“English Day” marked the end of Term One and the beginning of Group 82’s first in country vacation time! Three weeks without school obligations! Too bad two of the three weeks we were scheduled to be in EST (Early Service Training) in Apia. That’s right, after all the stress of the first term of teaching we had to fill that familiar old Pacifika Inn meeting room and listen to hours of droning on about the health program that our group is embarking on come September.
You’ll hear all about that in the September newsletter, so I won’t bore you with it now, instead I’ll tell you about the magic and tranquility that is “the river fales”. A small group of 11 Savaii and Upolu volunteers got together and stayed at these charming fales for a weekend.
The stay included a 3 hour waterfall hike through the jungle in and along the river. During this tour, we saw eight gorgeous waterfalls, and not only saw them…we rock climbed over them, jumped off them, crossed over them holding hands and swam in the pools beneath them. Our Samoan guide was there every step showing us where to put our feet and grab hold as we slowly dragged our limbs up the craggy rocks alongside the rushing falls. Our poor Emilie, who fell backwards and smacked her gourd, sustained the only head injury during the trip. She was a trooper and made it through the rest of the hike though.
The Avanoa Tutusa (a non-profit Peace Corps run organization who organize “Equal Opportunity” events) held a fund-raiser dance during our EST. The taupou (a traditional maiden who dances covered in coconut oil, wrapped in a fine mat, with a bedazzled and mirrored headdress) dance was one of the performances in the program The fun of it was trying to get a hold of the taupou fine mat and headdress, which we discovered at the last moment that Peace Corps had misplaced.
We all went different directions making phone calls to and visiting establishments and people that might have this outfit and who might let us borrow it for a night, with no luck. I decided to hit the taxi stand across the street and ask if they knew someone. First, they made me dance the taupou dance on the taxi lot while they clapped and ‘chu-hoo’ed. Then one guy ushered me to his cab and took me to his parent’s home down the road. After a brief explanation while he grabbed a handful of chips from the kitchen, his elderly mother shuffled near me. She bent over a wooden chest, opened it, and gently lifted out their family headdress and fine mat and handed it over, smiling wide and wrinkled, just an hour before the event.