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Reisverslag A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 4 ‘Samoan life’
23 maart 2015
A Dutch girl in Samoa: CH 4 ‘Samoan life’
Here is another update from far far away!
First I would like to say that I have found a way to put a lot of photos and clips via the internet. I have made a Facebook page called ‘Psychologist Projects Abroad Samoa’ (http://facebook.com/psychologistsamoa). I got the idea thanks to my roommate. It’s good that I have the Facebook page now, because I couldn’t put many more photos here. So, please go ahead, see and like my page.
Now back to my update about Samoa. I will now give you some things that I noticed here in Samoa and some facts. For example, they drive on the left side of the road here. I probably would have to get used to be on the right side of the road when I am back home again. Driving on the left has only been since the 7th of September 2009. At that time there were some protesters in front of the building, but the government changed it anyway. In one day every sign etc. was changed. If you want to buy a car after that, the steering wheel had to be on the right side of the car. Nowadays you still see some (old) cars or busses with the steering wheel on the left side. The government changed this, because over time it has made a lot of connections with Australia and New Zealand. This has also been the reason that the country lost 24 hours as it jumped over the international date line from East to West from 29th of December to 31st of December 2011. This meant that there was no 30th of December that year. The ones who had their birthday then, had to celebrate it on the 29th or 31st of December. With this change it had become easier to doing business with Australia and New Zealand. Also Samoa is now the first country who celebrates New Year and is not the last one anymore. Samoa is at this moment 13 hours ahead of the Netherlands. However it will be 12 hours of time difference soon, as summertime will begin on Sunday, the 29th of March in the Netherlands. Then the clock will be set an hour ahead. Already a week later (5th or April), the clock will be set back for 1 hour here in Samoa. From then on till the last Sunday of September Samoa will be 11 hours ahead of the Netherlands.
Now I would like to tell you about the lovely animals you have here on these Islands. You have mosquitos who like palagis (people with white skin), aggressive dogs, salamanders walking up and down the walls, chickens and roosters you hear early in the morning, crickets you hear at night together with the dogs, very thin horses, pigs rummaging about and some birds which one kind I think makes a very odd sound. The mosquitos and dogs are the worst. You get always stung by a mosquito whatever preventive means you have. Then you are always a bit afraid of dogs that might chase you or even bite you. There were now only two times I got dogs running after me while I was cycling and one time I was really afraid of some dogs when I walked to Goshen the first time. Bottom line: I won’t miss the mosquitos and dogs at all when I will be back home! The rest of the animals I can live with. I do feel a bit sorry for the dogs. How they are kept here as a pet is so much different then back home. They live outside instead of inside the house, because of the heat and dirt they might bring inside. Dog food from the store is expensive so they get the leftover chicken bones from dinner. People don’t really teach them like giving a paw or to sit etc. I see no real punishments or rewards given to the dogs. However they do listen a bit luckily. The dogs don’t seem to be very impressed by cars. They just lie or sit on the road sometimes and leave their spot until a car is like 1 till 2 meters away from them. It is unbelievable! As a driver it’s very annoying, cause you have to slow down trying not to run over the dog. My host family has two dogs. The old dog Bingo and the puppy Tiger.
In the first chapter I already told a bit about taking the bus here. I told there were no schedules or actual bus stops. And you pull the cord when you want to get out. I do have to correct a fact that I wrote about the price. It is luckily not always 1,50 tala. For me it is 1,50 to town and then 1 tala to the hospital. So it does depend on the distance. When taking the bus I advise to try to avoid rush hour when everyone goes to or comes from work or school. The bus might be so full that there’s no room for you and passes by leaving you to wait for the next overfull bus. When you can go on the bus you either have to sit on somebody’s lap, have someone else (child) on your lap, have to stand or you can just sit normally. There is some kind of hierarchy in the bus. Usually the younger boys or men sit at the back. Older people will sit in the front and often people make room for them. Girls almost always end up sitting on each other’s or someone else’s lap. And I, a foreigner, am sometimes spared to have somebody on my lap or have to sit on somebody else’s lap. Thus quite an experience!
