The Mark of the Jandal

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Packing List

I posted this once last year, and I this is my revised list of stuff I'd bring if I had it to do all over again. This is a list of things that came to me at various times that I thought were important. Some of these things I thought of and some I did not. I'm sure most of this was mentioned in the information sent to us before coming, and I just missed it. Hopefully some will benefit from my shortsightedness. Presented here in no particular order:


Coming from grad school and being of limited funds, I didn't really bring a lot in the way of shoes. I basically brought one pair of running shoes. I'm not a big flip flop kind of guy, but that's what I wear the most of here. If I had it to do all over again, I'd pick up a decent pair of sandals (Chaco seems to be popular among the volunteers). I had a pair of Chacos sent and they worked really well until the sole started to separate from the rest of the shoe. Chaco, being a really good company, sent me a new pair based on some photos of the defective product that I'd sent them.


My roommate brought a really nice schammy/quick dry towel with him. It's ideal for this humid climate. I got something called a 'thai stick' which is basically a block of salt that works well as a deodorant.


I seem to recall the book that was supposed to prepare us mentioning things like "pants" and "dress shoes" and "business casual". What a crock of shit. There is no way in hell any sane person here is going to wear Khaki pants on any regular basis. If you work in the village you'll probably spend most of your time in a lavalava or shorts and a tshirt. If you work in the schools, they will likely have a uniform. Alternatively the ladies will wear pulitasi's, uncomfortable form fitting dress/top; and guys will wear ie faitogas (polyester manskirt with pockets) and some flowery button up shirts. Bring casual clothing, but minimize anything you wouldn't want to wear when it's 80 degrees and 85 percent humidity


I know there are some folks out there who are really stuck on film cameras. In my opinion, it's just impractical to get film developed here. The Kodak place in Apia can develop film and print digital pictures if hard copies are what you are looking for.

_Shipping Addresses_

I have friends in the states that gather stuff for me and ship it here. One thing to remember is that many companies wont ship stuff to addresses unless you have called your credit card company and authorized them to ship to that address. So if you have a set of friends you will have send you stuff, make sure you call your credit card company and have their addresses put on file.

_Cook ware_

My roommate brought a really nice Teflon coated pan that we use probably use six nights a week. We each brought a nice can opener. In retrospect, a nice cast iron skillet (I know heavy) is probably better -- you would be surprised at how many people can make it into the Peace Corps and not know that a fork will scratch Teflon. Also useful: a tortilla press (big one -- 12 inch) , and a small (two cup) French press.

_Shipping Heavy Things Here_

Depending on your assignment, you may wish to ship some of your stuff here. I packed up a box of text books to be shipped here. I was told by the PCB (Peace Corps Bureaucrat) that I probably didn't want to receive any packages until after training. So I left the box with my mom so I could have it shipped later. This advice may be more applicable to different locations, but for Samoa, you can ship what ever you want before you leave. You will have access to any packages which arrive during training, and they can be put in storage until after training. Things to consider with respect to shipping:

o Ground shipping can realistically take up to six months to get here. I've heard stories of a package taking a year and it took a package of mine three months.

o Air mail takes between three to five weeks to arrive though legends are abound about the mysterious package that took six months to arrive with customs stamps from all across the globe.

_Bike Accessories_

At the end of training, you will be given a bike. The bikes we got were fairly nice Treks though they seem to be giving out the Giant equivalent. They are supposed to provide you with locks and a couple other things. Now, the dilemma is that it's not easy to get decent locks and stuff in the country. One option is to goto the hardware store and buy a chain/padlock. You can take the receipt and be reimbursed. If I would have known, I would have just brought my u-lock from the States. If you have one, and some free weight, I'd throw the bike lock in my bag.

I also brought a patch kit, small hand pump, extra tube, and a chain tool. Later on I had a rack, a set of panniers, some extra tubes, and toeclips sent. The rack and panniers are really important for me and I've ridden over both islands with them. For those that are interested, will ship internationally and I really like their products. Email me and I can make some suggestions.


I brought a small tool kit (screwdriver, vice grips, dikes, etc), a set of hex wrenches, and a bike multi-tool with me. These have been pretty useful.

_Computer Accessories_


If you have a laptop, I'd definitely bring computer speakers. Nothing really fancy, but something that can compete with the sound of rain beating down on a metal roof. Make sure they are 110-240.

_backing up_

I'm really paranoid about loosing information. Most of the work I'm doing here is on computer, so I like to back things up. If you have a cd/dvd burner in your computer, bring 10 or so rewritable disks. If you have the space, you might want to grab a 50 disc spindle. If you have a USB or Firewire external drive, that would probably be ideal.

