Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top 10 Things We Will NOT Miss About Samoa

When you make a list of all the things you will miss; you have to also make a list of all the things you will NOT miss.  There has to be opposition in all things.  Now presenting - The top 10 things we will NOT miss about Samoa:

#10 - We will not miss "metered internet" - The Church buys 2 Tb of data for all Church use (meetinghouses, family history centers, Temple, PBO service center, 3 schools, self-reliance and senior missionaries).  For example, each ward is allowed 7 Gb, each stake is allowed 14 Gb, we are allowed 7 Gb.  Now, you may think this is fine, but on a good month it keeps us going for about two weeks and that's without any FaceTime with the kids.

#9 - We will not miss "shopping in hot stores, especially grocery stores" - There is no air conditioning in stores and from the minute you walk in until you leave, you sweat!  I kind of know where the things are that I need to buy and so you quickly go get what you need and leave.  That is until you have to search for something you found last time you were there and have to ask a clerk to get the answer "finished".  Meaning no more until the ship comes in and then it's a maybe.

#8 - We will not miss "raised crosswalks" - We just get up to speed (or slightly over)and then there's a raised crosswalk so we have to slow down.  Now we are only going about 25 miles an hour, but if you hit these too hard you get thrown all over and it puts your head on the ceiling and your butt lands ever so roughly back into the seat.

#7 - We will not miss the "5:30 a.m. rooster alarm" - Enough said.  In Jamaica I asked for a BB-gun; here I've really wanted one, also.  Dang rooster!

#6 - We will not miss "all night dog barking parties" - Starting about 10 p.m. the dogs form into gangs and go looking for a female dog in heat.  When they find one it's a barking, howling, fighting good time- for them.  For us, it's hide your head under your pillow time.  Along with this, just dogs in general.  Most of the dogs are strays, under-nourished, mean and just plain everywhere you walk, drive, eat, and live.

#5 - We will not miss "gecko poop" - In every clerk office on every island there is a resident gecko. They seem to like the additional warmth inside our internet cabinets in the clerk's offices.  There have been so many times that we open the clerk office door and the gecko falls down in front of you - scares you out of your lavalava!  Then we have to test the printer and scoop gecko poop off the sheets of paper before letting it prints a page.  After each office visit we use a 'Handiwipe' or two.  Not going to miss these fellows one bit.

#4 - We will not miss "dealing in cash" - Our VISA card gets used about three times a month when we go to the ATM.  We are restricted to a cash withdrawal of $1200 tala (about $480 USD); the service fee for Samoa is $15 tala and the service fee for foreign currency exchange is $1.50 USD.  However, the ATM usually gives us $100 tala bills, which no one except the hot grocery store can change.  What we really need are $10 tala bills; everything around here when you ask the price is $10 tala - beach parking because the family owns the beach, a pumpkin (squash), a lavalava from a street vendor, etc.  Wow, looking forward to third-degree plastic burn, my hands are healed.

#3 - We will not miss "driving 25 mph" - Give us a good old freeway, 80 mph, and we will be in heaven.  As I said in #8, you just get up to speed and then you slow down for the raised crosswalk or a pig, or chicken.  One day we decided to keep track of how far we drove.  We were going from Apia to the East side of the island.  Total miles driven about 40, total hours of driving time about 6 hours.  No one builds up enough speed to get rid of the carbon in the engine - we breath all that when the bus in front of us backfires.

#2 - We will not miss "filthy, cluttered clerk offices" - This is where we do a lot of our work on a daily basis.  We work among the collections of 1995 Relief Society manuals and every other year in between for every other organization, the chapel keyboard, the sacrament cloth and trays, at least 2 suit coats (they leave them here and wear them on Sunday - it doesn't matter whether you wear a blue ea and a black suit coat or a green ea and a dark blue coat), soggy paper, donation receipts from who-knows-how long ago, membership record printouts, some left-over food or bags of welfare food from time to time - large bags of rice, garbage, ants, fleas, and termite dust.  Sometimes I just want a good scoop shovel.  Last week we installed a new computer in a clerk office and the clerk was there.  I disassembled the old one and took it off the desk; then I told the clerk to go get a wet and dry paper towel.  He looked at me like - what?  I then said I clean off the desk before I put the new computer back on.  He caught on, got the paper towel, held the cardboard box garbage container for me to scrape the gecko poop into and then he (on his own) went and retrieved a broom and swept the floor.  Oh, how I wanted to get a big garbage container and show him where he could really put all the other things in the office.


Now, the #1 thing we will not miss is "Taxis" - I'm going to let Theron write this one.  I have heard 17 months of how he hates taxis!  It's not good listening material.  Here you go Theron -

I've traveled in 50-60 countries in this world and have ridden in quite a few taxis.  I've been tailgated by taxis, passed by taxis, and intimidated by taxis.  I've seen my wife terrified by the speed and daring exhibited by taxi drivers getting us to our destination.  I've followed taxis as they have helped to move the traffic out of my way as I hurried to many airports. . . . .  but not it Samoa.

In Samoa, taxis have an entirely different mindset - a mindset that is not just indicative of the relaxed tempo of life on a Pacific island, but its basis!  Taxis in Samoa travel VERY slowly down the road when they are empty as they are looking for a prospective passenger.  Okay, maybe I can understand this as it saves them in fuel, and you wouldn't want them to miss a fare.  But the problem is that when they have a fare they travel just as slowly IF NOT SLOWER!  This would make sense if they charged by the amount of time customers spent in the taxi, but they don't, they charge by the mile or kilometer!

Okay, maybe they try to give the customer the smoothest ride possible.  However, those bumps and dips in the road seem a lot smoother when I travel fast enough to let the car's suspension do its job.  The only other rationale I can come up with is, "its a conspiracy against me".  I don't buy into many conspiracy theories but I have no other explanation for their behavior.  I know as soon as I leave the island the taxi drivers will align with the rest of the world's liverymen and drive like mad, or at lease like any self respective taxi should.

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