen.
29 januari 2015 14:12 | Door: Annelies Farla
Leuk verhaal. Wel even de tijd genomen om het te lezen.
Zo te merken is de reis goed verlopen.
Fijn dat je de foto's hebt meegestuurd, hebben wij een beetje het idee waar je verblijft.
Hoop dat je bent uitgerust, zodat je volgende week kunt beginnen aan je stage.
Veel succes. Tot de volgende blog !
Liefs Martin & Annelies.
31 januari 2015 15:52 | Door: Carla levels
Hallo lief nichtje,
Veel plezier en succes met de stage inSamoa! Onvergetelijk avontuur.
Ruud, Carla, Charlotte en Tom