Friday, July 29, 2011
My Vice Principal's name is Viper, and other sundry facts about my life on the Rock.
It's been some time since I've posted. Things have just been a whirlwind around here, and I keep meaning to post, but alas, I have not. Let's see, where did I leave off? Ah, yes, I believe it was right after the island tour and the tuna dressed as Polamalu. So, nothing terribly interesting happened during the week last week, at least not that I remember (or maybe life here is just SO interesting, that I can't possibly remember all the awesome.)Oh! I think it was last week that we did a short, steep hike up to Blount's Point, which was this totally amazing WWII cannon site. You're just climbing up a mountain in the jungle and oh, hey, heavy artillery cannon! Of course, being the history nerd that I am, I had a mini freakout. And the view from up there, OMG (or as that say in AmSam, "OKAAAAAA".)
On Saturday, however, a couple of friends and I decided we wanted to kayaking. So we get down to Pago Harbor and rent a couple of kayaks to take out on the ocean. Well, my friend Kasey and I are in a two person kayak, and we get pretty far out in the ocean, and we begin to realize that our kayak is getting more and more water in it. Soon, there's only about one inch of kayak left above the water line. Yep. Our kayak was sinking. It was very soon after we realized this (and had JUST gotten our stuff into Jessica's kayak), that we both took a lovely, unintentional dip into the ocean. We knew we couldn't both get back into the kayak, being as how it was of the sinking variety, but we had to get it back to shore, so Kasey got back in and straddled the center section and somehow paddled that thing back to sure. I, on the other hand, had to hoof it back to shore. Or rather, swim it. I was really far out. To my everylasting shame as a Park Ranger, I am terrible at measuring distance, but one of the other girls told me she thinks it was about a half mile out. Anyway, I did receive some assistance for the other ladies, especially Erin, who literally threw me a line. I didn't really freak out too much, because I was desperately trying not to think about what was underneath me in the ocean. I love water (LOVE!), but as some of you know (Hi, sister!), I have this weird fear of thing IN the water. Not fish or sharks or anything like that. I don't like things like the rusted out anchor that I swam by in Pago Harbor. (I keep wanting to put a "u" in Harbor. What's up with that?). Anyway, I can't explain why, but man made things in water freak me out. So I was just swimming on back to shore, blissfully pretending that there aren't things from like, WWII, at the bottom of Pago Harbor.
Anyway, kayaking was a lot of fun, and now I can add "sinking a kayak in the Pacific Ocean" to the list of improbable things that always seem to happen to me. (Sometimes when I tell people some of the things that have happened to me, I can tell they don't believe me. Then I think, hell, I probably wouldn't believe me, either. Lol.)
I should mention that on the way back home, we saw the same blue kayak sunk again, with different people. So it wasn't just us.
I didn't do crap on Sunday, and it was glorious.
Monday morning we got to go check out(ha!) the public library on American Samoa. It was totally sweet and probably the cleanest place I've seen on the island. I was super excited to go to the library, and they showed us all the awesome stuff the library has to offer, and then they are all, "Oh, yeah, it's great, but BTW, you can't get a library card because you're not a permanent resident." So, what some people are doing is getting an American Samoan drivers license, and then they'll give you a card. Seems a lot of hassle, I know, but we all know how far I will go for the opportunity to have unlimited books at my disposal.
We talked about International Development on Monday afternoon (at least, I think it was Monday, all the days blurr together). I, of course, was really into that class. I had so much to say, and I am absolutely sure I irritated all my classmates because I just kept talking, but it can't be helped. Internationl Development and History are my first loves.
