Friday, October 12, 2012


10 weeks 10 weeks 10 weeks!! No internet for 10 weeks!! BUT- I will have my phone :)
Tomorrow we are leaving for the training village!
This village sounds so intense! This village is part of the lower class in Samoa. I think the PC wants us to train here for any worst case scenarios. I will be showering in an open shower... no walls, no privacy. I do not actually shower naked, I have to wear a lavalava. EEK!! I have to wrap a towel around my shoulders (even though I pretty much have a towel around my whole body), until I get to this open shower. I can then remove the towel around my shoulders and only my shoulders and below my knees will show while showering and that is it! We actually watched a trainer shower today... She showered in front of us and we saw nothing. She was clean and it was like magic! I can not believe I have to do that!! How exciting! Luckily just during training in case we have to in our own village, like when the water is just not working that month or my family's pipe broke. 
We will have little electricity and I guess my host family will be dressing me every day. Especially for White Sunday, which is Children's Day. How cute is that! Children's Day! Not Mother's Day or Father's Day but Children's Day!! It is a big event and Holiday here. I am very excited to meet my host family and I know they are excited to meet me.
We will be in the village for ten weeks, at the end of the training I will be sworn in.Next update you get I will be more fluent in Samoan, hopefully integrated into my village and can announce myself as a Peace Corps Volunteer! Until then- Tofa! 

Only ten more to go!

Outside our training room
Week one of training is now complete! Wow wow wow! At the end of every day I think, "that happened this morning? It is only _____day? This day felt SOOOOOOOOO long." Because so much happens in a day! However- now that it is Friday I think, "Wait, we are done with our first week already? This week has gone by SOOOOOOOOOOO fast!" It is like a lot has happened and I can not believe it has been a week already but at the same time.. I question- I have only been here a week? 
If you do not understand from that, I guess you just do not get to understand what I am trying to say.
Because this is my first blog since I landed in Samoa I will try to put down as much information as I can....
When we got off the plane it was just instant paradise  The Samoan "paparazzi" was there (meaning two photographers), we had a beautiful PC sign waiting for us and a lot of the staff greeted us giving us these beautiful flowers that smelt AMAAAAAAAAZING!!!!!!! The flowers were so strong nobody could even tell we hadn't shower in over 30 hours from traveling. 
Our greeting once we landed!
Check it out

Wooden bus!
We rode a wooden bus into town to our hotel and to be honest I barely remember the first day. We were all so tired and exhausted. I do remember the bus ride into town though because everything amazed us. The whole group was excited to see the church (which I now see one every few steps) we were excited to see the cute youngsters running around in their birthday skin and excited to wave to EVERY one that was staring and boy do I mean everyone. We kept reminding each other, "Hey guys, we live in Samoa. Hey guys, see that beach? Ya that beach that is next to the road, we live here." It was a lot of fun and very positive. This whole group seems very positive. But then again- Hello? Who wouldn't feel that way after landing in Samoa!?
 My brain hurts with a lot of information. We got to hang out with Group 83 tonight. It was a lot of fun and a much needed break. They told us horror stories, life meaningful stories and answered A LOT of questions. They were really really great. The put on an amazing performance for us tonight, including introductions, Samoan traditional dances and a fire dancer! Plus great food and who can complain about that?? 

Cell phone

Here is the scope with the cell phone! 
Calling me is free for ME, texting me is free for ME and... well that is it. If you do send me a text, please know that I got it. I got your text, I LOVE your text but I sadly cannot always reply. I will actually rarely reply but please know that I want to hear from you (FRIENDS AND FAMILY), even if it is just a simple "Hello enjoy the day." If you do not have my number- there are people you know that have my number. Facebook is your friend. Also - You can put credit on my phone! It costs me 20 cents to text you and 1 tala (tala means dollar) per minute to call you. Roughly 2 American dollars equals 1 tala. So if you put 10 American dollars on my phone, I can call you and talk for 20 minutes. 
The website is
Hope to hear from you all soon!!!! 

