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Reisverslag A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 2 ‘First weeks’
16 februari 2015
A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 2 ‘First weeks’
Here is the second update from rainy Samoa! Yes, rainy. It is not all the sunshine you see on postcards. It is now raining a lot or it is cloudy. This is because it’s at the moment (November till April) rain and cyclone season. From May will be dry season. So I will have to wait several weeks until it is dry season. Not that it is totally bad, because there’s less change I get a sun burned and being in the rain is not as hot as standing in the sun. On the other hand, I cannot make as beautiful pictures now as when the sun shines. Also the air now is very humid, which is not really comfortable. But my hair doesn’t at least get very static. Now in Holland with the dry winter air it would be.
Every week (usually on Wednesday or Thursday) is social event with all the volunteers. On my first social event (Thursday, 29-jan-15) I met almost all the volunteers. We had a social dinner at 6 o’clock at Amanakis Hotel (Amanakis means Hope in another Polynesian language Ana told me). I already knew Kellie from Belgium. The other volunteers were Yakup and Raimund from Germany, Sophie from Austria, Ruby from Australia and Bumbei from Japan. The rest of th volunteers who weren’t there were Birgitta (an older woman) from Sweden and Jessie and Carly from Australia. It was nice to meet some others. You can talk with them, share stories and ask them questions. At dinner everyone ordered a hamburger. Because I still had to recover a little bit from having not eaten much during flight and because of the warmth I wasn’t very hungry I ordered a chicken salad. I tasted very nice though.
On Friday morning (30-jan-15) I went to the Museum of Samoa in town. It was raining the whole day, so I thought I would do something inside. The museum is a small building divided between four air-conditioned, themed rooms: history, culture, Pacific and environment. You don’t have to pay entry fee, but donations are appreciated. The first room I went in on the upper floor was probably Pacific themed. They showed all kind of different miniature boats / canoes. And there was information on how they travelled to other parts of the Pacific. In the history room I came across a nice story. It was called ‘The legend of Lata and the sacred trees’. Basically the story told that Lata should have sacrificed something to the god of trees before cutting anything down. The third room showed what kind of animal life and flora & fauna there is in Samoa and some being endangered. They showed different kind of coral and Samoan shellfish. Then the most interesting room I found, was probably the culture room. The room displayed a miniature Fale, cricket bat and ball (Samoan form of cricket is called kirikiti) and how sennit (fibres of coconut) is made. Also there was information on the traditional art of tattoo. I have put a picture of the poster below. The poster said: ‘Receiving the Tatau: Receiving the male tattoo, the Pe’a, is connected with many rituals and taboos. The tattoo artist, the tufuga ta tatau, is highly respected and will leave the process unfinished, if taboos have been broken. / There are distinct steps in the creation of the male tattoo which have to follow in a certain sequence: The asofaalava (first line on the back) determines the width of the va’a (boat) and the pe’a (bat; design beneath the va’a). The va’a is outlined and completed. The tattoo continues down the back and over the thighs to the back of the knees. The sides of the back and hips are tattooed. The front of the legs are filled in. The finishing parts of the tattoo are the punialo (lower abdomen) and the pute (navel). / During this whole process, the taboos have to be observed. The recipient never is left alone, but has to stay away from his wife or any other sexual relationship. He can only bath in seawater; the pus and blood have to be wiped up continuously. There should be no harsh noise around the house or where the tattoo makes place, and no sick person can stay there. Members of the family will accompany the recipient and comfort him with their songs. They also have to support the process by providing the gifts to the tattoo artist. / The Pe’a can take days, weeks or months, depending on the ability of the recipient to stand the excruciating pain, on the skills of the tufuga, and on the healing process. / At the completion, a ceremony takes place to lift the taboos and thank the tufuga ta tatau with gifts.’ Today it is different and not many people have tattoos made like this. Well I at least don’t have actually seen somebody with this kind of tattoo. Although I have seen someone receiving the Tatau. I didn’t saw it clearly though, because I stood at some distance.
