Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Renovations

When we were brought to our house the first night at around 11:00 PM we were told that we had a great house, the best that some had seen. I think we were in a little shock from that statement, it was horrible. It was all white, everything and super dirty. So me being the girl I am, I quickly got to work on the renovation of this place. I found a lovely tropical print to make the curtains with and then I went to Ace to find my paints. I chose a dark brown for the trim and doors, a lime green for the walls and a turquoise for the accent walls. It also helped that our things arrived and I could put up pictures of our favorite people to look at everyday. It looks so much better, we actually enjoy being in the house now. I have not started on our bedroom yet so that you will have to see some other time.

The guest bedroom. Come on over for a visit!
The "Garage"

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Few Photos

Jeremy's American Samoa Attire - This is a traditional outfit, the men do wear these skirts called a lavalava or Ie (correction it is pronounced e.a. not spelled that way) and the beads are very popular with the men too. Different types show rank in a village.

Our stuff made it!
And it only took 4 days to actually get it once it was on island.
(there is a lot of sarcasm in that sentence if you cannot tell)

Annie stuck behind the hot water heater. Don't worry she got out the next second.
Enjoying the back yard.
The inside of one of the buses. They love to blare the music and they love Akon.

A trip in the back of Ned's Truck
Traveling in the back a truck is a standard form of transportation here.
A view of the harbor during the trip.
At an English Lawn Party with Sarah

Oscar, the host, Lucy, the birthday girl and Alyssa.

American Samoa Bar Association

I am now a member of the American Samoa Bar Association. Ashley and I went to the High Court where I was to get sworn in. I was sworn in during the mornings court proceedings after a criminal hearing that had taken place. I was asked to come forward and say the attorney's oath. The oath started out well as the Chief Justice simply said about 10 or so words and then had me repeat them. Unfortunately, the Chief Justice is a busy man and decided to say about five lines at a time. I was not able to repeat these lines verbatim but it worked out. Now I am officially barred in two jurisdictions; I have to admit the other then traveling 6,600 miles then admissions process for American Samoa was much easier then Florida.

Mother's Day

For Mother's Day we were invited to Asaua Fumaono's church and to have a traditional Samoan dinner with his family afterwards. He works as an Attorney at the Attorney Generals office with Jeremy and he is the Pastor at an Assembly of God church. We were excited to go and see a Samoan Service and experience some of the wonderful culture here.

We got up and got out the door, we knew we were looking for a 3 story house with a blue roof around a curve in the road. So we pull up to a house with a blue roof, Jeremy asks the guy in the yard if this is Asaua's house and he says yes come in. SO in to the house we go and then realize this is not the right house and this guy does not really speak English. We kindly thank him and get back into the car to find the other house with a blue roof. I am mad at Jeremy at this point because of course this is all his fault and now we are late. We find the correct house and go into the church, that is connected to the house, where they sit us right up front since we are apparently special guests. Of course since this is American Samoa, and everything runs on island time, church does not start on time, we are there like 45 minutes before the service actually starts. But there is great music so we enjoy waiting for the Mothers to begin the service. It is a special day where the Mothers are running things so church can't start until they all show up.

Once the Mothers arrive they have a parade, where each ones name is read off and they are escorted down the isle by a child, grand child or husband. They are all dressed in white with hats and ulas (leis). There is a lot of singing, mostly in English and a lot of very long Samoan prayers. Several of the women get up and give their testimony, thankfully Asaua has one of his daughters come and sit with us to translate what is being said. Then they put on a few skits with dancing and singing and even costumes. At one point two of the ladies dress up like demons and they are beat up by the others. It was great, they were really good at stage falling. The crazy thing was they treated Jeremy and I like we were something special, we were the guests of honor. I know it was a sign of appreciation for coming to their church but it felt strange for both of us; as we generally try to blend into the crowd when we do not know what is happening, let alone try to draw attention to ourselves. However, Saomons simply treat guest with respect, which is nice. The oldest mother shook my hand during the parade, one lady danced in front of us and they gave me a gift in front of the entire church and I am not even a Mother. It does seem that their Mother's Day was more about being a wife than a mother, Asaua gave a sermon and it was about how the husbands should appreciate their wives.

After the lovely service we sat and talked with Asaua in his office while lunch was prepared. We went into their house and their children were preparing the food and setting the table even tough some of them were mother's too. Traditionally the older members of the family eat first then as each person is finished they leave the table for the younger family to come an eat. We sat down to a feast of fish, pork, a chicken soup, a steak dish, palusami (coconut wrapped in Taro leaf), bread fruit, taro, and rice. We both tried everything, I am not saying I am looking forward to a Samoan meal again soon but it was nice to be invited on such a holiday. After dinner we moved to the sitting area where we were served ice cream with pineapple topping. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, it was a great experience for us and helped us not to miss our Mama's so much.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Adventures of our first month

Sliding Rock

The first Saturday here a group took us out to Sliding Rock. It is a beautiful tidal pool set on a cliff where every so often a huge wave comes and pushes new water through the tidal pool. This is no puddle though it is a literal swimming pool; it is quite deep and probably about 20’ long and 10’wide. You can snorkel around and look at all of the neat fish swimming in there with you. The trip there and back was a bit slippery; you have walk, climb and slide your way across a rocky terrain for around 20 minutes before you get to pool. But it is so worth it.

Hanging out in the pool.

The trip there.

The POOL!!!

Climbing in as a wave comes through.
And yes it can carry you to the other end of the pool

Jeremy checking things out.

