Monday, October 29, 2012

Innercity School and Tattoo Festival

Walked into the cafeteria Friday morning, and realized I forgot to mention this in my post from Thursday. There was some graffiti on the cafeteria floor that was not there the day before. This is a reminder that I am working at what is the innercity school of this island. Can't say I ever remember walking into Newman Grove High School to find any vandalism. Have I mentioned that drawing on desks is a problem here? Several of the desks that I started with in my room already were covered in  drawings, village names, and such. Students have added since. Some I have caught in the act, but often I do not notice it until after a period has ended. I've had my soapbox speech on this a couple of times saying vandalism shows disrespect to the school and others' property.

Caught the early Tafuna bus again Friday morning. Good thing, too, as there was quite a bit of rain coming down Friday morning. Did our slideshow of science word projects in Earth and Space Science, which everyone enjoyed before we did a little introduction into the Earth-Sun-Moon system. Spent some time talking about mangrove environments (which are water forests in the tropic regions). I thought of Newman Grove many times today not because we have mangroves, but it simply sounds like the name.

At lunch, we saw a car in the nearby parking area that had a window broken. Looks like someone took a brick to it. More vandalism. Oye. I did see security escorting some boys to the office on my walk to the cafeteria. That's a not so positive thing I'm around. It doesn't really affect me or anything, just something I'm around.

On a different note, but still a cultural difference, it did not take me any time getting used to seeing men and boys in skirts. Wasn't even weird from Day One, although you may have expected so. Just what they do here. It is called an "i'e" (pronounced "e a"). That reminds me of another thing I found myself thinking about today. Well, I've thought about it many times, but don't think I've written it in the blog yet. Fingers.... fingernails... boys and girls paint their fingernails - not all of the time, but it's been different for me to see so many boys with fingernail polish on - black, red, pink, orange. all sorts of colors. I have also seen some long fingernails here. Random little bits of information about life here.

I was in an exceptionally good mood all day Friday. Nothing going to swipe that smile off my face. Several of my students noted I was rather happy. Here's what I told them. I am happy today because (1) it's Friday, (2) I'm wearing my new sneakers, (3) we're looking at our photo project, (4) I was heading to town to pick up my new camera that came in the mail after school, and (5) I was heading to the tattoo festival Saturday for some cultural experiences. Lots of reasons to be happy.

When I made it home I almost didn't work out, but then I knew I would feel even better after I did at least something. Too many people home to do my workout video in my room. You can hear me through the floor on the first level. haha I decided I'd jog up the hill. Made it to the top, started walking back down and decided to jog back up after I passed the guys' house. Then, I did a few run up, walk back down over a section. Reminded me of track practice freshman year of high school. We did sprints up that hill on the corner of the street where I live in Newman Grove heading toward the football field.

Then, Hannah made us dinner. She had bought some lentils and wanted to experiment. We ended up having lentil, mixed vegetable, and potato soup with a side of cooked apples. Not quite like the ones my mom makes but were still pretty good. While Hannah was experimenting with dinner I did a little experimenting. I ended up with peanut butter, honey, cereal balls. Actually pretty good after they we let them chill in the fridge for a while. Experiments were successes Friday night.

I started reading a book I really got into this week around 9:30pm. Next thing I knew it was 11pm, and I kept on reading until about midnight. Been a while since I've done that, but hey it was Friday and a really good book :-) Was a surprise in one of the recent packages from home.

Saturday morning I knew I wanted to at least do a little workout, and I decided on a ladder set of some ab exercises. Started working up a sweat in my room with that one before showering, eating some, and heading to the East side. We went out to Tisa's Barefoot Bar for the Tattoo Festival with our Florida friends (the guys) in their truck. It's abut an hour drive to Tisa's.

Here's a few shots of the location just for fun. I was really enjoying having my little camera again. So excited to finally have it after ordering it a few weeks ago. Crazy how much clearer the image is on the little LCD screen, even though my other one was only about 4 years old.

At the tattoo festival I was able to watch some of the traditional tapping tattooing going on. It's amazing how precise they can be with that method. Must take lots of practice. Tattoos are a big thing here, especially these traditional tattoos. You see them all the time - malo (artwork on and around the knees of females), pe'a (artwork that goes from the man's waist toward his knees), arm bands, leg bands, and ankle bands. Some are done with the tattoo machines like you would picture, but the traditional way is the tapping. Cool to see. I have a video, but it doesn't want to upload. Might be too big of a file now that I have this higher quality newer camera. If you're interested I'm sure you can google the process and find it or just wait til I'm back in June, and I'll show you the video.

This traditional Samoan style tattoo is done by hitting a comb made out of boar's teeth into the skin repeatedly with a mallet. The design is completely free-handed. My friend Melanie had one done on Sunday and she had no idea what it looked like until it was done. All of the patterns mean something, but we're not quite sure what yet. Here is a photo of Mel's tattoo - a thigh band:

Here are some photos of the tools:

This is Tisa, the owner, who also happens to be an environmentalist. This was the 9th Annual Tattoo Festival - all started by her. Her husband Candyman, built the bar and is from Australia.

Her'es a couple guys with a bunch of the traditional tattooing, who participated in the kava ceremony at the opening of the festival.

This is Miss American Samoa who also participated in the kava ceremony. Kava is a ceremonial drink.

Here's a couple girls who did some traditional siva (dancing). I was really excited about seeing some of this cultural stuff while at the festival, so I'm really glad I was able to go.

Frank let me drive the truck home, which took us longer than an hour as we stopped for some burgers (well, I just ate some fries, cole slaw, and part of the bun). Hannah and I shared a meal. I also had to make several stops to drop everyone off at their respective homes. We had a full truck  leaving Tisa's. Then, I came home and finished reading my book. My mommy knows me so well. Thanks for sending Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I couldn't put it down, as you will have noticed in this post. Will be another great addition to my bookshelf at home (a handmake bookshelf by my grandpa, by the way). It felt really good to be so enticed in a good book again since I hadn't been reading much while I've been here other than Tuesdays with Morrie.

At Church on Sunday part of the message was about being stewards of God's creation, a rather cool topic for me. I found myself two steps ahead of the message as we went. This was actually presented during Sunday School time, not regular service. I was also able to Skype with my brother for a bit on Sunday in between church services, which was nice. I also got my workout in for the day - "Tight Buns and Killer Legs" and ladder set of ab exercises.

I've been meaning to take a photo of some of the beautiful flower arrangements that some ladies from church put together that sit up on the altar. Since I have my new little camera, I took it along with me to night service and took a few photos. Aren't they beautiful? There are little stands that sell arrangements like this that I alway see on the weekends along the road. All plants grown here, I do believe.


  1. WOW that Festival looked so Colorful and interesting. What a great opportunity to experience the culture. I greatly dislike vandalism. Something I got from Grandma :) It really makes me mad when people deface others property. Hopefully, the kids will learn a lesson from you.....

  2. Hi Jessica, My name is Gary Wondercheck, I am also from Newman Grove. My wife and I were missionaries at Alofa Tunoa (Pastor Elia Tavai) in Leone, American Samoa about 10 years ago. My wife taught at Tafuna while we were there, and my son Chenaniah (Fa amaoni) was born there in the (one) hospital :) Anyway, enjoy your time there, and go visit Alofa Tunoa and say Talofa Tele Lava for us!! -Grace & Peace, Gary