It was just another normal day here in American Samoa, but as I was telling Michael about my day at dinner time, I realised that it was far from normal by American/British standards, so thought I’d fill you in while giving you some updates at the same time. In no particular order, these are six of the things that happened to me today and how I feel about them.
1. At 6.45am our phone rang. It was our cleaning lady calling. I think I already told you about her. She is a lovely lady from Tonga, but her husband is here illegally and cannot work. Right now I think that our income is all that she has. I don’t pay her much (but it’s more than I make per hour at the school). She comes one morning a week for 4 hours, and if I said she did a great job, I’d really be exaggerating. It’s been a little frustrating because to our standards, we have to go back and redo a little of what we ask her to do, but at least she’s doing some of the hard stuff, and we mostly feel like we’re helping them out. The biggest bonus is that she is trustworthy. I’m at work when she comes, so I leave the door open and then she locks it when she leaves. Anyway, she called early this morning saying she wasn’t feeling well, and would it be ok if her husband came with her to scrub the floors. I said that was fine, but that if she wanted to come another day when she was feeling better, that would be fine too, it was up to her. She told me that their water had been cut off because they couldn’t pay the bill, and she really needed to come today to get the money. How awful. I feel so bad. They have two little children. Life is hard enough anyway, but to not having running water on top of that. Anyway, I left the money for her and came back to a half clean floor, but what can you do? Count your blessings I guess.
2. My 20 steps of showering is a complete failure. I’m finding it hard not to get frustrated, but I know it’s not his fault. I just wish I knew something I could do about it, other than having to get in the shower with him and talk him through it every day. I asked him to shower about 15 minutes before dinner would be ready. I went to work on dinner and come back five minutes later to find him standing naked in the bathroom staring at the wall. I get him in, go back to the dinner, and when I come back find that he has forgotten to wash, and has to come out for dinner as stinky as he was when he went in. I tried again before bed, and the same thing happened. He just stands in there, his mind everywhere except for the steps of showering! Does anyone have any advice for me?
3. Drove home from school this afternoon with all the kids in the car. It is a common thing for us to arrive home and see lots of local kids playing in our front lawn area or hanging around our gates. However, we didn’t expect to see what we saw today. Do you remember the one dolla’ boy? (I was a failure with him too. He continues to beg for a dollar, and once came into our house without knocking and asked for five dolla’s!!!!) Anyway, today when we pulled into our lane, we see “One dolla’ ” squatting by our gate doing his business in front of all of his friends! None of them had shoes on, which is very common, but how gross that they just go to the toilet in front of our house and then all walk and run through it barefoot!!! What’s worse than that? One dolla’ is a girl again! At least that’s what we determined from watching “her” do her business by our gate. We were so sure she was boy too. Very confusing.
4. I unknowingly broke Sa today. Did you read about that in Michael’s blog? If not, go to http://ravallavar.blogspot.com/2011/06/few-local-secrets.html to get a refresher. I had dropped off Matthew and Benjamin at scouts, run to the store to pick up the t-shirts that I needed for our school uniforms to be printed on, and then came back to the church to get them. I had noticed all of the aumaga standing on the side of the road, but I didn’t realise that Sa had started. I parked my car in the church parking lot and got out to get the boys. In less than a second (they must have been watching the disrespectful palagi, AKA me!), I was being yelled at through a megaphone and as I looked over two of them were starting to come towards me. In panic I was able to make eye contact with someone else sitting in their car in the parking lot, who quickly mouthed to me “get in the car, quick”. I didn’t hesitate to follow her advice and quickly got to safety in my car and locked myself in! That was a close one!
5. You’ll get a kick out of this one. I was busy at school teaching my little superstars this morning. It was time for a morning snack so I was taking them all to the bathroom to wash their hands. The bathroom is in the next room, the kindergarten room. Just as we were making our way back to our classroom, the kindergarten teacher screams. I turn around to see what’s going on, and then I start screaming too. There was a rat in the middle of the floor and it was moving fast, trying to find a place to go. My aide and I hurried to get our kids into our classroom, I was still screaming, while the kindergarten teacher was trying to sweep the rat out of the door with a broom. I slammed the door to our classroom and held it shut until it was quiet. I didn’t even care about those kindergarten kids left in the room, and my son Daniel was one of them!!!!! About an hour later we heard screaming from the kitchen as cook was scared by the same (we assume) horrible rodent. This time her husband was quick on the scene, and chopped off it’s head with a shovel. That was the end of that, but we all had intermittent giggles for the rest of the day when we pictured each other screaming in fright!
(Rats are very common here in case you didn’t know, I haven’t mentioned any in my blog before because we haven’t seen any at the house…our neighbors have 7 cats, so we don’t have to deal with that problem. Ironic sidenote is that just before I hit publish on this post, Michael came home and told me he had had his first encounter with a rat! He was praying in the chapel and a rat ran underneath the pew and scared him, what a coincidence!)
6. In between monitoring Matthew in the shower, it started to POUR down. The rain comes down hard here, so hard that you can hear it coming. It’s a really neat thing, you hear it on all of the tin roofs in the village getting closer and closer until it’s pounding on your own roof and it’s so loud you have to shout to be heard. I went to the window to watch it, and I noticed there were three local boys playing outside in the rain. I was curious as to what they were doing, they were laughing and running around barefoot with a new toy that they had created. Turns out they had found a broken stroller somewhere, taken off the wheels, and attached them onto a stick which they were pushing around on the ground and having a great time with in the puddles. See how fulfilling a simple life can be? Just watch out for that dog poop by the gate… or should I say human poop?
All in all, not quite your average day, although nothing out of the ordinary for American Samoa.
So…how was your day?