Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Samoan Xmas Redux

Yes, I've been here long enough for the holidays to repeat themselves.
Though Markus was off-island there was plenty of activities to keep me busy.

The now traditional Christmas Eve Gift Exchange at Naomi and Aaron's. I tried hard to get me the ukulele or the American Samoa flag (a few of this years "hot" items). Sadly, I came away empty handed after a cut throat round of ro0-sham-bo. As a wonderful surprise Dr. Dave came through for me and gave me my very own ukulele!

A few highlights:

Aaron, sporting his awesome Xmas shirt getting just what he asked for:

The much sought after ukulele
Einstein getting into the fun with Ben:
Kelly gets a shoot a Parrot game:

Matt super stoked on his ping pong equipment.

Lisa and the much sought after American Samoa flag.

Maria super excited by her awesome tie.
Naomi gets a calus cutter from Ned. Awesome.Ned gets this hat as Karmic payback.

View from Naomi and Aaron's bungalow:View from Brian and Nadia's house on Christmas day, where we had a nice feast.
And every Xmas post should end with a cute baby picture (Ona ready for walk):

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This week ushered in another blow to Samoan health and culture.

ANOTHER McDonald's franchise was opened in American Samoa.

Here are some statistics:

Population: @ 65,000

Health: WHO (2004)
75% Obesity Rate
47.3% Diabetic rate in 25-64 yr olds

Fastfood Establishments: 6
McDonalds (2)
Carl's Jr.
Pizza Hut

Amount of money McDonalds Corporation donates to the health care system of American Samoa: $0

So what does a population like the above need? Well.....ANOTHER fastfood establishment, of course!!!!

Can you all put your hands together for the McCastle which celebrated its Grand Opening last Friday?

Because one story is just not big enough in American Samoa!

Bigger is ALWAYS better. And a McCafe!

Allegiance to what?

The line for obesity, clogged arteries and diabetes.

And then there's the issue of traffic on our one road island...
This guy was directing traffic.
I wasn't sure if he volunteered for the job or was hired by McDonalds.

Lunch crew stuck in traffic.
I'm assuming they think it's AWESOME!

And as an attempt at undercover reporting ....ok it's really the drive through of shame.
Damn McDonalds for being soooo convenient on a Friday when you are tired and late to attend the island's finest in live entertainment.
And those fries are soooooo good.

To experience this yourself:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Julia put on the best Pirate Party ever for Halloween!
Here are a few highlights!

Julia in her HOMEMADE costume-no kidding from SCRATCH.
And she did one for her husband and two sons as well. Super duper.
Samoan Pirate a la Johnny Depp

Markus' Wait Wait co opted Halloween idea with his own Pedro flair.

Lisa in her "concept" costume Doug's Dirty Apartment.
For more on concept costumes (Markus' is one too) check out What White People Like have to say about it.

Barbara (as Peter Pan) with the coolest guest, "Bat Boy", an adolescent bat.

The Clerks in their random Tropic PJs that were adamantly NOT costumes.
They had this done for real.

Carol walking like an Egyptian.

Naomi and her friend?

Fred, Pebbles and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Chris who is always a pirate but came as a punk rocker and still looked like a pirate, with bat boy on his head.Aaron as himself! I mean the weight liftin' dude.

Me and Helen Elizabeth at her first party.
She's clearly a party animal!
She was just born the weekend before, delivered by yours truly.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Few of My Favorite Things...

I've been meaning to start a "favorite things" about Samoa post. As I get closer to leaving more things are endearing me to Samoa. Here are a few from today. There are sure to be more in the future.

Ad in Samoa News Classifieds:

(Panax). Will pay $30 & $10 to who finds person to sell me tree. Send postcard/e-mail to:, PO Box 7422, PagoPago, AS 96799.

And this is how my Bank tries to find me:
I usually just tell people, up the road across from the giant Banyon tree, past the Korea house, but apparently both my general vicinity and PO Box seems to be appropriate for financial correspondence by my bank. You never appreciated street addresses more than when you are trying to give directions without them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

O Beautiful Day!

Polling Fale in Pago-This not an official government building.

Close Up Fale Polling Place (are those ballot boxes marked?)

