Mon., December 26, 1999

1st table

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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December 27, 1999

This is a bird shop in Kaohsiung. We could only say hello and thankyou to each other but he was very friendly and obviously loved his birds.

Terry and Noel, Arbor Day
(Thankyou faifiau John)

On 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.

Talofa 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 chill.

Turn 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 course).

At 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 miles.

John 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.

OK golfers, eat yer heart out. There is a golf course towards IliIli. It's $6 for "islanders" to play 18 holes.

Some 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.

I'm 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.

Everybody 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.

An 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 contact her.

Jonathan 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.

We 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 spaghetti.

The 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 that day.

A 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."

The 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 = veteran.

Most 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.

Tautalatala, Manuia le Kirisimasi, Sitivi

Nicole and Warren on Arbor Day.

Mercy planting for Arbor Day.

This shows our first apartment in Kaohsiung. We were on the 4th floor. You had to have a key to get through the alley gate. There was no elevator. Lugging PC, computer desk, printer (in addition to our luggage) was not fun.

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