Saturday, August 4, 2012

Orientation is done!

Wow. So much has happened these past few days. Wednesday and Thursday were mainly spent doing chores and attempting to get everything set for my move out to Manu’a. I am now a proud owner of two bank accounts and an official American Samoa teacher certification (good for 3 years). 

Friday is when the fun began. We started the morning off with a hike in Fagatele Bay. It’s the marine sanctuary here in American Samoa. The school bus took us pretty far into the rainforest and then we had to hike from there. Here’s a pic of the school bus on its way out of dropping us off.

We were strait up off roading it in this thing. The hike was unbelievably gorgeous. While it was slightly challenging to hike back up the mountain, the hike down to the bay was great. The scenery was out of this world— the hike was full of exotic plants, flying foxes, lizards, and noisy birds.

When we finally got to the bay, this is what we found:

The bay is a marine sanctuary, so we were able to go out and snorkel to see everything. I snorkeled in about 30 feet of water over the reef and the water was clear blue.  It was unreal what I saw. I swam over baby barracudas and sharks (Can you believe it Zac and Courtney?!?!) I saw so many fish and the coral was beautiful. I guess where I’m going to be living is home to the largest Porites Coral in the entire world and NOAA is working to turn that part of the ocean off of Manu’a into part of the sanctuary in order to preserve it.

Friday evening we went to the local market. On the first Friday of every month they have dances, music, and vendors at the market and everyone goes down there to hang out. I had some Filipino dish for dinner as I watched some traditional Samoan interpretive dance. Friday night we went to a party to celebrate our last night of orientation. I met the local radio host named LJ (he said his real name, but said palagis could never pronounce it, so he’s shortened it) and he yelled at me for being a Lions fan. We then spent some time talking about Samoa and places that I should visit. He said that Manu’a is a wonderful place that I will love—although it may take some adjusting. It was great mingling with locals and actually getting to know them on a better level. This was the same party where I met a guy who is out here doing work for the telecommunications company. He is in his mid 20s, from Punta Gorda, spends his summers in Gaylord, and his mom graduated from Grayling High School. He mentioned that he was bummed he was missing the canoe marathon.  I could not believe it. Chances are we’ve been in the same place at the same time and we were just now meeting on the other side of the world.

Saturday I spent my last morning at Nu’uuli Vocational Technology High School. I realized that I never showed anyone what my life has been like the past few weeks, so here is a pic of where I had my morning coffee:
Also, here is me with the school sign. I had to get a pic—I mean, how often do you live out of a high school?
We spent our last morning having a nice breakfast at a restaurant called Sadie’s by the Sea. Here is a photo of my view while eating my breakfast:

Clearly life in Samoa thus far has been wonderful. The scenery is gorgeous, the people are friendly, and I’m loving what I’m doing.  With all that being said, I’m super anxious to get out to Fitiuta and be in my new home. This week is the Department of Education orientation. Monday is the opening ceremonies and Tuesday and Wednesdays will be spent on elementary school meetings. Either Wednesday or Thursday is when I will finally make it out to Manu’a/Ta’u/Fitiuta.  For the coming days I will be staying with two of my friends Sara from Connecticut and Josh from Texas. We spent the first night here getting to know the family that owns their land/houses. They treated us to Carl’s Jr. and tomorrow we will be having an umu for our official welcoming.

Only 9 days until my first day of school!  Yikes!

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