Thursday, March 31, 2011

Samoa (cont.)

This is just a bunch of random pictures that aren't really related in any story, but wanted to post them anyway....enjoy.Above: I asked Kuso's mom if she could sew a puletasi (Samoan dress) for Leila before we left. I even told her to make it a little big so she could grow into it next year because we had already bought a dress that should fit her this summer. Well, this is what she came up with. She just looked at her, pulled this old material out, and sewed it. She is so talented. I watched her in the past sew three puletasies for Kuso's nieces in the morning before we were going to leave. She also sewed another skirt that is orange with purple flowers that is a little bigger that will fit her later on.

Below: Leila LOVES to be thrown in the air...and I have been around on several different occasions when Kuso's high tosses have caused other people to gasp. He does throw her quite high, but she loves every second of it. This is on her way down...she was just slightly higher than this.
Above: Just a shot of the side yard at Kuso's house. This is the laundry system. In the back (that old shack looking thing) is where they do a lot of the big cooking. Just behind the red/pink shirt is where the outdoor shower is. This is a common look among all of the houses in Samoa.

Below: This little girl wanted to see the "palagi" girl. So her mom brought her to see Leila. I don't think she was too impressed since their hair and eyes are the same color...Leila is just slightly lighter skinned. I thinks he was more impressed with me with my white skin, lighter hair, and lighter eyes.

Above: Atonio's old truck that gets him to the plantation (when it doesn't have a flat tire.) There were tires for this truck in the box that got stuck with all of our stuff in it.

Below: Down the street (across the corner from where we rented our car - $100 tala per day = $130 US dollars for 3 days...not too bad) is where Kuso's good friends lived. Kuso said, "Let me take a picture of this...that is where Josh and Burton lived." I think sometimes he is starting to think like a blogger. :) I think it was more to show them this store that has been built on the corner. And since their wives look at this blog, here it is.

Krissy's is the name of the store. I didn't go inside, but in every other market, they have Krissy brand snacks (chips, corn puffs, etc.) YUM. Very crispy and good flavor.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Samoa (cont.)

Friday before we came home was election day. Most businesses were closed to allow the public to get out and vote. We also used this day to drive to the other side of the island to see where the tsunami hit in September 2009. This is one of the lines people were waiting in to vote. There were houses like this all along the island set up as voting locations. EVERY location had a long line like this. We took Kuso's mom into town where we were told it was a less busy location. Well, we still waited close to an hour for her to get her turn to vote. Then we were on our way to the beach. It was kind of patriotic to see so many people interested in exercising their right to vote.Above and Below: Pictures of the thick greenery along the drive. I just love coastal shots like this that show the greenery with the ocean in the back.

This is the only picture I took of the tsunami aftermath. It didn't feel right to stop and take pictures of the destruction that was caused by the tsunami in September 2009. Driving along the road, it was apparent where the tsunami hit. There were sections where the waves clearly hit, washing away homes, cars, people, animals, and any form of plant life out into the ocean. Then there were sections that were not affected as the homes were still in tact and the scenery was plush and green. As we drove through the tsunami area, there was a somber feeling knowing that nearly 140 people lost their lives in that disaster.

It was also kind of refreshing to see that people had rebuilt new houses and continued on with their lives despite the devastation surrounding them.

Part of the tsunami grounds was Lalomanu beach. I also visited this beach during past visits. It has nice sand, and these little fales that you rent for $30 tala for the day. I especially was anxious to take pictures to see if/how the tsunami changed the view from the beach. In comparing the new to the old pictures, everything is practically the same. I'm not sure how hard this part of the beach was hit, but everything has been cleaned up nicely.Leila loves the beach. Not the sand, but just being outside in the warm, and she loves the water.Above:From the beach fale, looking down to the left.Above: From the middle of the beach, looking to the right with the ocean behind me, the row of fales. The nice ones to the right I think are for guests who stay there overnight. The other ones we used are just for day visitors. You can also see where they have planted new coconut trees.

Below: Same view, just more towards the water.

