Saturday, we had our second language assessment in the morning, where we went around individually to all the trainers and did a role play demonstrating our ability to Find a Bus, Shop at a Store and Greet and Take Leave in Samoan. It was only irritating because it was in the morning on a Saturday, the only day we can sleep in usually and my host parents had invited me to come with them to Apia and I had to say “no”.
Well after that charade was over, Alli and I went to the mini store in Manunu and bought a “lolly chain”, I’m not sure what it’s really called, but it’s a necklace that's made of either plastic wrap or thin mesh with goodies wrapped inside and sectioned off by colorful ribbons. One of these necklaces, to my amazement, had two bags of Grandma’s cookies in them. Chocolate chip and Double chocolate, you have got to be kidding me. So we bought and consumed them with much pleasure at Kaeleni’s house, where Alli borrowed a skirt and I borrowed some mascara. Kaeleni is pretty much the only one in our group of 16 girls who has preserved some semblance of girly-ness. She still wears makeup and paints her nails and wears cute clothes, even when the rest of us have given up on shaving, let alone make up, bless her. Since we were going to Apia later that day to a Thanksgiving party at the house of an Embassy official, we were getting a little excited about the dress up potential of the occasion and busted out the mascara and knee length skirts (oh, scandal!).
When I was cajoling Kaelini’s mom into making me a skirt with an elastic waist band, instead of the standard wrap around, tie and pray it doesn’t fall off when you stride too wide, I got a phone call from a really long number, it was Aya from Japan!! What an amazing surprise!! I had mailed her a couple things and called her once and left a message from Apia and hadn’t heard from her so the correspondence was expected, but not in call-form! No Japanese would come to me, just a bunch of “Manaias” and “O a o mea nai fais” I really need to make it a point to hang around some JAIKA volunteers and practice while I’m here, or I’m going to irretrievably lose the ability to speak the language.
When the bus reached Apia, we were told we would have an hour to shop at the market before having to get to the party. But a few of us turned up to the bus late, we had to make a stop at the hotel for some of us to pick up things from storage and with all of us having to withdraw money from the one working ATM, by the time we got to the market, we only had 20 minutes. Alli was able to buy the candy, cookies and brownies for Sana’s birthday, which we had all pitched in for. I found a volleyball, which I wanted to buy for my host brothers, miraculously in the store next door for only nine tala.
The Embassy worker’s house was incredible. Beautifully western and Martha Stewart in every way, there were high ceilings, framed pictures and paintings, matching bed sets, and furniture, comfortable couches, a full kitchen with spotless surfaces and all the appliances and best of all, 3 tables and a kitchen counter stacked with traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, casseroles, mac and cheese, pies, rolls, beans, chips, dip. There was beer and wine and a football game coming in loud and clear and in color on the TV in the living room. Dan probably really cried at some point during the evening from overwhelming happiness. We stuffed ourselves, drank and swam or just kicked our legs in the huge swimming pool out back while enjoying the view of the ocean and all the green coconut trees and mountains surrounding it.
We filled the bus and rubbed our satisfied bellies all the way back to Manunu. Only 364 more days until the next Thanksgiving feast at the Embassy.