Next day (Saturday, 31-jan-15) I went to the Misiluki Spa in town. I thought it would be a nice relaxing treat and good for the many mosquito bites on my legs. When I made the appointment I asked what treatment is best for me. They told me I should take the ‘Esi’ Papaya Body Wrap. So I said I take that one. It takes one and a half hour and costs $170 tala dollar. A girl my age did my treatment. She started with a coffee body scrub. It helps remove dead skin cells and other unwanted debris from your body. Then I had the papaya wrap. Papaya contains papain enzymes, which naturally soften and revitalize and heals skin when absorbed, and with the help of tea tree chamomile essential oils it works on the main areas such as insect bites and other inflamed skin. After lying for a while in the papaya wrap, I was unwrapped, removed it under a (second) cold shower and dried myself. Finally she put on strawberry soothing lotion with vitamin C. This helps sooth and replenish skin, it’s boost in hydration and helps cell renewal. I went away with my skin smelling nicely of strawberries.
On Monday, 2-febr-15 I had my first day of internship. Faleolo from Projects Abroad brought me to the hospital around 10.00h and introduced me to dr. George, my Practice Supervisor. He showed me the ward and introduced me to some other staff members. Only 1 till 2 hours I immediately got a case. They usually don’t do what the boy have, but because it was in my field they brought him to me. It is actually a real test of what you know. The rest of the day and also the week I was searching information and writing a report. From then on and now still I am getting used to things. Also I learn about the Samoan culture and about the mental health unit. I notice that I have to sit with them, ask question and observe what they are doing. This week a medical student and I got another case. Also a boy. If there will be a new case every 2 weeks, I won’t be able to Goshen Trust. I would also do my internship at this mental health service.
Somewhere on page 100 in my Lonely Planet Guidebook it says ‘Best Places to Stay: - Namu’a Island Beach Fale (p119)’ and on page 102 it says ‘Samoa Highlights: 1. Sleeping in a traditional Samoan fale such as those on Namu’a island (p119)’. Going to page 119 it says ‘Namu’a Island Beach Fale: (Map 104; phone 751 0231; Namu’a; fale incl 2 meals & return boat transfers per person ST90) Namu’a is only a short boat ride from Mutiatele, but once you’re on this tiny private island you’ll feel like Upolu is light years away (even though it’s clearly visible across the strait). Do a circumnavigation of the shoreline (low tide only), clamber up the steep central peak and snorkel the surrounding reef. Fale are open, basic and right on the beach – there’s no electricity so everything is lit by oil lamps at night. Meals are mostly local style (think fried fish and cassava for dinner, and spam and eggs for breakfast). Park your car (ST10 per day) at the shop with the Namu’a sign in Mutiatele and they’ll call the resort to come pick you up.’
Saturday and Sunday 7 and 8-febr 15 I could see the Island with my eyes and experience staying at a fale for one night. So, after being there I can tell you if the information in the book is right. So, first is the phone number. This is correct, but you can also call +685 758-8209. Secondly, I do have to set the price right. Because I paid $120 for one night, that’s incl. breakfast, dinner and boat ride. And for lunch I had to pay an extra $10. Then it is indeed a short boat ride. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes to get to the Island and it is indeed visible from the mainland. When we we’re there we, like described in the guide book, clambered up the steep central peak and snorkelled the surrounding reef. For snorkelling I used someone else’s goggles. Immediately seeing the beautiful coral and fishes, I thought I definitely should buy my own goggles. I have put pictures of Namu’a Island. The weather was not all sunshine, but still it was really nice. Like in the evening there was a sunset with nice orange and red colours. On Sunday three persons and me went up the central peak. Because it had been raining it was very slippery and muddy. But we made it to the top and had a fantastic view from the other side of the Island. We slept the night in three traditional fales. On the Island there’s is no electricity and everything was lit by solar powered lamps at night. I have slept good in the fale. Only two or three times did I wake up. Once in the middle of the night another volunteer was awake. We heard thunder and saw lightning closer than the day before. It has been thundering far away sometimes the whole weekend. So, because we thought it might rain we immediately took everything in and brought everything in safety. Of course, it didn’t rain until the next morning. In the morning we got eggs, bacon, bread, banana and kind of a pancake with a little bit of cheese on it. For lunch we had to’ona’i. To’ona’i is a big lunch on Sunday after church service. It consist of typical Samoan food, like palusami (coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves), fish in coconut cream, breadfruit and papaya. They also eat a lot of chicken here. There has been chicken in almost every meal now. We also had chicken for dinner on Saturday evening. There was also breadfruit (but differently prepared), pumpkin and a sausage.