Below: From the beach, ocean to my back, looking to the left.The total trip around the island takes around 4 hours. Hard to really keep track of time, but the average speed is around 30 mph +/-. The speed limit is 30-35, but with the conditions of some of the roads, you usually go a little slower.Above: one of 4 or 5 baby pigs that follow mommy pig around. These babies will become dinner some day, but the mom is a pet. The funny thing is that all 5 babies look different. Different colors and patterns. They were pretty cute. This little guy just fell asleep on the grass in the open.

These are mini bananas. They taste pretty much like normal bananas. We tried to keep bananas around because Leila usually likes them. This is one of the first Samoan words that Leila uses. "Fa'i." Sometimes she points, says "nana (pause) fa'i." Kuso's family loved to hear her say Samoan words in the right context.

She also uses "uma" (finished, done) when her drink is gone or the food is gone. She says "aua" (stop it) when she is about to do something she is not supposed to, but then usually stops herself and just points at something she was going to touch.

Samoa (cont.)

Just off the side of the main road there is a sea turtle pond. It is free to go to. They just put the sea turtles in this pond to protect them. I don't think they bring all of them here, because there are still some "wild" ones in the ocean, but there are quite a few in this pond.
Above: The view of the pond from where we parked the car. During past trips, we have just pulled off the side of road and looked at it from there. This trip we pulled to the inside and went to the "beach" where we could get a closer look.

"Turtle" in Samoan is "laumei."

This is one of the first Samoan words that I learned and it stuck with me the first time.

I have been able to visit this pond on every visit to Samoa. The first trip we had Kuso's niece and nephew with us. Nuga was about 4 at that time. When she saw the turtles, she started yelling "laumei! laumei!" So now, when I see a turtle, that's what I think. Above: From the beach, looking to the left.

Below: From the beach, looking to the right. Below: From the beach, looking across toward the road. It is just mesmerizing to watch the turtles in the water. They are so peaceful and elegant. And the coloring on their shells is so awesome. Kuso's dad has a shell of a turtle that they killed to eat when Kuso was just a young kid. Kuso remembers eating it and said it was the best meat he has ever tasted. I would think otherwise, but he said it was amazing. ( was NOT against the law at that time...since then, they now protect the turtles.) Anyway, I wanted to bring that shell home to put on our wall. It is beautiful, plus it would be a very cool cultural item to have. Well, because turtles are protected, you cannot bring anything involving turtles through customs (shells, earrings, meat, creams with turtle oils (?) etc.) So the lady at customs said "enjoy it while your there, because that is where it will stay."

Samoa (cont.)

Church College of Western Samoa


This is where Kuso went to school. In Samoa "college" is equivalent to what we call "high school."

The school is right next to the temple grounds and is sponsored by the LDS church. From what Kuso has explained over the years, it's kind of like a mini BYU. You have to apply to get in. When Kuso was accepted, he had to cut his hair short (used to be all the way down his back) and basically live the church standards.

Kuso is not here to tell me what these pictures are, so I'll try to go off of memory of comments he made. The school has changed since we were there last (4+ years ago.)Above: There used to be a gymnasium ahead. That is torn down and they rebuilt a new one. When we drove past the new one, it was in a weird place to take a picture of so we didn't get one.

Below: The classrooms. The building behind is what I remember walking through where the actual classrooms are. There are also signs posted that say "speak in English only please." Hence the reason why all of the Samoan guys who went to this school speak English far better than the guys who went to a regular high school (if they went at all.)
Above: That fale (house) in the back is new. I'm assuming it's for meetings, or maybe the "stage" for assemblies. I'm not sure...Kuso just kept saying that it was new.

Below: More shots of the classrooms ( I think.)
Kuso was impressed with the changes that were made. There is also a pretty big library on the other side where the gymnasium is.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Samoa (cont.)

"I love to see the temple..."

