Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rainy, sweaty, buggy, beautiful!

About a month ago we woke up to arid mornings, dust storms, and cracking skin. Today we experience never-ending rain outside, sweat inside, and bugs everywhere. And lest I forget, beautiful beaches, friendly people, and lots of fun. In Idaho we had potatoes for dinner; now, papayas for breakfast. We, the Coletti's, are in American Samoa for a year while I clerk for the High Court of American Samoa.

We arrived on August 11, my brother's birthday. Our 9:40 pm arrival felt like 2:40 am to us. We instantly crashed in our hotel room. Complete with comfortable beds, air conditioning (extremely necessary), cable, and its own beach, our stay at Sadie's By the Sea was great.

Jaydn instantly picked up on a new hobby: Shell collecting. At the rate he is going, I am sure that by the end of our trip he will have collected more shells than he has toys.

Our family loves swimming. Nevertheless, American Samoa is not tourist-oriented. So, besides swimming at beaches, our other pastime is sightseeing. Depending on where you go, you can see beautiful scenes of waves topped by lush green mountains, waterfalls, etc. For our first week or two, we didn't have a car. So, to get around, we had to walk, take the buses, or hitch rides. Our first bus ride was quite an experience; the Samoans basically convert their pickup truck into a bus by attaching a metal box on the back. Each one has very unique colors and pictures, (and blaring Samoan music) and you'll never appreciate until you actually ride in one.

We met some friends on the plane from South Korea who gave us our first ride around the eastern side of the island. The main road on the island is extremely swervy, so most everyone drives at about 20-25 miles an hour. Mr. Lee drove 45 mph. He was friendly, but boy did he drive like a Korean!

After a few days in the hotel, we were ready to experience our new home. The old law clerks were moving out, and we were moving in. We knew a few things about the place before we arrived--we knew what it looked like from the outside, that its walls were screens, and that it generally looked pretty livable on the inside. However, we were unprepared for reality--our new home was essentially a tent with a hardwood roof. The wind blows through at all hours; you can't close a window. So, when it rains, you hear it (like you would in a tent), you hear every dog bark, every cricket outside, the lizards claiming their territory with their chirps, etc. Everything. I never knew that dogs could bark constantly for hours on end. What is there to talk about at 2 a.m. that is so important to dogs?

As you can see from the next picture, our windows are screens; if we didn't have our makeshift curtains, our neighbors would see more than they probably wanted to out of our house!

We have generally become accustomed to the sounds of rain, wind, bugs, etc. outside while we sleep. Even our full-size bed is difficult to come to grips with (the one above is Jaydn's), when we had a King in Idaho! Probably the hardest thing to cope with are the creatures that make their way into the house! Our first week we saw a cockroach approximately two-inches long. You had to hit it and hit it and hit it and HIT it before it died. Our second week, I almost stepped on a three-inch long centipede as I came out of the shower in the morning. Thank goodness I didn't; our neighbors show us their fang marks on their feet and explain how the centipede sting is the worst pain they have EVER experienced. Woe. Again, I had to hit it about thirty times before it died! And over the last few weeks, I have killed FOUR mice in the house. May I recommend to anyone with mice problems the sticky-traps; they really work, and fast! I took a picture of one of our furry creatures for posterity.

Needless to say, we have become avid creature hunters since we found this guy. On our first Sunday, we went to church. We are in Mesepa International Ward, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We were so elated to be there. It's that ever-so-familiar feeling of the Spirit that we were longing to feel the first few days. We definitely felt it there.

Finding a good car was a task. I don't know if we would have found one by now if I hadn't given in and paid higher than what we were looking for. We are so happy with the car we have now. We bought it from a former law clerk from the High Court!

On our second weekend, we went to 2-dollar beach. True to its name, the beach isn't free. We paid $2 per person to experience the beach. Who we paid the money to was tricky. The land is owned by a family, and different family units within the family were trying to get the money from me. One lady saw us drive up and said, "come pay me." I didn't have exact change, so she told me to go down the road to her cousin's house. There, her cousin told me to pay her. After I did so, the lady across the street said she was who I should pay, not those other ladies. I could see there was a rivalry in the family!

The beach was fun. A small island sat off from the beach by about 20 feet, and the ocean waves crashed around the island on both sides, creating a current that would pull you one direction, then the other, and back to the other. We got in some snorkeling, the first on the island. Jaydn loved it.

Well, it's getting late. I will continue tomorrow. Until then!


Brisbane Butterworths said...

Hi Colletti family. Our daughter came across your family's site when she entered "Elder Butterworth in Samoa" into Google - simply because we are interested in all things Samoan as our oldest son is currently serving his mission there. We were just so delighted (and surprised!!) to read about your visit to Olesega. Elder Butterworth had told us about your visit and he spoke about how enriching it was to have you visit that Sunday. It was wonderful to read your comments - thank you so much! Warm regards Jacqueline and Mark and family.

Brisbane Butterworths said...

Hi Colletti family
Our daughter came across your family's site yesterday when she entered "Elder Butterworth in Samoa" on Google - simply because our family is interested in all things Samoan as our son is currently serving his mission there. You maybe can imagine how surprised and delighted we were to read your comments about your visit to Olesega to attend church. Elder Butterworth had told us of your visit and how enriching it was to have you visit that Sunday. Thank you so much - Regards Jacqueline and Mark (Butterworth) and family.