Snorkeling, Pizza, and To'ona'i

The wharf on one of the islands

Sorry I haven’t written much here in a while, I have been busy with my graduate school application. Let me give you a few updates.

Beaches and Snorkeling
Last week, one of the volunteers from the mainland came to Ta’u for a visit. On Saturday, we took her to Toa, which is a small, rocky beach about 20 minutes from our house.

The hike there is pretty easy, with great views. At one point along the hike there is a cave-like canopy of tree roots and branches that we walk under, and I’m always fascinated by it. Despite the rockiness of the beach, you can usually wade into a small pool and cool off, but the waves were too strong when we went. So, we just sat down on the shore and let the waves lap at our feet as we soaked in the sun and chatted.

After we came back from Toa, we decided to go snorkeling in the wharf right next to our house. There is a good amount of coral and brightly colored fish there, and the current and waves weren’t very strong in the wharf, so it was a perfect day for snorkeling. I saw pink, purple, brown, white coral, as well as blue fish and yellow fish. Lots of colors to soak in and appreciate. The water is very blue and clear, so for a little bit it felt like I was on a fancy tropical vacation.

Of course, volunteering here is far from vacation. I spend 8 hours a day at school, and I am mostly drained when I get home. Luckily, I have a pretty great group of students who are a daily reminder that my time here is a good investment into their future.

Pizza and To’ona’i
Because there are no restaurants or any other form of entertainment around the island, we have learned to entertain ourselves and be our own restaurants. Occasionally, Erika and I will feel inspired and make a fancy meal. For example, last week our fancy meal was pizza. We made the dough from scratch and used some of our precious cheese to make the most delicious pizza I have had this year. Cheese is a valuably commodity here because the tiny stores don’t sell it, so we have to ask someone coming back from the mainland to bring it.

Every Sunday after church, we have to’ona’i with the principal of our school and her husband, who is a reverend. To’ona’i is the Samoan equivalent of a Sunday brunch. Meat is a very big part of the Samoan diet, so there is usually a variety of meat on the table—chicken, pork, ham. Sometimes there is seafood, too—yellowfin tuna, octobus, oka (marinated raw fish in a coconut sauce). This past Sunday we were especially lucky—we had salad! Lettuce, tomato, cucumber. All things I haven’t eaten in about 2 months, since the Samoan diet isn’t big on fruits and vegetables so they don’t sell them in the stores.

Well, there you have it. A few random bits and pieces of my life here. Manui’a le aso!


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