I was excited for this trip because I actually had a recommend this time and Kuso told me that they do endowment sessions with English translation. I was really excited for Kuso to be able to go through the temple in his native language again, and for me to experience something different. We got to Samoa on Thursday, went to church Sunday and learned that it would be closed for the next two weeks for maintenance. Bummer. But we were still able to see it from outside the gates and get a few pictures.

Seriously, my pictures of the Samoa temple are prettier than the ones they sell at the distribution centers. Maybe I should sell them to the church. The last trip I took a gorgeous picture that is now blown up and on my living room wall. These pictures are actually prettier because the landscaping have grown in better, but the last picture had a pretty blue sky for a background. More pretty flowers that grow over there.

This was awesome. In the states, we use bark to beautify our flower beds. As I walked past, I noticed that these were coconut shells that had been chopped up. Pretty cool (and resourceful.)

Samoa (cont.)

One day we just drove around Apia taking pictures of things. This is where the fafafine pageant was going to be held. I didn't realize the dates until it was too late, but we could have gone in person to watch the silliness of that. (Fafafine (not completely sure that is spelled right) is a gay guy that dresses up like a girl.) We actually stopped by the restaurant because Kuso was hoping to speak to the owner who also owns one of the big hotels in American Samoa where he used to dance. These next few pictures are also for Kuso. He took pictures of the scaffold. That is what he builds for a job, so it was interesting for him to see a large building being built with the help of scaffold. Plus, this is a HUGE building for Samoa. H-U-G-E. We never got a clear answer of what it is going to be either.
Above: An old court house.

Below: The new court house.
It was kind of awesome to see this underdeveloped country becoming more "civilized." There were actually stories on the news about kids being charged for crimes (this case was a child molestation case) that happened when he was 17 and now he is 19. The reports were about how to handle the case, whether to treat him as an adult or as a juvenile. This may not interest many of you, but because of what I do for a job, it was VERY interesting to me...especially in a country that is so jam packed with tradition and culture that to see them handling a case like this in a civil manner was very interesting.

Also, a side note to remind myself: There were a few sandwich signs along the side of the road that said "Say no to rape and other indecent acts." I'm wondering if it was in relation to this case, or if that is becoming more of a problem over there and this is an attempt to educate the public. I saw both signs on opposite sides of the island, so it wasn't localized. Just interesting.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Samoa (cont.)

Kuso really wanted to show us the plantation during this trip. The previous post showed the small plantation that is just a short walk from their house. This is their big plantation. I was just amazed at how thick and green everything is. And that they don't get lost. I was SO twisted around as we drove there. Above: this is the road leading toward the plantation.
Most of these pictures just show the thick, green, jungle.

Above: Eggplant - Kuso's favorite
Below: Super Mom coming back with a bunch of bananas. Those suckers are heavy. She chopped them with that big knife, then carried them back (with ease) from deep inside those trees. Amazing. This is the house where Kuso's brother and wife stay when they come to the plantation. They used to sleep there for most of the time, but now Atonio has an old truck that takes them back and forth, so they don't spend many nights there anymore.

I started to follow Kuso down one of the paths just to see how deep the plantation goes. I had to go back. The mosquitoes were ridiculous and I was being eaten alive. Made me wonder if Survivor provides their contestants with insect repellent because there is no way those little white girls spent that much time on this same island and didn't get eaten alive. NO way.


This is the toilet. Yep, just out in the open. But who is going to see you? I'm not sure it's working...but I didn't want to get close enough to see.
This is the Teuila plant. This is a very special plant...not sure the meaning or the reason, but every September they have a Teuila festival, named after this plant. It is so pretty.
Just imagine...Kuso's cousins used to live not very far from this area. They used to WALK ALL the way through this thick, green, jungle to the main road to catch the bus to go to school. It took us an easy 20 minutes driving to get there from Kuso's house. Then the school is another 20+ minute DRIVE in the opposite direction once you get to the main road. Imagine how long these kids spent walking just to get to school. I'm not much of a girlie girl, but I think life growing up there could have been rough...especially for those families that have houses a long distance off the main roads where the buses can help get you to where you want to go.