TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
the twelfth day of Christmas, my matai
gave to me: twelve lava lavas. eleven pula
tasis, ten aiga buses, nine full body
tatoos, eight kui kui, seven pua ulas, six
bowls of ava, five tapa cloths, four fala
Samoa, three tele fales, two to'oto'o and
fue, and a pig and ulu in an umu.
Glossary: faifiau- preacher; matai- chief;
lava lava- brightly colored wrap around
skirts worn by both sexes; pula tasi-
formal skirt and top worn by women; aiga
bus- family or village run bus; kui kui-
sea urchins, delicacy; pua- fragrant
flower; ula- flower lei; pumeria; ava-
traditional drink made from a ground
pepper; tele fales- traditional, big open
houses; fala- pineapple; tapa cloth-
design or pictures on mulberry bark;;
to'oto'o and fue- traditional symbols of
the chief; ulu- breadfruit; umu- pit
barbecue of red hot rocks.
to friends in Iunaite Setete o Amerika
(U.S.) and Saina (China/Taiwan) People are
getting ready for Christmas. Lots of
decorations on houses, churches and
businesses. It's kind of strange to be
riding around on the scooter at 7 p.m.
It's still light out enough so you don't
need headlights. We're in shirt sleeves
(80 degrees). But look across the street
and you see penguins, reindeer and Santas
all bundled up against the December
on the TV at any hour and you'll probably
get to see a school or business group in
coordinated outfits singing Christmas
carols. We've been told that even the
inmates of the Tafuna jail will be
caroling Christmas Day. You do have to
worry a little about the staff at Pacific
Horizons School. Jonathan is distraught.
"The other reindeer should judge Rudolph
by his inner qualities and not by his
outward appearance." I mention this
behavior to Mara, my boss, expecting her
to roll her eyes or shake her head in
disapproval, but she expands on the topic,
"Have you ever considered the message of
Rudolph? 'You have to be a hero to be
accepted by the crowd'." I think a
prerequisite of working here is a certain
level of insanity (myself excluded of
pastor Jim and Emi's house we had real
cocoa made by Emi's parents. It was
delicious. They roast the bean and then
crush it. So there were actual nutty
chunks as you finished the drink. Emi is
going home to Western Samoa (an
independent country) for Christmas. Maybe
she'll bring back some cocoa. We've met so
many interesting people on the island.
Lynn and Paul told us of canoeing the Rio
Grande and fighting elk in the backyard.
Bern and Nancy told of kayaking 1,000
gave me a good recipe for Kim chi, a
fermented cabbage that's a key ingredient
in Korean dishes. If anyone is interested
in any recipes, let me know.
golfers, eat yer heart out. There is a
golf course towards IliIli. It's $6 for
"islanders" to play 18 holes.
of my students were rather upset. They
couldn't get it through the stupid
palagi's skull (that's me) that it was
dangerous to go swimming certain places
and certain times. They have lots of
stories of specific ghosts that do
terrible things to those foolish enough to
invade their domain. The students can site
specific examples of deaths and injuries.
not making much progress with the Samoan
language. Tagi is our ever-so-patient
Samoan language teacher. Unfortunately I
don't "need" to speak Samoan.
speaks English. So I get lazy. It is an
almost musical language. In the Samoan
language there is a glottal stop shown
with an apostrophe. Also the "g" is
pronounced like a "ng." "K"s and "T"s are
interchangeable (T's are more formal.) I
think I could spend a long time here and
still not know a whole lot about the
language. A Samoan language web site
suggested that after much practice you
should try to speak Samoan to Samoans. It
entertains the locals. The web site
further stated that you should be glad
that the Samoans speak much better English
than your Samoan will ever be.
artist I met on the net, Eileen George,
has done some beautiful paintings of
Samoa. She has the uncanny ability to
capture the heart of Samoa (pardon me if
that sounds trite), something I have
unsuccessfully struggled to do with the
camera. When we first got on island she
had an exhibit at the library. Beautiful
works showing many of the familiar scenes
on island. I'd be glad to tell you how to
took Terry and I to the airport beach. You
cut across the airport landing strip to
get to it. And the jets take off over your
head. Beautiful fish and corals. Big eels
(kind of spooky.) Needle fish (attach
themselves to the floor and imitate sea
grass). Trumpet fish too. Such vivid
colors. Sunday, we stopped at a village
and asked for permission to snorkel. Found
a big conch shell. I asked if I should
leave it, or if I could buy it. They said
just take it.
went out past the reef. I felt like Lloyd
Bridges swimming down through the clefts
and under ledges. I hope the underwater
camera works. I think it's good to 10 ft.,
but I know I went deeper. Yesterday we saw
a snake like body with an anemone mouth.
We've been watching divers who come up
with worm-like things hanging out of their
mouths - like wiggling
high school finished the term this week.
Terry and the other students finished last
week. We're off until January 3. Here is
our teaching schedule: 7:30 show up at
school (on time always); 7:45 journal
writing and discussion; 8-10 Science or
math or Social Studies (Jr. High); 10-12
(high school) Biology. We get about an
hour each morning in the computer lab. 12-
1:10 I'm free-- lunch etc.1:10-2 is phys.
ed. and or "fun" classes. From 2-2:15
students clean up, and then there is a
"log out" time. This is a round robin
discussion, usually relating to something
neighboring village, Vaitogi, celebrated A
Day of Sa - prayer. Jonathan and Courtney
had to move out for the day because the
village shuts down. Nobody comes in or
goes out. One of the ladies in our Bible
study couldn't come for the same reason.
The story goes, there was a fire in the
village. The elders said it was due to
sinfulness. They would atone for a 100
years. But after the 100 years, they
thought, "It worked for the last100 years.
Why discontinue a good thing."
ants are everywhere. What we called -
excuse me - "piss-ants." You can tell how
long people have been "on island" by how
they deal with finding ants in the sugar:
#1 Dump the sugar = newly arrived. #2 Pick
out the ants = been on island a month. #3
Ignore the ants and dump it in the coffee
villages have an oxygen tank hanging out.
They use it as a gong to announce church
gatherings or Sa. "Sa" means prayer. "Moa"
means "chicken." I think Sa-moa loses
something in the translation. We got the
Uila afi (motorbike) licensed, even though
it isn't registered or insured in my name.
Things aredone quite differently here.
Manuia le Kirisimasi, Sitivi