We arrived very safely to Samoa this morning at about 5:30am. Our flight was 10 hours long and I was able to sleep for about 6 hours, maybe more. It was GREAT. Nice plane, brand new seats, lots of movie choices...I watched "All About Steve" with Sandra Bullock and also I saw three episodes of a new show from HBO called Bored to Death. I like Jason Schwartzman, and he's cute as a writer/total loser-turned-private-detective.
So, anyway, here are some highlights from Samoa:
It's one thousand degrees, so there's no way to look pretty.
Men wear skirts.
Men cops wear skirts.
200 years ago, cannibalism was happening, and every family was responsible to take turns turning a member of the family over to the High Chief to get EATEN. Well, the son of the head of state conspired with a family whose turn it was. He switched places with the sacrificee and requested that he be wrapped in the palm leaf face-up, instead of the usual face-down, and this was to teach his dad a lesson. It did, and then there was no more cannibalism on the island. Our shuttle bus driver, here-on out to be called by his name, "Tao", built his house on that very site, and no matter how many hurricanes come, he rebuilds the house because that history is important to him. Also he has 15 kids, and is a chief of a small village himself. The village is called Fasito tai. He said his job was to 'keep everybody in line'. We drove 38 kilometers to our hotel and all the while he told us fascinating stories of the islands' history. I noticed that everybody hangs their laundry out to dry. All homes are open-air and have doors and windows open with no screens. I see dogs running around as Tao tells us how the school term has just begun and that children wear uniforms from primary school all the way through university, and if they have no uniform, then they cannot go to school. He talked about how passionate he is about keeping the rubbish picked up. "A clean environment is a healthy environment", he said as I noticed yet another bus drive by packed with about 150 people. These buses travel the islands and seat about 35 people, but they fill up quite quickly and so everybody just sits on everybody else's laps. Nobody stands, as it is disrespectful to stand and talk in the presence of your elders.
It's very humid here. There are palm trees, hibiscus, all kinds of plants that we can only see in the summertime back in Minnesota are just growing willy nilly everywhere. A season of Survivor was filmed here, I'm not sure which one, or if it has even aired yet...my mom will know.
Samoa became independent from the British 45 years ago, and was the first Pacific Island to do so. They are very proud of this, and enjoy making their own laws. We read that in 362 villages, there are 18,000 chiefs!
Everyone is in everyone else's business, according to our shuttle bus driver, and so everybody honks and waves at everybody else. He said all cars need a good horn.
After Tao dropped us off at the hotel, we checked into our room, which wasn't quite what we were expecting. I could have sworn that we sprung for the private bathroom. There wasn't one in the room...but my memory is pretty terrible lately and the down-the-hall-bathroom wasn't THAT far away, so I decided to crash. And, you know how you always turn down the covers to check and make sure the sheets are clean? I did that, and a lizard darted across the bed. Gecko more like, but it freaked me right out. As I type this, there are 7 geckos crawling on the ceiling. This morning, when that gecko darted across my bed, I must admit that I second-guessed this entire "year off" nonsense. What the heck am I thinking? I am not a gecko person. I am a clean, clean, no bugs, screams at spiders kind of person.
This year is all about conquering fears, though, and here's the first one: sleeping with geckos. Of course I have a cold and have to breathe through my mouth, which means it'll be hangin' WIDE OPEN for all the lil' things to crawl inside and take a nap.