Friday, December 16, 2011

Island Tour

To celebrate the end of the first school year, I rented a car with two other PCVs and a woman on staff and we toured Upolu for the weekend. Rather, we toured the south side of Upolu. Nancy, the PCV who planned the trip, lives in Savai’i, so she wanted to see more of Upolu since she is hardly ever over here. We started out on Saturday afternoon and drove back through all our training villages on the southwest side of Upolu. Quick stops to visit some familiar sights from the villages, then we went and stayed at Chelsea’s fale for the night. Delicious dinner of some lentil and vegetable soup, grilled cheese, and red wine.

On Sunday, we went to explore part of the national forest by Chelsea. There are supposedly some good little waterfalls just past the entrance, but when we got there at 10:30 in the morning, the river was stagnant and places were bone dry. So we piled back into the car to head to my side of Upolu, the southeast side. We stopped at the sea trench two villages away from me and spent a couple hours there. Back in March or so, I walked to the sea trench, but everything was under construction, so I was a little underwhelmed with what I saw. Now that most of the construction is finished, it’s much better. Either way, the trench is absolutely beautiful. There is intentional landscaping, beautiful scenery, small blowholes, and you can actually go down to the trench or the beach (both of which were unreachable in March). Chelsea and I went swimming in the trench for a bit, swam to the “trench cave,” and came back up. Then it started to rain, so we spent the next hour or so sitting in one of the fales eating a PB&J picnic and watching the waves crash against the rocks and cliffs.

We made a brief detour at my village so I could repack my bag and introduce everyone to my families in my village. The original plan was to spend Sunday night at my fale, but that didn’t work out. I was super excited to have another PCV stay at my fale so somebody might actually understand what my living situation is like, but I’m not too optimistic about that actually happening. I waited until the day before I left for our island tour to ask my neighbors if I could borrow a mattress so all 4 of us would have a place to sleep in my room, trying not to get my hopes up that someone would actually spend the night at my fale, but it didn’t happen anyway. I was super happy to introduce them (Nancy, Chelsea and Denise) to my village though. And it wouldn’t have been great to stay at my fale. I hadn’t had a chance to buy groceries in a while, so I only have the making for PB&J or tuna sandwiches, and Cheerios for breakfast in the morning. And I only have 3 spoons. And while I do have water, the Sunday school and youth group have started practicing twice a day for Christmas, so we would have had a lot to deal with.

We ended up staying at the beach fales on the very southeast tip of Upolu, which are absolutely beautiful. I think the owners are building a resort up on the mountain, but they are still under construction, so for the time being, the Mountain Villas cost the same as the beach fales. The Mountain Villas have a magnificent view! It was very quiet up there, and there were 3 other PCVs staying up there and us, so it was beautiful. The food was delicious, and even though it rained the rest of the day and we couldn’t really enjoy the ocean, the scenery really made up for it.

On Monday we headed back into town. We drove through all the beautiful places of my bus ride (which I really contend is the most beautiful bus ride of any PCV in Samoa now that the 82s are gone. There was one 82 who lived over a different mountain that honestly had a more beautiful ride than I do, but he’s gone now, so I’m the clear winner). We stopped to take pictures at the scenic/science site, and again at the construction graveyard, and then made our way along the coast back into town. We finally convinced Nancy that Upolu is beautiful in its own way – yes, she has a gorgeous beach, but I have wonderful scenery and fake mountains. It was an excellent weekend and a great way to celebrate the end of the school year.

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