Larson's Cove

While Jeremy was off island in Hawaii for a week attending a two day conference I went out to Larson's Cove with a group of new friends. It is a secluded beach that is literally in a cove. The hike there is around 30 minutes long, for the most part it is walking along a "road" but there is a relatively steep rocky hill about half way through the hike, then you come out into a field that looks like the set of Lost where the grass is up to your waist. I am so glad there are not many snakes here, if you had walked through that in Georgia there is no telling what you would have come across. The beach is perfect and white and you can do some snorkeling there but the waves make it a little difficult. While we were there a group of Samoan men were fishing from a cliff, when they caught something the made a fire and started eating.

What looks like the Lost set portion of the trip.

We made it to the cove!

The other side mirrors this to make nice cove for swimming and a beach.

Setting up in the shade.

A pit stop on the ride home.

Very nice.

Palogi Beach

Palogi Beach is supposedly called this because only the white people are crazy enough to make the trip to this beach. When we go to the trail head a woman was walking by and told us we could not go to the beach and that if we did we would all be fined $500, so we asked if there was a Matai or Chief we could talk to about this and she told us where we could find them. So the guys went off the ask permission to go to the beach and the girls hung out in the car. The guys were turned down by 2 Matais but with persistent begging we were allowed to go. Now this is a hike, not like the first 2 places we went. This hike consits of walking along a jungle ridge with about 1 foot of path, wading through stomach deep water and climbing over rocks. It is a very rewarding trip though, you pass by 2 beautiful beaches before you get to the best one. We have a video that I will upload when I figure out how to do that. So we only have a few pictures of this trip since the camera died while we were there. Maybe we will be allowed to go back someday.

On the way there.

The Month of April

Our House 4/20/09

Our house is apparently very nice for government housing, even though neither of us is too sure about that. It is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with a laundry room and an open plan kitchen/living/dining area. I wish it were not quite so big, because that is just more to clean, but also more room for company! It is currently all white, floor, ceilings, walls, counters, appliances, and doors, seriously all white. But don’t worry I have big plans for a make over. All of the houses come with large lots so you have your “privacy”. There are Coconut palms and breadfruit trees and you can pretty much grow anything here. You just find some plant you like take a clipping, jab it into the ground and it will grow.

Our Puppy 4/20/09
Yes we already have a puppy. Her name is Annie, because she, like the orphan has had a hard knock life. We Palagis (said palongi) or white people, like dogs and take care of them, so some of the Samoans use our neighborhood like a pound for their unwanted puppies. So unfortunately after being here only a few days we saw puppies being kicked out of a truck across the street. We tried to grab them but they were too scared of people so they ran off. Later that night Annie showed up and we decided to keep her. Of course. I think she is a puppy straight from God, he knew we would need her. We had to leave or baby dogs, Layla and Draco behind and we miss them so much and Annie is our little distraction from that. They are in great hands, living in Pensacola with Justin and April and Mica. I know they are being loved and spoiled and will probably have more tricks than we could ever teach them. Justin is great at teaching dog tricks. I can’t wait to see Layla play Dead Bug.

Annie is a mess; literally, she is not what you would call a cute puppy. She is definitely not a Lab or Doberman Puppy but she has her moments. She has white fur with some light brown spots on her ears and face and then these black skin dots which I am wishing would make the transition in to black fur spots. She is like a Dalmatian on her skin but not on the fur. Not a great look. And the poor baby just can’t get fat we have had her about 2 weeks now and she has grow a ton but has not really gotten any meat on her bones yet. We are hoping she will fill in when she gets her puppy shots. She is very playful and loves to bite unfortunately. She also has a thing for dirty clothes; if they are on the floor she grabs them and takes them in the front yard. She does have very cute ears they stick up but one droops a bit like Draco's.

There is a dog problem on the island. There are tons of strays that are definitely not spayed or neutered so they just continue to multiply. Bob Barker should really know about this island. I am looking forward to becoming part of the Humane Society on the island so I can help take care of a little bit of this problem. Our Friend Kelly is the Vice President and helps organize a clinic once a year where Veterinarians come to the island and spay and neuter as many dogs as possible. I hope to be a part of the team this summer.
Our Sweet Layla and Draco
Frustrations 4/21/09
You cannot complete what seems like a simple task unless you first go through about five extra steps. For example: We wanted to get a PO Box, thought you could just go to the post office and fill out a form and then they would give you one. Nope Not so easy.
First visit: We go, stand in line, get to the front, and then are told we need to stand in the other line for that. We get there and the Post Master tells us to come back on Monday.
Second Visit: Ill put your name on a list and I will call you when one is available. Come back on Monday.
Third Visit: I go back on Saturday and they don’t do PO Boxes on Saturday.
Fourth Visit: Oh you have been here several times; I’ll get you one. It is like everything is a test to see if you will actually go through with whatever it may be. And I am seriously not exaggerating everything has steps. Maybe I will learn patience while I am here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We made it!

Well we have been here over a month and we have finally gotten our Internet! I had great intentions of starting this Blog before we left the main land but seeing all of our family and friends and taking care of wrapping up our lives in Jacksonville kind of became much more important. So we made it to American Samoa! After sad goodbyes, a long fun trip, and a terrible day in Honolulu we were very relieved to be here. This place is beautiful; for the most part everywhere you look there is something amazing to see. From where I am sitting in my living room I can see a huge jungle covered mountains and if I step outside and look down the street I can see beautiful clear water. We are excited to see everything and meet as many interesting people as we can while we are here.

Across the street from our house.

Our house