Wild Dogs

Day One- 
The dogs here are not like American dogs. They are treated poorly by lack of food and teased by children. People throw rocks at them and can be abusive towards them. The dogs run the street and I have been warned not to go out at night because that is when the dogs come out. People are out at night, the Samoans are just cautious of me going out at night because I do not know how to handle the dogs yet.
Whenever you are walking on the street a dog can come up to you and start to bark or possibly try to attack. If that happens you yell Haulo! (Spelled wrong but I am still learning!) Haulo means to go away or shoo! The dogs will then stop in its tracks and walk the other way. If you (even just) pretend to pick up a stone, they will go away. Some children walk around with sticks to hit the dog if the dogs start to bark or come at them.
My first day I decided to go running, I was warned I should wait for the sun to come up but that was too late in the day because I had class. So I go running. I ran up and down the street and was too scared to run anywhere else. There were two dogs on my rout and every time I ran past their house they would bark, I would yell and then they'd leave me alone until I came back again. Only once did the dog start to run with me. I do not mean run with my in a cute way, I mean stalk me while I ran next to it. Barking the entire way. I stopped in my tracks, started to pick up a rock and the dog ran away. 
That was my first experience with the wild dogs...
On the way home from our FIRST day of training, there are 13 of us walking. I was in the back of the group chatting about how much fun this is or how tired I am and then 4 or 5 dogs start barking at us and starting to run towards us. Now, most of our group is girls and not all reacted the best way in this situation. There was chaos, running and screaming. I already handled the dogs so I turned around and yelled, "HEY!" (I forgot the Samoan word) it worked. It was actually really funny to see all 5 dogs stop and turn around instantly as if they did nothing wrong, sadly it was too late. From being pushed one of the dogs had bitten my ankle. Blood and instant pain.
I am okay. I was okay later that night. Luckily there is not any rabies in Samoa so all I have to worry about is covering it up with a band-aid and I am not allowed to run for the rest of the week. Now that it is over and done with it is not a big deal and actually funny. 
This was the first day of training! Day number 1! 
My feet are so swollen here! I can't see my ankles! 
It got so much better! 
Exciting day for us PCV. We had the Ava Ceremony, got to know each other as a group a bit better and was introduced to the staff. It was a long day from 8-5 with all the speeches, settling in and the time difference was a killer for some of us.. OH, can not forget to mention my wonderful new scar!! My first Samoan experience story which I will have mentally and also physically with me forever. 

Skipping a day

Time to put it back on the bus!

WOW! It was such an insane event to get all 13 of us to Samoa. I am so grateful we have such a small small group. The other group had 30 of them. 30?
Everyone left for the hotel at 6 pm, the airport is less than 8 minutes away... First, the bus driver took us to the wrong terminal. We are suppose to go to the international terminal and some reason that is not where the driver took us. So after 80% of the bags were unloaded from the bus (there are still 43 Volunteers, with around 100 pounds of luggage each) someone realized we were at the wrong place and all the bags got loaded back on. 
This is what we caused! Line out the door!!
Once we waited in line to check in (busy airport) we finally reach the front of the line and there is a security problem. We were not allowed to check in! We had a one way ticket and airports do not like that without a valid reason. They did not ask for the correct documentation and we did not know what to give them. After a bunch of back and fourths we figured out they needed a letter from the government giving approval and luckily it was given to us before we left the hotel..
Checking bags was also chaotic! We all knew about the 50 pounds per bag and the first bag is free. We all had a second bag but the Government gave us documentation for that so we would not have to pay. I am not sure if all the people at the desks were new or not but it was more confusing than it needed to be and the poor lady who was in charge did NOT seem happy with all the problems. There are 43 Volunteers going through the airport at this time, just that number alone would make a long line. I felt bad if anyone was late or in a hurry.
There is one guy in my group that got stopped at EVERY check point. Poor guy. Brad brought his guitar and his own cash knowing he was going to have to pay for the extra item himself. Some reason there was a problem when we were checking in with the weight, then there was a problem when we went through security. Next we are in New Zeland (where the sign tells you to either go to your Gate or Relax... pretty awesome) and have to go through security again... poor Brad, getting stopped and searched.
We finally made it through!
Once we are in Samoa we have to go through customs... Guess whose luggage was stopped and wanted to be checked... Brad had a good attitude the whole time. I know him bringing the guitar will be worth it but man oh man was it a pain for him! 
First thing I saw in Samoa.
Luckily on the actual plane ride I was able to sleep for over 6 hours. I folded up the best way that I could, took my dryer sheet feeling pillow and went right to sleep.
 Over 24 hours of traveling and we lost a day because of the time zone. 
When it is Saturday morning at 4 am here (which is the time I wrote all my blogs) then it is Friday 8 am in Utah. I am 20 hours ahead of Utah time. 
Once landing and stepping out of that plane feeling the perfect weather and seeing the palm trees, I think the 24 hour travel time was so worth it! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Orientation Day

So much information today! Most of it was common sense but all of it was needed. We went over rules, fears, ice breakers and all the things you would expect from an orientation day. It reminded me of orientation from college. A lot of uncertainty, new people, unanswered questions and every once in while you start to yawn... even though you know this information is important!
Group 84!! (Minus one person) 
I met my 12 new friends and they are all so amazing! Spunky and outgoing, probably why we all get along. This seems like a positive group and extremely supportive which I know we are all going to need sometime during this adventure. I am just lounging around in the hotel lounge waiting until we are ready. I did not think I would ever lounge in a hotel but we are already checked out and my options are limited. So- lounging in the lounge I shall!
The beds are sleep number beds! Sounded like a vacuum when getting pumped up. The hotel is really nice. There it is also a Bikram Fall Training happening here. Bikram does his training class in this hotel twice a year. I went and took a peak in the large Bikram Yoga Room that is used for training, it is the just the hotel's ballroom and they keep the doors closed, crank the heat and pretty much turned it into a sauna... Oh boy it stinks! I researched into the training months ago thinking about getting certified. Crazy how I could have been at this very hotel at the exact same time as now but only on a whole other journey. I could have been lounging in this very lounge talking to Volunteers, telling them, "Oh cool ... I looked into doing that." Instead, I am on the side speaking to the Yogis! I feel I have made the right decision and when I get back... who knows, maybe I will be on the opposite side one day talking to future peace corps volunteers saying, "Oh ya! I did that!"