Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend

Woke up at 4am my time to make a phone call via Skype with one of my mentors from Morningside at 4:30am (10:30 time back home). He told me he had seen this air freshener on my Facebook page and stumbled upon it in Target one day. Said he bought the candle and now has the scent of American Samoa and thinks of me every time. haha. Limited National Park addition. They have other ones, too, like Denali National Park (Alaska). My friend that originally posted this photo found it in Wal-Mart in Florida. Still kind of cool.

After our great conversation, I got my workout in for the morning. That was one reason it wasn't hard to wake up at 4am. I've been waking up at 5am 5 days a week, anyways. After showering up, I made myself breakfast at home. A nice short stack of pancakes (thanks to the aid of Bisquick, some frozen fresh fruit I had in the freezer (that nicely thawed sitting next to my warm pancakes), a little applesauce, and a few cups of coffee. Mmmmm. Delightful :-) I do really love a healthy breakfast.

After my breakfast, I continued to have a productive morning. I was waiting for a message from one of my fellow volunteers as a little group of us had plans to do a hike. I did some job and recipe searching for a while until I got the message they were on their way. The hike started later than we had originally planned. I started walking to our meeting place (about a 30 minute walk), but after 5 minutes this really guy Robert I met a while back and his boys picked me up and dropped me off at the intersection I was heading to. I had recently asked him to come in as a guest speaker. We are hashing out a day, but he is excited to come.

A group of 5 of us embarked on a hike to Massacre Bay. We hitched ourselves two rides in the backs of trucks up the mountain, where we walked down a road a ways to the trailhead. Down all the way to the bay on the north side of the island. A nice hike down, and I got to talk with one of my friends I don't see a whole lot of. Took us about 1.5 hours on the descent. Here we be - Massacre Bay. Some French people showed up in the bay unexpectedly, and the Samoans slaughtered them all. Hence the name. There is a little burial site. Somewhat of an eerie place. Way in the distance you can view Pola Island. I have now seen that cool spot from so many different angles, which is cool and interesting. The dimension of this island is so hard to explain and capture in photos.

I saw this flower in the water and couldn't help but grab a photo.

Another shot of the bay:

There is a family that lives down here, and it appears that they use a boat to travel around to Fagasa Bay whenever they would head into town. Can't imagine they would hike up the mountain each time. We did see their boat as we left.

Remains of what I assume may have been a small village at one point.

Found this cool piece of blue sea glass. I have a necklace with clear glass made by a friend of my aunt's. This looks like the perfect size; so, maybe one day I will have this one made into a necklace. A nice keepsake. Plus, blue is my favorite color.

While down in this bay I saw crabs of all sizes with all different colored shells. I've seen these mini hermit crabs before but keep forgetting to get a nice photo of some of them. See that green shell there that is smaller than my finger nail? A little hermit crab lives in there, and he is not even the smallest I have seen scurrying about. Some are the size of a pinhead. Amazing! Then, on the other end of the spectrum, I got the crap scared out of me by a yellowish crab with a head the size of a soup bowl. Wowza. I was walking along some lava rock when this big guy scurried out a dark corner and down a hole. No photo but believe it!

Finally headed back up the mountain. Probably could have only taken about 1.5 hours again. Some finished it in that time, but I went at a slower pace with one of my friends. I wasn't tired at all when we reached the top, not even breaking a sweat. It's nice to go slower at times and enjoy the sounds around us. I won't always have rainforests in my backyard to go walking through any time I please. So peaceful :-)

Here is a shot I took of a spider web with some great timing on light. Spider webs are hard to photograph without the right lighting.

Some cool vines in the forest. Isn't biology simply amazing sometimes. These are hard vines - like wound tree branches.

Another botanical photo. Check out how the stem swirls around on this plant.

The trail to Massacre Bay starts near this house on top of the mountain. Check out that view.

