The Mark of the Jandal

Monday, December 26, 2005

Three weeks in the village: Part 1

The week before we returned to the village I had come back to Apia from a visit with a current volunteer in Savai'i. To get from his place to our hotel we first had to take a two hour bus ride, followed by a couple hours on the ferry, and finally another one hour on the bus. His host sister was riding into Apia also, and when we got on the bus she gave me a cup of noodles. I got up around 5 and skipped breakfast, so I was hungery. I knew it would be a while until I could eat, and I didn't want to be rude to a family member of another volunteer --- I ate the noodles. I would spend the next week pissing from my ass.=20

That night everything flowed from my body like water from a hose. We returned to the village the following Saturday for our final three week stay. The following Sunday I went to church and had To'ana'i. On Sundays there is a large meal after church called To'ana'i. Just before sunrise, around five, people will start building an umu. Volcanic rocks are placed on top of and under burning coconut husks until the rocks become red hot. At this point food is placed on a bed of rocks and then covered by the remaining rocks. This pile of food and heated stones are then covered with large banana leaves. The food is simultaneously cooked and smoked. They use this to cook everything: taro, breadfruit, palusami, pork, fish, etc. During church someone will stay home and keep an eye on the umu. After eating the To'ana'i meal, people will pass out for a couple hours like on Thanksgiving.

For this week we were to have an emergency action plan drill on Tuesday followed by a fishing expedition for the fornicating pololo worm. We were also to have food day on Thursday where we cook for the village. During the day on Tuesday we had language classes as usual. That night we went home and had dinner. In Samoa there are four major types of emergency which can effect us: tsunamis, flash floods, earth quakes, and cyclones (hurricanes). If you can see a tsunami, your chances are pretty bad. Flash floods and earthquakes are also events which have little worning. So for simulation purposes, the Peace Corps will normally have a mock storm. Sometime in the evening, the Peace Corps van pulled out and Candice stepped out. It turns out she was the person in charge of our training village. She was supposed to contact everyone and make sure they were aware of a fictious tropical depression. I went to the fale where my family was sitting, and I tried to explain in my broken Samoan that we were playing a game. I told them that some Peace Corps in Africa have to worry about things like military coups. I then had to explain what a coup was. I told them to pretend that the prices of vailima (the local beer) were raised. As a result the untitled men had stormed the parliament and were beheading government officials in protest --- hords of people with machetes are the closest thing Samoa has to a military. Everyone thought this was funny.=20

So when Candice returned, everyone looked at me and erupted into laughter. I was informed that the theoretical tropical depression was picking up speed and moving closer to Savai'i. When this happens I'm supposed to remain at my site and wait for further instructions. She later returned to another round of laughter and I was told that the mythical storm was now a cyclone and that we were moving to our regional consolodation point. My family waved good bye to me, and I drove away leaving them to fend for themselves while the make-believe downpour approached. This drill was pretty good. They managed to contact everyone on both islands within five hours. If things get pretty bad they will either evacuate us from Samoa or consolodate everyone in one of the inland hotels.

After the emergency action plan drill we left to go pololo hunting. This is accomplished by wading out into the ocean between the reef and the beach with a net, flashlight, bucket, and a desire to capture as many copulating worms as possible. My hostmother made me the net and seemed genuinly excited that I was going. While I think the worms taste pretty foul, I wanted to get as many for the family as possible since they seem to like them. Most of the evening consisted of sitting around on the beach and chatting. The colonic flows were still raging strong inside of me. I had eaten dinner, and I was starting to feel a surge coming. I found a bathroom just in time, and I made the mistake of looking in the toilet before I used it. The pile of writhing maggots made the feeling inside my stomach that much worse. At this point it was either in the toilet or my pants, so I christened this toilet the third worst toilet I had ever used. This should provide you with an idea of how bad some of the toilets I've used in the past really were. I would have to defecate twice more that evening. However I would elect to skip the toilet and walk thrity feet or so up the road --- I was getting quite good at this.

Feeling empty I went back to the beach and waited for the hunt to begin. Around three a couple Samoans started heading for the reef. Shortly after that, several people started to follow. I teamed up with brian to follow the hurd. Each of us held a net, and I took a bucket while he took Josh's flashlight. The water was shallow and cool. I was quickly learning how sharp coral could be. We made it about half way to the reef when several people decided it was far enough. We were all scooping through the water trying to catch what we could. Eventually I found a worm-like thing in the water. I asked one of our trainers and these were the worms we were looking for. Brian and I both had a new found enthusiasm. We scooped like we had broken into an ice cream shop and had only a few minutes to eat before we were giong to be caught. Around sunrise we retreated to the sand and our vehicles. When I got home I gave my bucket to my mom. She looked inside and laughed; I stayed up all night, defecated in the third worst toilet of my life, fought a loosing battle with the coral, and I managed to bring home six worms --- it takes a thousand or so to make up enough for someone to eat. I took a shower, told my host grandmother good night in Samoan --- she cackled --- a I took a nap before school started.


  • OMG this is the funniest story!

    By Blogger Lotopa, at 5:43 PM  

  • You are the most grossiest pisikoa I have read in these blogs, but funny, you fit right there in Samoa!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 PM  

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