The Days are Slow, The Weeks Fly By

The bridge between Ofu/Olosega, two islands next to the one I'm living on. Known for being one of the top undiscovered beaches in the world

Guess what? My volunteer contract is halfway over. I’ve been in American Samoa for nearly 3 months. It’s hard to wrap my mind around this fact. Just yesterday, it seems, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do after I graduated, and here I am, living on a remote island, asking time where it’s rushing.

I’ve been enjoying my time here. Things here don’t get too exciting, but it doesn’t mean my experience here is boring. For the past two Saturdays, I’ve been snorkeling in the wharf at the end of our village. As I’ve mentioned in my last post, it’s gorgeous. This past Saturday, I went to an area of the wharf I hadn’t been to before. I followed the dogs along a trail that led down to a sandy, rarely visited beach, with some great access to coral. Erika, Brian and I snorkeled for a good forty minutes. It was a small adventure, I would say—we swam between a few small coral walls, and because the tide was low and the surf was calm, we were able to go a little farther in the wharf. I swam over a deep area with coral boulders on the bottom, where all kinds of fish like to hide. Striped fish, black fish, yellow fish, blue fish, finding Nemo fish, fish that looked like coral—you name it. And because the water is so clear you can see down really deep. Afterward, we let the current carry us back toward the beach, where we watched the dogs catch a crab and then try to eat it without getting pinched on the nose. After the refreshing swim, Erika and I made homemade pizza, which I guess has become a Saturday tradition.

One very, very popular pastime here in Manu’a (and American Samoa in general) is Bingo. People, mostly women, play for hours. Nearly every day of the week, there is a Bingo being hosted, either here in Faleasao, or the neighboring village, Ta’u. People spend lots of money on bingo. The jackpot can range from $600 to $1000, depending on who hosts the bingo. On Friday, Erika and I decided to try our luck at it. It was an evening bingo in Ta’u, and we didn’t have much else to do. Plus, we knew that the locals would be happy to see us participating in community life. Needless to say, we didn’t win bingo a single time, even though I spent $12 and so did Erika. It was still fun, and I got to improve my knowledge of Samoan numbers. Plus, I got to see a few of my students. Our visit didn’t go unnoticed by the locals, either. Some of the kids who were calling out the numbers even started calling them out in English and Samoan when we came.

The other day when the power went out—this happens regularly, though not for long durations—Erika and I went outside and looked at the starts in the pitch-blackness. Without any light pollution, and because it was a relatively cloud-free sky, we could see so many stars. And, since I’m living on the other side of the equator now, I get to see certain stars (and even galaxies, when the sky is particularly clear of clouds) that I can’t see back home. I stood there, soaking in the stars above, the big cliff behind me and the ocean in front of me, asking myself how in the world I was lucky enough to end up here.

I guess I’ve come to the realization that even though there are no restaurants, no stores stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, no movie theaters, it doesn’t mean that life here isn’t interesting. The outings, the busy American lifestyle that I’ve become used to don’t exist out here, but there are plenty of things that can’t be found anywhere else but here. You just have to know where to look, and you will probably be surprised by the cool things you find.


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