Fri., January 14, 2000
Romney, WV

Introduction: Steve Bailes and his wife, Terry, both Hampshire County educators, are spending a year out of the country teaching as well as learning. Steve will keep us updated on their experiences on this site. Join us in the experience of teaching abroad.
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January 14, 2000
Heather and Stephanie went home. It was so nice having them here. It was so nice running around the island with them. One of them said they couldn't really enjoy Hawaii after being in Samoa. "Hawaii was too commercial." I was so glad both daughters clearly understood much of what makes this place sodistinctive: even more than its natural beauty, the un-materialistic, people centered attitude of so many islanders really registered with them. 

Heather and Steph achieved their goal of swimming everyday they were on island. One day Heather was swimming purposefully toward me. "Dad, what LOOKS like a shark?" "Uh, a shark," I answered. Steph joined us, we went back down and saw seven sharks feeding (a tail sticking out of the jaws.) These were small, but it was still exciting to have them swim within reach if you didn't startle them.

At the same beach Terry pointed out a stonefish. He was almost perfectly camouflaged on the white and purple coral. I bounced a few coral off his head to try and make him move. I ended up nudging him with my flipper. He reluctantly swam/hopped away (exposing some startling orange fins.) 

Notice the light colored ulu, Samoan word for breadfruit or head. Same color but skinny cooked bananas. In the foreground are chickins wrapped in banana leaves. The poor critters had red hot rocks place up their hinterparts (after they were dead.) I think we're using folded banana stems as tongs to place the rocks.
The next day we met an interesting group of palagis at the tidal pool beyond Sliding Rock. The group included Will, the biology teacher at Leone, his wife Sherri and kids. Will was a wealth of knowledge about marine biology. One of the bits of info dealt with the very poisonous stonefish that can paralyze a human limb for life. (And I was bouncing nudging it with my flipper?!) Will also told of the very plentiful coneshells that sting their victim -a deadly sting. He gave specific examples of deaths and coma victims. I think I'll be a little more deliberate about what I pick up.

The girls and I drove over the mountain to the north side to Saleli. Beautiful reefs. Picked up my first brittle star, a type of starfish. Its movements remind me of an octopus, quite different from the slow moving starfish. Anyway, the poor fellas leg broke off (I believe it's part of the defense mechanism), but the leg continued to wriggle in my hand. 

We finally got out to, "Tisa's Barefoot Bar and Beach." Jason, our host, told us the best places to snorkel out past the reef. Tisa's features a traditional looking fale, and a white sand beach. We're anxious to return to try their highly recommended dinners.

Saturday, the 9th, there was an earthquake centered in Tonga, about 270 miles southwest of Samoa. It registered around 7. On the Richter Scale. The earthquake was located in a remote area and was at a depth of about 115 miles below the surface of the Earth no damage or casualties were reported. Went up on the mountain at night to enjoy the cool sea breeze and watch for shooting stars.

Jonathan took us to Mt. Alava. Walking along the ridge you could look down on Pago Harbor to the south and rock formations in the ocean like Cock's Comb to the north. A Samoan gentleman was kind enough to share his knowledge of the local archaeological finds, as well as the birds and trees we could see on top of the moutain. 

It was very chilly (probably mid 70's) the day the kids left. Nancy fixed some delicious chili to warm us up.

It was wonderful to have my daughters meet many of the people we have spoken so much about. People of our church families, Bible studies, the school I believe Eileen George was quoting someone when she pointed out that there was still a form of cannibalism on island; the island devours a part of the heart of anyone who experiences the kindness and the graciousness that is Samoa. My daughters, Terry and I are so lucky to have experienced that. 

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