Thursday, December 16, 2010

Samoa’s Dual Lives

There are two ways of living in Samoa. There is Apia life, and village life. I have  experienced both. Apia life is as close as anyone is going to get to an American life. Apia is Samoa’s capital as well as the only big town on the island of Upolu. When living in Apia people tend to dress more western. Women wear tank tops, shorter dresses, and shorts that show their knees. Men are wearing sunglasses, listening to American music, and wearing the latest clothes. English is also a lot more common in Apia. Anything that a person might need that can’t be made or grown is bought in Apia. The night life is similar to that of the States. There are a couple dance bars, your local lounges for casual drinks, one movie theatre, and a variety of restaraunts. Also, another aspect of Apia is the fact that it is a common port for cruise ships to stop at. Therefore, “pulangi’s” or “white people,” are common to see in  Apia.
Then there is village life. Basically you take Apia, think of the complete opposite and there you have it. Village life comes with waking up to the old fashion clock…roosters. When the roosters start crowing the day has officially started. I keep trying to explain to my host family that 4 a.m. is not the day its still night, but they don’t quite agree. Nevertheless, people wake. Your gender, age, and role in the family tells the person what their duties are everyday. Some men wake up and go straight to work at the plantation. The younger men might tend to the pigs, horses and cows. The women usually look after the house, the younger girls usually do the cooking and cleaning, and the children usually pick up the rubbish around the house and help with miscellaneous chores. No matter what, each person has their role to play and each aspect is vital for daily life and the family to function properly. Villagers are not accustomed to pulangis and are fascinated when they do see one that’s outside of Apia. If you were to take a walk around a village you would mostly see pigs roaming around freely, horses on the side of the road, chickens everywhere, and people working and walking around their fales.  You will probably be asked about 20 different times where you are going and about 100 hellos and goodbyes. Most people who live in the rural villages get their food from their plantation, or trees (breadfruit, coconuts, bananas, mangos etc.) They get their eggs from their chickens and most times the chickens will become their dinner. Women dress very modestly while living in the village; nothing past the knees, no tank tops, and no midriff showing. Its very common for people to shower outside or even bathe in the ocean. The word ta’ele means to shower, bath and swim in the ocean because essentially it’s all the same to the Samoan people. Sunday is a very important day in the village. Life stops during this day. No working, no cleaning, no nothing. Sunday is meant for church, prayer, eating, and sleeping. Some Samoans do each of these things twice over. There is no night life in the village except for…Bingo. Yes, Bingo it’s a huge hit here in Samoa and is taken very seriously. Some Peace Corps volunteers have gone to practice their numbers in Samoan and said it was very tense and stressful because they go so fast and people get frustrated if you go to slow.  Like I said, it is taken very seriously. I haven’t gone yet, but I’m sure I will go at some point. So basically after experiencing both aspects of Samoan life I have likes and dislikes to each. I myself live in a rural village and will live there for the next two years. But when I need to get away, relax whatever Apia is only a bus ride away. ( a perk with living on an island… you can only go so far) Whichever Samoan life I’m in at the time, one thing is for sure my life now, is nothing like my life back home.

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