Friday, January 30, 2009

A lot to do...

Well, all I really want to do is sit by a swimming pool and be able to go for a swim to cool down every five minutes! Unfortunately our hotel doesn't have a pool, it is morbidly hot and humid outside and I have so much to do!

Our boat leaves for Tokelau on Tuesday at 9am (NZ Wed 9am). Before then Matt and I have to go shopping for anything and everything we might need in Tokelau. I'm looking forward to buying a plastic laundry basket and filling it with fruit and veges to take back with us. If we buy any meat we need to cut it up into the right portion sizes, package it and bring it to the Tokelau Apia Liason office to be frozen for the boat trip.

We also need to organise a contact in Apia who will be able to purchase fresh fruit and veges for us in Apia each fortnight and who will ensure they get on the boat for us to receive at the other end! We need to buy fans and fishing line and God knows what else!

We have learned that having a water purification system would be useful, otherwise we can simply boil our water... It would have been nice to know these things before we left NZ, but there's no point worrying about things like that now!

We have learnt about some of the rules that each of the atolls have. On Fakaofo women are not allowed to wear shorts or trousers, they must wear skirts or sarongs. Each evening at 6pm a bell will ring, when you hear this you must head home for prayer time. If you get caught out away from home, you must stay where you are to observe this time quietly. If you are caught on the streets there may be a policeman who will ask you to sit down where you are.

After a while a second bell goes to let you know you are free to roam again. Eventually another couple of bells will go to tell people to go home at various different time. From memory, everyone needs to be home by 9.30pm.

We are currently trying to ensure that we live on Fenua Fala, not Fale. Apparently Fale is a concrete jungle of corrugated iron that heats up to form a heat trap. It would also be useful to have easy access to the school whenever I need it, so that I can get on with the copious amounts of work that I will be doing while there to help establish systems in the school for planning, assessment and reporting to the Taupulega (Elders/Government/Board of Trustees etc...) Not to mention specific teacher training... Hmmm... does this role sound like a deputy or principal to you?

Anyway, it has not all been work, work, work. Each afternoon we have had free to ourselves. Matt and I have been able to explore Palolo Deep, a great marine reserve in Apia, and Papa Seea, Sliding Rocks, a system of water falls up in the hills behind Apia. While there we saw some kamikaze teens doing some pretty amazing high dives and barefoot-snowboarding styles down the smooth, mossy water swept rocks. I was brave enough to have one go at sliding down, but the whole way feared for my life! Maybe one day I'll do it again, but I'm happy for that to be a little way off yet!

Anyway, I'd better stop procrastinating about going out into the heat of the day. There are lava lavas to buy and last minute comforts of home to buy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Apia, Samoa

After arriving in Samoa at 2am we caught a taxi to our hotel. The heat was humid and a ‘cool’ 25 degrees… Over the last few days we have been slowly acclimatising to the oppressive humidity and heat, with lazy book reading, relaxing snorkelling and the occasional ‘slow dash’ to the shops to browse for items we might need in Tokelau.

The first item we have bought is an umbrella… I have never experienced as much rain as we have had so far in Samoa. Just when you think the rain on the corrugated iron roof can’t get any louder it goes up a few decibels! The rain is always a welcome relief, it freshens the air.

My favourite thing so far has been the snorkelling, followed a close second by Apia market.

For the past two days we have been to Vaiala Beach to fight the strong currents out to the reef. Once out past the strong currents it was so worth it! I can think of at least 15 different types of fish we saw, not to mention the electric purple starfish!

At the market it seems like every stall sells the same items. Taro, coconuts, copra, taro, coconuts, copra, bananas, taro, coconuts and copra! Each stall has a few people working on it and they all just sit about in the heat chatting. I can’t wait to go on our big vege buying shop the day before catching the boat to Tokelau.

Today we met the principal from Nukunonu. He suggested we get a contact in Apia to send us fresh fruit and veges on the fortnightly boat to Tokelau. He also told us that the women on Atafu and Fakaofo have created a bakery, so we will not have to bake our own bread! It is great to get tips from the locals, as up till now we have been the blind leading the blind!
I have set up a wikispace-wishlist so that you can all send us parcels of treats!

It may be wishful thinking, but here’s hoping!

This week we have a conference, but we have just heard that the people arriving from Tokelau will not be able to make it, so it will be postponed until another time… We will still have some meetings however, as there are some other new teachers starting, and there are some others from Tokelau who have returned from their holidays in New Zealand for the conference also.

Anyway, I’m off to look up some sites on things to do in Samoa! Happy holidays!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Signing our lives away!

Well, our contracts have finally arrived, they've been signed and we'll be posting them back soon. We fly next Friday to Samoa for 11 days before going on the long boat journey to Fakaofo.

While in Samoa we will be organising our Tokelaun bank accounts, gettings visas and making sure our freight gets on the same boat we do. We're excited about seeing the sites around Apia, and attending the week long Principals' Conference. It will be great to meet some of the other Volunteers and put faces to names.

The boat trip to Tokelau is likely to be very crowded; with school holidays finishing soon and the volunteers and other staff from the school all needing to return to the atolls.

We really hope that we haven't forgotten anything important in our boxes that we shipped off earlier this week! By the time we get to Tokelau and realise, it will be too late... at least for another six months when we'll have our first break in Samoa.

Over and out for now... the next post will be from Samoa!