TUESDAY WAS AWESOME. What did we do on Tuesday morning? Guesses? WE WENT TO THE NATIONAL PARK OF AMERICAN SAMOA!!!!!!!!!!!! The Park Rangers gave us a little Interp talk and the slide show included a pic of Grinell Glacier in Glacier NP, and I got all excited. And then I got sad, because I was kind of feeling like I should have been up there in the ol' green and gray, talking about natural resources and the endangered fruit bat (native to Samoa!). Plus, I miss Glacier, and I would be there right now. Anyway, I had an amazing time with the Interp Rangers. I really, really tried not to talk about how awesome the park service is, or act like a know-it-all about the park service to all my fellow WorldTeachers, because I know that's obnoxious, and a trait I do tend to have. I'm not sure I was entirely sucessful (I keep reminding people that the Park Service and Forest Service are not the same thing, and Park Rangers do not work in National Forests, and I'm sure that's getting irritating to those around me. But hey, at least I'm self aware, right?! Lol.)
After the park, we went to a place called Fagatele Bay, and it was so beautiful. The hike down was slippery and slidy and the hike back up was a bitch, but so worth it. I started to go snorkeling way out in the ocean deep, but I don't have fins yet, so I stayed right were the coral reef drops off into the ocean. It was so amazing to snorkel there, but unfortunetly, where the coral reef ends is also where the waves break, so I got totally beat up. I kept getting smashed against the edge of the coral, and coral cuts are not something to take lightly. My legs look like I took a cheese shredder to them. But luckily, none of the cuts look too deep, which is good, because coral can actually GROW INSIDE YOU if you get in in a cut. Gross.
For the last two days we have been doing fake lessons in front of real kids, which has been...okay, but a little bit boring, I'm not gonna lie. It's a lot like preparing an Interp program for the parks, really. But it's been cool to get meet some of the kids.
First thing today I got to meet the Vice Principal of Leone High School, where I will be teaching. His name is Viper. I am not kidding. The funny thing is, I've only been in American Samoa for three weeks and I'm already so accepting of the bizarre, like, "Oh, of course one of the administrators at my school is called Viper. I mean, why wouldn't he be?" He was telling the group that those of us going to Leone are in for a good time at the staff parties (there was something about pole dancing in there, lol.) So, I am really super stoked after meeting him to get out to Leone and meet all the teachers and just be a part of the village.
Tonight is Thursday, which means it's Flight Night (planes only come into AmSam twice a week, and it's a bit of an event. People get dressed up and go watch people arrive off the plane.)One of our field directors, Alison, is leaving, so we all got gussied up and went over to airport and did the whole Flight Night thing and it was ridiculous and a lot of fun. We were watching the arrivals and two girls that were in my fake lessons came up to me and were all, "Hi, Miss Amber" and was really cool. I guess now I understand how my mom feels when her students see her in the grocery store or somewhere and make a point to say hi. Anyway, these girls were waiting for a cousin to get back from the States, which could be their actual cousin, or could be their seventh cousin six times removed, because family (aiga) is the end all and be all here. It's kind of nice, since I, too, come from a huge family with a rather loose definition of what it means to be family. We just let anyone in, lol.
While we were watching the arrivals, this family came out to greet their dad, and the little girls were crying, they were so happy to see them, and it was just so beautiful to see and it reminded me of the beginning of Love Actually and oh, it was just lovely. As my friend Mitch said as we watched it unfold, "I hope my kids will love me that much." Sigh. The whole thing was so cute. I'm such sucker for familial love. Or, let's be honest, any love. I am surely a romantic.
ANYWAY, I digress. Flight Night was good fun, and I walked back from the airport with Lisa, Jillian and Katherine, and per usual, being in their company was just one solid hour of hilarity and fun. Then I took a shower (did I mention hot water is not even an option on this island?), and I talked for a bit to our night watchmen ( his name is Samoa Samoa. The names here, I swear.)He actually played for the Bengals during the Steel Curtain days of the Steelers, and he got to play against Terry Bradshaw, Lambert, all those guys.
I'm beginning to think that every tenth person on this island has played professional football. And why not? Samoans are massive. Not necessarily fat, but just gigantic. I found out that the US military had to add a special "Samoan Weight Class" because it was like impossible for the Samoans to fit in the standard weight class without looking like they were sick and starving to death. I find this both hilarious, and also completely badass. I should mention that Samoans are way into the military, but this post is already hella long, so that is a post for another day.
Until next time,
Manuia le po!