After this lovely weekend I went back to work at the hospital. On Wednesday (11-febr-15) I finally received my parcel with my study books and dictionary. My father sent it to the office of Projects Abroad and it finally arrived after about 3 and a half weeks. Another thing worth telling from this week is that some new volunteers arrived. Last week’s social event (Wednesday, 04-02-15) was just with Faleolo, me and the new volunteer Yvonne from Germany. We then had McDonald’s (yes, there’s even one McDonald’s in whole of Samoa) and ate it at the seawall behind the old government building. This week’s social event (Thursday, 12-02-15) the group consisted of Ashley from Australia. He is going to teach children at a primary school. And there’s Anja, the journalist, from Denmark. She’s volunteering at the Samoan Observer, the national newspaper here. She immediately got on the front page. We had picnic and played cricket. Katy (UK), the country director of Samoa and Mårten (Denmark), the visiting country director from Fiji were also there. Also the day before I have seen Birgitta, the older lady from Sweden, at the office. Ruby, Carly, Sophie and Yakub are leaving one by one at the moment. The others were traveling or sick. Overall, I think we are now with 7 till 10 volunteers.
When searching in my guidebook for the correct word for Sunday lunch I came across this text ‘The ferries to and from Savai’i can get very full, especially on weekends, holidays and Friday afternoons. Arrive at least one hour early on these days and get in the queue (in your car if you’re driving or in the departure lounge if you’re on foot) or you’ll risk not getting on – the captains are (fortunately) quite strict about not overloading the boats. Crowds at busy times create a crush not unlike the front row of a Justin Bieber concert – it’s one of the only times you’ll see Samoans forget their manners and really push and shove. Boats seldom run on ‘Samoa time’. A 2pm departure means a 2pm departure.’ This is indeed quite true, as my host family (Jacinta-host mother, John-son, Ana-daughter, Alana-granddaughter, Epenesa-granddaughter & Noelani-granddaughter) and me had to rush on a Sunday morning (15-febr-15) to catch a boat after forced to have breakfast at Samoan time at the hotel (they were waiting for the boss). We had stayed at the other side of the Island for one night at the Vaisala Beach Hotel. Close by lives an sick aunt of Jacinta, whom we visited the day before. We luckily also had time for a swim on our small trip to Savaii. We did have to wake up really early (5.30h) on that Saturday to catch the boat at 8am. On the road we picked up Noelani from her parent’s house. Epenesa has been already staying with us since a couple of days. After one and a half hour with the boat we were at Savaii. From the warf it was still a long journey to our hotel. We also stopped a couple of times to buy something at a shop or to go to the toilet. On our way I saw a lot of fales. The animals I saw from the road were horses, pigs, cows, chicken and of course dogs. The one thing that struck me most was the Heineken beer at the shop where we bought some food. I was looking if there was anything to drink and suddenly my eye fell on a word I recognized. Of course I made a picture of it. For all Dutch people who are going to the other side of the world, you won’t miss our Dutch beer. Unless you don’t like it like me or rather have another brand. Arriving at our hotel, we swam in the ocean first, went to the aunt and family, had a rest and went back again. Overall it was a nice short trip. Oh and I got sunburned for the first time. I did put on sun screen (factor 50), but I must have lay in the water for too long.
To end this update, I put some Samoan words I already learned here. There are some more words, but I forgot them and not have written down yet. My Samoan vocabulary is at the moment as followed:
1. talofa - hello / welcome
2. leai - no
3. fa’afetai - thank you
4. manaia - delicious
5. timu - rain
6. tina - mother
tina - Tina
7. tama - father
tama - boy
8. ioe - yes
9. sau - come
10. aiga - family
11. matafanga - beach
I am going to end here. It has already been a long story. But of course there is so much to tell. And please, ask whatever you want to know about Samoa and/or leave comments :D. For now, it is getting used to things for me. As long as I remember that I do not live permanently in the middle of nowhere and later I would be very disappointed if have I left early. Also, I want to explore every little corner of this country. As you can see in the picture, it’s really beautiful.
Foto's bij verslag (19)
16 februari 2015 15:06 | Door: Frans Levels
Iedere keer weer iets te beleven, zo ver weg. Schitterende foto's.