Snapshots from Samoa

This is the place where you'll find snapshots of my life as a peace corps in Samoa.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Once a scientist...

You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been doing this past week… I almost feel like I haven’t left the states. Why? Well scientific meetings are the same all over the world. I’ve been attending a technical meeting on cetaceans in the pacific islands! It’s been a great introduction to the issues going on in the region in terms of cetaceans and conservation. Going to the meeting is rather timely since the Ministry of Natural Resources, the department I will be working for while I’m here, is going to start a more directed approach to managing cetaceans. The dept. already does an annual sea turtle survey and they want to start an annual whale survey… how excited am I? The one thing that is definitely different about the meeting are the tea brakes. The tea is awesome… custard tarts, freshly baked cookies, chicken salad sandwiches, papaya, orange, coconut… we even had pizza for afternoon tea today. Needless to say I’m expanding. Thankfully the meeting ends tomorrow. I must make sure to exercise every day from now on… or something.

What else has been going on? Let me update you on the dreaded “Drop Off”. The journey started at a ridiculous hr of the morning, the sun was not up when we left. After driving all over the island at 7am Setu stops the van in front of an abandoned house. Tim and I are told to get out. “See you back at the village!” And the van drives off. Ok… I’m in a foreign country left in the middle of nowhere as far as I know… nothing to do besides start walking. A good 10 minutes later we find ourselves in a village and it just so happens that the first people we meet are waiting for the bus into Apia. [Apia is kind of like Rome… all roads lead to it. From there you can easily get wherever else you want to go] The bus takes it sweet time coming and shortly into our journey Tim and I find out why. Engine trouble. Six guys and the bus driver end up standing around staring at the engine. Time to try another method of transportation… Hitchhiking! We flag down a van and jump in the back along with 5 kids on their way to school. We were in Apia by 5 to 9. The rest of the day was easy plenty of internet and BBQ chicken pizza. I can’t believe I was worried.

Other exciting news: I’ve started dancing!!! Two dancers from Samoa’s national dance team came out a couple of days to teach us siva Samoa (Samoan dance). One of the women is the niece of the head of PC training, HP. I love family connections. The dance we’re doing like most all female dances in Samoa is slow, and soft. Hands float as your body sways slightly to the music. A vision of beauty and grace… or at least that’s what it looks like till you get 8 palangi’s (white people/ westerners) dancing. Given 2 of us are dancers but I don’t even want to know what ran through the Samoans mind when they first saw us dance. After a “bit” of late night practice the PC group doesn’t look half bad.

More on the dancing front: last Friday the women in our village organized a tausala. The pastor described it as a dance-a-thon, which I kind of agree with. Every family gets their name called for a song. When your song is called you have the floor. Family dances while the audience cheers and gets up to put money in a bowl that’s in the center of the floor. To make things interesting you can also put money on people… behind their ear, on top of their head or down their shirts. I of course was the best PC dancer of the bunch… being modest of course.

Most of my days are still filled with language classes and life and work sessions. The language is coming along slowly, but it’s coming. All in all I am blessed and life is wonderful.

Next update I’ll try to post pictures. Till then…



  • At 1:54 PM, Blogger Honey B. Well said…

    just tell me when i can come and visit! i'm off to portugal on the 19th for ten days! i'm making my way around the world-last stop, samoa!

  • At 1:48 AM, Anonymous Summer said…

    Wow it sounds like your having fun Jame'!! How lucky are you to find dancing?? Dancing and turtles... you are set for the next two years.

  • At 4:51 AM, Blogger Jayangel said…

    She actually POSTED!!! WOW Jame, i'm soo happy to be reading what's going on with you. Of COURSE you found dancing, i had no doubt you were going to find something to keep you sane their. Can't wait to hear more stories. Miss you!

    LYLAS, Jamie

  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger Mike Sheppard said…

    I just came across your journal about your adventures in Samoa. I added a link to your page to a database I collected of Peace Corps Journals and blogs:

    Worldwide PC Blog Directory:

    1. Contains over 1,500 journals and blogs from Peace Corps Volunteers serving around the world.
    2. Each country has its own detailed page, which is easily accessible with a possible slow Internet connection within the field.
    3. The map for every country becomes interactive, via Google, once clicked on.
    4. Contact information for every Peace Corps staff member worldwide.
    5. Official rules and regulations for current PCV online Journals and blogs. Those rules were acquired from Peace Corps Headquarters using the Freedom of Information Act.
    6. Links to Graduate School Programs affiliated with Peace Corps, along with RPCVs Regional Associations.

    There is also an e-mail link on every page. If you want to add a journal, spotted a dead link, or have a comment.

    Thanks for volunteering with the Peace Corps!

    -Mike Sheppard
    RPCV / The Gambia


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