Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Palagi Beach

There is a magical place on the island that is only arrived at after a long drive and a long hike. Since only palagi's are willing to do this for sand and surf it is rightly called Palagi Beach. Markus had never been so we went on his last weekend on the Island.

Einstein sunbathing.

Find the treacherous trail to the left of this driveway-it's where the little palm tree is there. Follow the trail and the beach all the way to an amazing beach with great views and a small area that's good for soaking (snorkeling is not really an option here).

Get LOST Already Party

Barbara who's been here for three years left on Sunday for adventures unknown. Read her blog about her transition off-island. Since I leave this upcoming Sunday we had a shared goodbye party.

Again, Matt opened up his house to the festivities including filling up the pool!! Good thing he had an umbrella or he and Kayla could have gotten wet!

The theme was LOST and a few brave souls dressed up and there was lots of Dharma Initiative brand food. (Please ignore the fact I spelled Initiative wrong on all the labels!) Note the cool "The Rock" station logo that Paul Brown made for me.

And, of course, Fish Biscuits from the Polar Bear cage episode. They tasted horrible, just like you would imagine the ones sitting in the cage all those years would have. I need to find a new gingerbread recipe.

I made a special Crash Landing Cake (that's supposed to be Tutuilla there).

Kim and Mike as Kate and Locke

Lisa as Pregnant Claire admiring the LOST t-shirts

Ned sporting the back of the LOST tshirt.

Kelly sporting the front.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Getting LOST

I've been struggling with some angst this past month about leaving the island. I know, I know. "What about the count down? What about the complaints?" I think this happens to a lot of us who come here hoping for paradise, looking for change, needing some sun. We go through culture shock, we find things we like/love about the place, we adjust, and then we get antsy, thinking it's perhaps time for something different.

But what are we looking for? Often what was going on back "home" wasn't so great that's why we are here in the first place. So what are we running back to? Grocery stores and shopping? We all know, living in a consumer culture, that there will never be "enough". As soon as you have what you've been waiting to consume for two long years then you'll be looking for something better or different. Newer. Better. Bigger.

We know that inefficiency and corruption is rampant here. Efficiency is nice and so is customer service. But remember there are long waits in the states and stupid people everywhere. Is sitting in rush hour traffic for 1 to 2 hours better than having a blank stare when you need something done? I think I'd rather deal with the stare.

We don't make much compared to salaries back home, but you won't spend even a fraction of what you do in the states. You aren't bombarded with crap that you think you need. Your clothes are secondary, your car acceptable if you gets you from point A to point B, your house fantastic if it's not infested with termites or mold. We've learned to live within our means, unlike many unfortunate souls back home. And hey! We have a job.

Ok, so job satisfaction can be the "biggie" here. People get "in trouble" by superiors for "just doing their job" because it might in some unknown/unforeseen way be upsetting to the Samoan culture. Change is nearly impossible and when it does happen it's at a snail's pace. Your boss can be completely ignorant and never at work. You have to learn to pat yourself on your back and be happy if you are making small changes in people's everyday lives. This is not a big picture place. Living for today is really the motto. Future orientation is slow in developing here.

Yeah, the internet sucks. But really, should you be spending so much time on the internet? Yeah, the cable is delayed by two weeks and the commercials irrelevant (christmas sales after christmas). Will the world fall apart if you watch LOST two weeks late or when it comes out on DVD?

The schools are awful I must admit. If I had kids this would be one of the greatest challenges. When teachers drop curriculum because the "students won't read the book" (speaking of High School kids) instead of, oh, I don't know....flunking them, then there is a real problem here.

Health care is an issue, esp if you want any specialty services. However, there are more and more US trained physicians and health care providers. At $10 a visit, $10 a RX and many services offered free through Fed Grants, you can appreciate what we DO have. AND many, many, far too many, people in the states are without any type of health insurance. That $10 doctor's visit, is $150-200 out of pocket. That RX? Try $50-100+

I think I've learned a lot about slowing down that I NEVER would have been able to learn back home. It's impossible. I've also learned a lot about what I don't want back in my life when we get back. I wish we were going on to some new adventure, but there are a few practical reasons why we need to go back, at least for the time being.

Most people who leave Samoa, remember it longingly afterwards. Some say it was like a dream. They won't come back because we all leave for some very good reasons (because some people do stay for very long periods verging on "forever"-of course, we call these people "Tropo" ;), As the time nears to leave I think it's impossible to wonder if this is the right move and what are you gaining/loosing. I had very little hesitation on leaving and much more on returning.

I'm hoping this isn't like some episode of LOST where we spend two years connecting with people, trying to survive and figuring out life, the universe, and everything; all while desperately trying to escape at the same time. Then when we finally are "free" and back in the "real world" we are not quite sure what the big rush was to leave. And may just have to return to save our friends we left behind on the island. ;)

Yet another farewell BBQ

A tradition on-island is to see your friends off at the airport when they are making their final departure. The flight leaves late and it's always a school night, Sunday and Thursday (thanks Hawaiian!), so this takes commitment and love (esp from us as we live on the opposite side of the island). I have done this a few times but I'm rather choosy with my airport goodbyes.

Aaron and Naomi who fell from the sky around the same time I did were leaving this past Thursday and I really wanted to see them off at the airport. Matt opened his house for a BBQ with the plan to "do the airport" afterward. Unfortunately, there was something wrong with the plane (I've yet to find out what) and the flight was delayed until the next morning. Having to work, there was no way to make it all the way out there the next morning. I was convinced that this was some crazy plot development out of LOST where Naomi and Aaron wouldn't be able to make it off the island. And eventually, by extension neither would we. Which leads me to my next blog entry....Getting Lost. (Naomi and Aaron and there kitty did make it off the island afterall).

Aaron decided he wanted to do politician handshake series with everyone.

Palagi Olympics 2009-We are the champions!

This month will see a lot of palagi losses. As you know, Markus and I are heading back to Portland, Aaron (of the AG's office) and Naomi (librarian extraordinaire) and Barbara (EPA) will all be gone by the end of this month.

We had some farewell festivities to commemorate. Lisa and Nate organized a great Palagi Olympics/Sloshball game and lots of people showed up for the fun. Markus and I were sloshball captains and, of course, my team won. Which is good because I almost never keep score on these games and have to depend on the more competitive on the league to know if we are up or down. I believe in delegation. Thanks Doug and Amity. I was on Naomi's team for Palagi Olympics and we came out the overall winners on that one, as well. It's nice to go out on top! Afterward we ate well at Samoan Steve's house.
Naomi up to bat (no Naomi that's not how you play sloshball!)

Steve after astronaut game.

Gwen & I go down on the three legged race.

Markus up to bat.

Team Matt & Team Naomi

Erick on his way to victory!

Lisa going for the gold.

Einstein thinking Aaron's hit was for him.