Election Day in American Samoa was surreal. There has been a huge gubernatorial race, this person is basically the president here.

I think somebody called these Faafetai (thank you) tents-Vote and get a plate lunch that's been sitting around since yesterday! A little food poisoning with your democracy? Yes, thank you!

The governor has a lot of power over the people in charge of the different agencies on the island so even if one might take issue with the incumbent, job security might be your motivation on election day.
Interesting places to put up campaign propaganda.

There is a law on the books that legally Samoan's get two hours off in the day to vote. This didn't effect my work day too much but I'm curious how other departments faired.

Also there is no alcohol sold on election day until after the polls close at 6pm. By 6:30 pm we had heard on the raido that the first brawl had broken out at a polling place. That's some fast drinkin!

For some unknown reason the signs require lava-lavas.
Perhaps the exposed legs of the signs are considered unseemly.

Many villages here vote as a whole-though ballots are cast individually. Today, American Samoa did not awake to a new governor or a reelected governor. No candidates acheived the 50% plus one,popular vote. So a run off between the top contendors will take place Nov 18. This gives me high hopes that the monday before Veteran's day will be declared a holiday by da governor...

This house (I suspect they were paid by the candidates to fund their home renovations) supported ALL the gubernatorial candidates.

I thought this was an interesting quote from Samoa News, "The governor told supporters and committee members not to disrespect voters they suspect were supposed to vote for them but didn't. He said to always show a happy face and respect"

Yesterday was an anxious day for me. I had strong hope that Obama was our man, but having been burned four years ago-going to bed thinking the Democrats had won and awaking to a stolen election in the morning...I was not counting my chickens.
Obama is President!

We watched the final results coming through at the yacht club (we don't have cable and the only real-time results were on CNN). At 5pm the results were in! And we welcomed in a new era in America-while in American Samoa! Obama is our new President and there is new hope for our country. I think I'm actually feeling patriotic today! What a fabulous birthday present.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


For the last week and a half I have been in a weakened condition.

One of my life long nemesis has been poison oak. Growing up in poison oak free Siskiyou County I didn't encounter this dire enemy until I went to college in Santa Cruz.
(So harmless looking...yet so deadly...ok, not deadly, but I want to be dead (ly))

I had no idea what had happened to me the first time I got the stuff-it vanquished me immediately . I continued to loose the fight with this foe through out my four years in the poison oak friendly Santa Cruz environment. The week before finals my last year of college I swear I got it from dust on the trail in Big Sur, evil and wily that poison oak.
(Scientific explanation of why I want to rip my flesh off.)

I stormed into the Student Health Center demanding, yes, DEMANDING, prednisone. The poor medical Resident had no recourse. He fled the exam room for his preceptor (in those days to get steroids you had to twist people's arms) but he returned, first waving a white presription paper into the room as a sign of surrender before daring to enter the room. I won that round with poison oak and had the added benefit of not needing much sleep and having a lot of extra energy for finals week. Though I do remember eating my body weight that week as well. Steroids, they'll do that to you.

(Tecnu-my old friend)

I would continue to encounter ol' P.O. occasionally for years until moving here. Aaaha! At long, long last a poison oak free environment! A place of lush, safe folliage, and tropical fruit.
(Good mango)
It is mango season and lucky us our friends have a mango tree. Last Monday I decided I'd indulge myself and picked a bag full of mangoes. As I pulled them off the tree, sweet smelling mango sap oozed from the stem. MMMMMM, I inhaled deeply. Lovely mangoes. I've eaten mangoes and mango flavored everything my whole life.
(Bad mango)
I was not prepared for what was to come. Two days later my face was red, two days after that my face and eyes were nearly swollen shut. And then my arms and legs-blistering and redness. WHAT was happening? This looks like poison oak! How can this be! A little internet research and low and behold what did I discover? Mango sap and peel contain the exact same chemical as poison oak. If you react to the sap that doesn't necessarily mean you have a food allergy to mango, which is very good news, but I'm going to wait until I'm stateside to have an allergy test before I risk it. Apparently mango is very rarely a primary sensitizer, but if you've had a reaction to poison oak, ivy or sumac beware the mango tree! For good reading while recovering from your a case of mango contact dermatitis, check out this page. Misery loves company (and case studies).