Another way of transportation is going by taxi. This is more expensive than taking the bus. If I want to go to the office of Projects Abroad I have to pay 7 tala. The thing with the taxi here is when you need one there’s no one around, but when you don’t need one it’s always like: Taxi? Taxi? Taxi?! Very annoying. Sometimes I am not even bothered to say no and just ignore. The times you have to take the taxi is usually during evening or at night. The bus only goes from 06.00h till 18.00h. I cannot go with my bike, because I don’t have lights and I am uncomfortable biking when the sun is down. You can spare some costs when you have to take the taxi by walking a bit first and then take the taxi for the last part (or other way round). Writing about the taxi makes me think about the driving style and traffic here. Like you just go through red light if you see there’s no traffic to the direction you want to go. There are not many road signs. So many people drive too fast. I don’t know what you have to do exactly to get a driving licence. It would probably be very easy. You cannot get lost very quickly, because there are not many roads in Samoa. If you do get lost, it’s not difficult to find your way again. Driving in town during rush hour on a school/working day you have to watch out. Driving on a Sunday somewhere far away from Apia is very laid back.
Some other typical Samoan thing is the shouting. They shout at each other at the other side of the house. They call out someone’s name and sometimes add Sau! (come) or O fea oe! (where are you). Another thing is when eating and/or drinking they tend to make noise (smack, smack, smack). There’s also not really a settled dinner time. Annick and I usually eat earlier, because they always eat very late. I still am surprised that they don’t feel any hunger around 6 o’clock. Furthermore don’t be surprised if someone is asking about your name, age and marital status. Another thing here is that you put your flip flops at the entrance before entering a house or fale.
I went to a Fa’afafine show on Thursday (12th of March) and the first male model show on Friday (13th of March). Fa’afafine means ‘to be a woman’ (“fa’a” means “to be” and “fafine” means “woman”). They are born men, but they see themselves as females and grow up choosing to identify with the female gender. The fa’afafine is to be considered the third gender here in Samoa and so are accepted by most Samoan people. The show on Thursday was with three fa’afafines and the show on Friday had six contestants. Both shows were really funny. Not many people attended it though. The categories for the male show were traditional ware, lava lava, talent and interview. Prince nr. 1 had won the first category and was also the grand winner. Prince nr. 4 won the other three categories. Oh and the most funny part was during the Fa’afafine show. They liked Tobias, the other Dutch volunteer. It was so funny when he had to go on stage and everyone laughed so hard. He had a nice first week.
I furthermore experienced a birthday for the first time here in Samoa. John, the son, had his birthday on the 10th of March. We had a nice dinner with the whole family in the evening with cake and singing afterwards. Also before eating there was a prayer. Because it was a special event, the prayer was a bit longer than usual.
Lastly, the current volunteers at this moment are Annick from Luxembourg, Kira and Yvonne from Germany, Kellie from Belgium (German part), Anja from Denmark, Melissa from America, Eivor (Ivy) from Norway, Tobias from the Netherlands and Alice from Canada (French part). Birgitta has left and the other elder lady Christa has just arrived. Also I forgot to tell and didn’t know before that Nori is from a Japanese volunteer organisation. As for Bumbei, he is still here I presume. He does a language program for a whole year or something. Next month (April) there is going to be a switch. Some volunteers are going away and new volunteers will be arriving.
For the non-Dutch readers: if you want to read my previous updates. I have translated the Dutch words on this site to English in my first update. You will find it on the left side of this update at ‘reisverslagen’ [= travel blogs] (below the photo of the beach). Next click on ‘new adventure awaits’, (name of my first update). Or you can click on ‘vorige bericht’ [= previous blog] below this update until you get to the first update.
26 maart 2015 20:01 | Door: Frans
Nice report, enjoy it
30 maart 2015 18:49 | Door: Annelies
Naomi leuke blog. Iets meer vertellen over je stage zou leuk zijn, daarvoor ben je tenslotte naar Samoa gegaan.