_flash memory_

If you're going to live in the village and are going to depend on the Peace Corps computers to get work done, I'd bring a 1gb usb memory stick. These things are cheap now in the states and they cost a whole bunch here. In fact, if you pick up 10 or so, they can be used as gifts or prizes if you're a teacher. You can also probably raffle them off to raise money for projects.


If your warranties are going to expire on things like computers and cameras, you might want to see if they can be extended for the duration of your service.

Email me if you have any questions.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

More of Teh Gay

For those of you who cannot wait to hear how this story ends on page two, your life is now complete:

---start text---
The management of the PFL Team Samoa is so keen to win gold at next month's South Pacific Games it has banned gay activities, drugs and alcohol for all team members.

It has also advised athletes to "eat to live and not live to eat" during the games.

The instructions are detailed in a memo to Team Managers, obtained by the Samoa Observer yesterday.

The memo was the outcome of a meeting of Team Managers at the Fagali'i Golf Course, on Friday 20 June 2007.

"Do not embarrass yourself, your family and your country by trying this in the (Games) village," the memo said about homosexual and lesbian relationships.

"Best not to even think about this. It's against the law of God."

The memo said the Management Team has set out rules and regulations so that there is peace and harmony at the village.

"With the rules and regulations there are also measures of discipline which the Management Team will exercise when any of these rules and regulations are violated," the memo warned.

"It is our desire that we are all mature, humble and responsible citizens, and therefore will not have to exercise these disciplinary measures."

But the memo has not gone down well with some athletes, sources said.

One sports administrator said the decision about homosexuals was "discriminative, outrageous" and "below the belt."

Speaking to the Samoan Observer on the condition of anonymity, she said what athletes do during the games is none of the management's business.

She said it appears the management team has isolated gays and lesbians which is "discriminating and downright arrogant."

But Chef de mission, Segi Bee Leung Wai defended the decision yesterday. He disagrees that it is "discriminatory and outrageous."

"We are against the practice of it in Team Samoa," he said. "when we stay together, we do not want a girl and another girl to show that relationship. According to the Bible, it is against the law."

But Mr Leung Wai said the rule does not mean gays or lesbians would be barred form representing Samoa.

"We are not saying not gays are allowed in Team Samoa," he pointed out.

"All we are saying is that we do not tolerate gay behavior within the village between members of our team or any other team.

"It is the same as saying athletes are as saying athletes are not allowed to drink alcohol or take drugs. After the games, these athletes who are gay or lesbian can then do whatever they want.

"But in the village and during the games, no such behaviour of any kind will be tolerated."

Mr Leung Wai said the idea is to prevent "embarrassing Samoa and the family of athletes."

"How would you feel if a member of your family was a fa'afafine and behaving gay towards other athletes within the village?" he asked.

"You wouldn't like it. We do not want embarrassment to fall on the families and onto Samoa."
---end text---


Friday, July 20, 2007

Homosexual Activities

The South Pacific Games (SPG), sort of like a regional olympics, is going to be hosted in Samoa this year. It's a big deal, and most schools (including my own) are closing for a month to provide livinging quarters for the athletes. According to the newspaper headline below, it seems there are concerns about folks getting all gay and stuff.

For the Curious

The headline reads 'Guilty of sodomy' and the text is transcribed below

---start text---
A 54-year-old man has been found guilty of two counts of sodomy in the Supreme Court.

The victim was a nine-year old boy of his village

The court issued name suppression for both the victim and defendant.

The matter was adjourned to 10 July for a probation report and sentencing.

The defendant was remanded on continuing bail.

He was put on trial on 12 May after denying that he had sodomised the boy on 26 and 28 of April last year.

Chief Just Patu Tiava'asu'e Falefatu Sapolu said the court was satisfied with the evidence given by some of the prosecution witnesses as well as by the victim and doctor called to testify.

He said the charges were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The boy testified that he was sexually abused by the defendant on the days mentioned.

He said that he was called over by the defendant to his house, to pull grey hair on his back using a pair of tweezers.

The boy did as the defendant asked. The defendant then ordered the boy to wait for him in the lavatory.

The defendant joined the boy inside the lavatory and sexually abused him, the court heard.

After the first act of sodomy the defendant gave the boy 50 sene [0.19 USD].

The boy said that during the second time the defendant did this to him, he cried because he was in pain.

The boy said that the defendant put his hand over his mouth to silence him.

Dr Aleki Fuimaono testified that when the boy was brought to him by the Police for a checkup, he found evidence of penetration of the boy.
---end text---


Sunday, July 15, 2007


You know things are lively when sodomy isn't the lead story rather it's page three news.