Bush-whacking and Spiders

Talofa from Samoa

A busy week of climbing hills in 33 degrees – I said “No more” after the first one – left Dennis to go bush-whacking with the Samoan boys and their machetes. Not before I had to drive the Prado over 4WD rough terrain with grass, weeds and vines up to the windows, and Dennis out in font with his machete checking for rocks!!!!

We are still on the lookout for suitable land for our Headquarters. Meanwhile we remain in Satupuala, near the airport, with an air-conditioned office we can’t run the air-conditioning in, but just fans to swish around the 33 degree heat during the day.

How would you like this to greet you in the shower?        

At night, we sleep out in an open fale where it is 26degrees and you can’t usually bear the sheet on you, let alone clothes. I seem to live in my lavalava in the day, wrapped around my body like an oversized handkerchief, and have it draped over me at night, under a mosquito net, and it is lovely to look straight out to the stars. When it rains, the rain comes straight down, so we only get splashes on the end of our feet, but that’s ok because it cools the air.

Only trouble is – can’t go anywhere dressed like that – you have to cover your shoulders for cultural etiquette, and wear something covering your knees too. So, it becomes hot – but generally bearable as we are never too far from the air-conditioned vehicle! And you just don’t go anywhere without mosquito repellant and a fan to keep yourself cool!

We cook over gas cookers (like fancy camping cookers) in our cooking fale, with wide mesh wire netting to keep out the larger animals (like cats, dogs, chickens, pigs and cows!) The rest are kept at bay with a variety of traps and baits and repellants.

Our typical meals are:

Breakfast – muesli, bananas or occasionally pawpaw, and powdered milk. If you think it is expensive in NZ – it’s astronomical here without any dairy herds.

Lunch – toasties with various leftovers – Dennis still loves to bake his own bread – and a fruit smoothie made with frozen bananas and other treats.

Dinner – typically Samoan – real chicken soup with noodles and some watercress for greens, or stir-fry meat and veges with rice. If we go out to the villages, we are treated to polusami – where coconut cream is seasoned and cooked inside taro leaves – quite yummy! And they eat taro here for any meal – I don’t, just a little to be polite when I have to.

Showers (at least three cold ones a day to keep your body cool) are usually shared with the giant African snails (about three times the size of a simple garden snail), some mosquitoes – usually short-lived with my snappy hands, and sometimes a 6cm (across body and legs) water spider. NEVER leave towels or clothes hanging on the hook – you are likely to be greeted by a large cockroach or worse when you collect them later!

We have a clean, flushing toilet, and toilet paper!!!! All this is paradise compared to what some of our friends have in their villages.

Hope you get the picture of a country coming out of the third world, recovering from a tsunami – balancing life with the west as best they can. EVERYONE has a cellphone (for most it is their only phone due to connectivity availability). Money earned (if they are fortunate enough to have a job) is equivalent to NZ$100 per week, but this is plenty to live on, with most having remittances sent from overseas by working family members in NZ and Australia – almost $1million a week comes into the economy this way.

Much more to share – but I’ll leave it for another day.