The dog there sorta barked at us, but he was more so barking at the trees for some reason when we walked by. His neighbors, though... they were a bit more annoying. They weren't stopping when I pretended to throw rocks, and I ended up grabbing some flowers (hard flowers) off a plant and chucked them. That did the trick. Beth thought it was hilarious that I threw flowers. Had to improvise, and it worked. haha Only in Samoa do I throw hard flowers off a tree at a dog that is thinking about coming after me.

Speaking of only in Samoa... After we made it to the top, we lucked out right away with a truck that was leaving this little farm place. A real farm with a small cattle pasture. That was cool to see up here on the mountain. Right away I noticed the stench of farm in the back of the truck. Noticed these sacks in the back, and then started to hear what sounded like wheezing. "Is that the truck? Wait, is there something in that bag? Aaah, not gonna think about it. Smells so lovely back here. haha" Grabbed our companions that were waiting at the store, and as we were descending the mountain in the back of this truck, we all finally realized there indeed was a pig in this sack. A wheezing pig, so not completely dead yet. Oye. Melanie freaked out a little, all a tad weirded out, joked about it, and said "Life's just not going to be the same when we aren't riding in the back of the truck with someone's soon-to-be Easter dinner." Well... that was... an experience. Thankful for the ride, nonetheless. Especially since we departed the top of the mountain at 6pm.

 Made it back home, enjoyed a little peanut butter sandwich, got into a book, and then hit the hay. 4am-10pm. Good full day. I had put a post up on Facebook before the hike talking about things I had done already that day, and Beth did make a comment when we started hiking that it sounded like I had a productive morning. Indeed :-) Then, a nice hike with some new experiences.

Woke up around 6am, Skyped with my brother and dad before getting my morning workout in. Insanity Round 2 Week 1 complete. I hadn't Skyped with my brother or dad in a while, so that was great to see them and chat. After my workout and a breakfast including banana bread I purchased from a bakery and half an orange, I Skyped a little with my mom. I also made a batch of no-bake cookies that I wanted to give Pastor and Richard for coming into my classes and being welcoming. They ended up a little chewier and stickier this time, so I ended up rolling them in powdered suga, afterward, which worked well. I have a photo of one later in this post.

Had tentative plans to do a little snoerkeling and hiking with a few of my fellow volunteers again, and as I got the message they were ready to go, we met up about 11am in Futiga. Walked back to Fagalua Cove, where we snorkeled a bit. Nice high tide, but it was a little rough. I hadn't gone snorkeling in several months, and I finally did not really endure problems with my mask. Huzzah! Snorkeling still isn't really my thing, but it was nice to have another good experience with it for the most part. It's a weird feeling swimming around, making sure I can see someone else, being brought back 5 feet, and then gliding up and over with a wave. Ended up catching my knee on a piece of coral it seems. Bled a little, and it looked a little irritated. No big deal. Brought me back to memories of my first time snorkeling ever, when I was in the Galapagos. I still have scars from that day. Memorable scars :-)

In this photo, you can see my scar that is forming from my fall at Nu'uuli Falls back at the beginning of the year on the left. Down toward the right is my scratch from the coral that is healing up no problem.

Then, Beth, Jill, and I hiked down to Sliding Rock. I've done this two other times, but this was one of the cooler times on the trail itself. Nice little breeze to add to the shaded trail. Look at all the pretty blues in this photo. A few nice view points along the trail in addition to the calming walking through the forest. Fagatele Bay can be seen to the left.

Here's a crab that was posing nicely with his green shell.

Made some biscuits for the Easter lunch I was preparing for my roommate and myself the next day after showering from my outting. Been a while since I have kneaded some dough. I had some fun with it. haha

I am dressed up in that photo as we were soon to be picked up by Brandon (came in and spoke about FieldHouse100) to attend the Easter Service at Tafuna Baptist Church, where his brother is the Pastor, and some our Baptist teacher friends teach on the campus. After finally meeting Brian in person a little over a month ago, I've been wanting to check out their church service and this was finally the perfect opportunity.

