e fofo le alamea le alamea — johannah fields in American Samoa
Posted by Nolan Sutker in American Samoa 14 Mar 2018
“The cure for alamea is alamea.”
Cultural transition is always one of my favorite parts of travel. The new sights, smells, people, climate… I love having the opportunity to see it all. The other side of that same coin is that it is also very noticiably draining. Here in American Samoa with the welcoming, boisterous people, loud (and sometimes aggressive) dogs and chickens, the tropical climate, and just the island way of life as a whole, there are many, multi-layered elements that add to the daily excitement. As a palagi (white person), it is also very overwhelming at times. It is comforting to have a community of people here in the WorldTeach fam that are simultaneously experiencing the same transition. Also, following with tradition that is central to the fa’asamoa (Samoan way of life), everyone loves helping each other out. It is typical to catch a ride anywhere at any hour of the day (and sometimes night) from someone you’ve never met and it’s completely normal (and safe, Mom) to hop in the back of a pickup truck without a formal introduction. “No man is an island,” and the cure for ailments in our community can usually be found right here in front of us, whether that’s going in together on a $10 bag of Trader Joe’s trail mix for just a taste of home or going out and playing with the kids who live next door. I am enjoying getting to take things one day at a time, I am LOVING this experience and peek into a new way of life. I know I’ve only been here 2 weeks, but I am well on my way to falling in love with American Samoa.
A lot has happened this week (and is still happening), but in the spirit of sticking to something you start, this blog post is dedicated to my 4 followers. I’ll try to keep the info important and let the pictures do the talking.
Our first hike here in American Samoa was to the second cannon on Blunt’s Point, complete with historical WWII cannons and all. It was a lovely morning hike, and we were able to do some much needed breathing and team building outside of the walls of our home at Nuu’uli VoTech High School. (*Side note, please bear with my picture taking skills. For having this GoPro for 3 years now, I really should have the angles down by now but obviously don’t. Sars, Gma.)
Yes, thank you for noticing, my hair IS curly out control these days. The funny thing about living on an island in the middle of the ocean is just that: you are on a small land mass, surrounded by miles and miles of water. Dry is a relative term here, and it’s as if the infinite expanse of ocean you’re engulfed by needs assistance from all humidity and the seemingly daily rain showers. Not to mention it’s “winter” here, and yet a day without sweating from most of the pores in your body is like a day without breath: impossible. I can’t say I hate it, though. As long as I get to see the sun at some point in the day, I’m gucci. And there’s been plenty of that to go around. ☺☀🌴
Speaking of sunshine, I was able to catch my first island sunrise and get out to my first outer island this weekend! Marcela, my Polish bestie, and I woke up at 4:45 to the sound of “an insane amount of cock-a-doodle-doo’s.” Sweetheart, or Sweekie, our Samoan bestie, picked us up not long after and we began the hour drive north passed the tuna canneries to the boat dock to Aunu’u. Not long after we arrived the sun came up, and we lamented not stopping for McDonald’s breakfast while talking and laughing about college and religion. Once all Sweekie’s co-workers showed up (she works for the Dept. of Health and they were heading over to do a medical clinic) we hopped on the little boat with wooden benches for seats and made our way over the expanse of the deepest blue.
The island of Aunu’u is a $1 boat ride from Tutuila, the main island where we live, and we have 3 WorldTeach friends placed out there this year. Marcela and I “helped” Sweek set up (ate the free snacks and read the pamphlets about Zika prevention), and then went exploring. Unfortunately our friends weren’t home (or didn’t hear us knocking, it was 7 AM), so we walked around the beach and tried to take artsy pics. This is the best I could come up with:
This week we’ve finished up orientation and moved out of the high school! (That’s a whole other post, though.) Our last day of Samoan lessons included cultural exposure with how to weave with coconut fronds, how to husk a coconut, and how to do some traditional Samoan dancing and cooking. The dancing and cooking skills are yet to be explored (if you don’t count ordering pizza and going out dancing at a “club” called the Bowling Alley… Again, another post for another time).
So as you can see things are going pretty great here, and I’m hoping to get another post up before the week’s out! (That all depends on if we can get wifi at our house anytime soon, and orientation is now over and school starts next week!) I have an address, too! Holla if you wanna send some love down to the Pacific, flat rate shipping is just the same as in the US! I will be updating my wish list and letting you in on the skinny about my new house and housemates, school, and classroom, and of course all the fun things that are coming my way! If you read all the way through, I probably love you! Hope to talk with each of you soon! Talofa lava! 💙