Before heading out, Hannah and I decided to share a little "snack". I had put together one more ice cream cake experiment last weekend, which you can see on the left in this photo. Bottom to top: layer of Grandma Wingert's sugar cookie crumbs, chocolate ice cream, crunchy peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, chocolate cookie crumbs (from my friend Megan teaching on one of the outer islands), Butterfinger shavings, and an Easter egg malted milk ball on top. On the right of my plate, you see one of my no-bake cookies with the powdered sugar.

Really glad we went to their Easter service. They had this extra one the night before, as they were joining some of the other Baptist churches in their association for their bigger sunrise service Easter morning. We sang some more contemporary songs. I enjoy both contemporary stuff and classic hymnals. The way they had the lyrics displayed on the projector and one led the songs reminded me a lot of going to the Campus Ministry service at Morningside my senior year. I enjoyed it. Then, Brian delivered his message, which was nice. I felt great and was thankful to be there. I think I may go back a few more times, too, in addition to the church I've been attending thus far. It was also nice to chat with some of our friends there afterward during refreshments, which included various baked goodies.

Came home, and did a little more baking. Wanted to prepare one more thing for my Easter lunch with my roommate before going to sleep, as it would take too long after coming home from church on Sunday. Didn't fall asleep til after 10:30, I'd guess. Then, I woke up at 4:30am to prepare the main course for our lunch. I knew I would probably arrive home until around noon and didn't want us waiting on it. This was the first time in a while that my alarm woke me up in the middle of a deep sleep, so I wasn't ready to wake up yet. Onward, though. I chopped everything up, prepared it, and left it in the fridge for Hannah to pop in the oven around 11:30, which worked out well.

The church van picked me up around 5:45 for the 6:30 sunrise service. After the sunrise service, we had a little community breakfas at 8am. Only in Samoa does a potluck breakfast including all of the following: chocolate chip cookies, mini cheeseburgers, banana bread (in the shape of a pie), Filipinpo sweet rice, pork and beans with sausage, and cocoa rice. Quite the array. Haha, seriously. The first two listed make me laugh the most. I enjoyed a cup of cocoa rice, two slices of the banana bread, tried the sweet rice (good stuff), and a cup of hot chocolate.

Then, we had the Sunday School lesson time at 9am (usually 9:30am). My friend Lilian had started the coffee pot through again around 8:35 or so, as she and her sister needed a little pick-me up. Coffee sounded good, but man that pot was slow... "Maybe it'll be ready between Sunday School and regular church service." After the second to last lesson Richard has on metaphors (good stuff, by the way), the hazlenut coffee was ready. Mmm. Hit the spot. I found myself a litte droopy as I had woken up early and now had just been sitting, not using my muscles. Finally, our last service for the day from 10am-11:45am. Yep, marathon of church for me this Easter Sunday.

Now, time to see my little experiment for Easter lunch. Tried some new stuff. Main course: oven-roasted vegetables with a biscuit. The recipe I found called for potatoes, veggies, and olive oil. I changed it a bit. It was already nice and healthy, but I had a few ideas... I used potatoes, cucumbers, string beans, apples, and banana pieces I cut up. Then, instead of covering in olive oil I used apple sauce. Mmmm. Turned out well. Fun experiment. I did find myself thinking like a culinary chef, though. The plate needed a little more color. The color of the components vanished as they baked.

Then, for dessert. I had baked this papaya crisp the night before. We had talked about trying this for a while. Can't get papaya back home and thought it would be cool to try making a papaya crisp... you know, like apple or peach crisp. Success :-) Added a little scoop of vanilla ice cream as it was served.

Then, I spent most of the afternoon laying around in my bed. I really was beat. Dozed off and on and then found the stuff I needed for my Monday lesson. Worked on my blog, and now I am ready to go back to some relaxing. Perhaps finish watching the movie I started before I started dozing off. Hope you all had a nice weekend. Back to work we go.

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