Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Manunu, First Impressions

June 17, 2007

Manunu is in the hills with the tallest Samoan mountain as a backdrop. The mountain is often cloud shrouded, picture postcard beautiful with deep forests on its slopes.

The village has about 200 people, consisting of three major families. Most of the houses, fales, form a circle around a large grassy area and playing field. The best constructed building in the village is the Congregational Church, or F.A.K.S.

Our host family, we think, consists of at least twelve people, ranging from 80 to 3 years of age. English is spoken by two man-woman, fafafine, rather well. I shall try later to explain the complexities of the Samoan family and our family in particular. However, all of had a difficult time determining just who was related to whom in our families.

Our fale is probably the newest and most atypical of those in which we are housed. It is a European style house with rooms and an indoor kitchen. Behind where we stay is a large traditional open fale where most of the rest of the family live. The toilet and shower are outside, but they have running water piped in from a nearby mountain stream.There is no washroom in the house and typically hands are washed at the table after eating, rather than before the meal.

Mary and I had fallen into a happy routine in the city of Apia where life appeared normal. English was commonly spoken, restaurant food seemed OK, and beer could be purchased. We had hot showers and easy language lessons. All that changed with our arrival in the Village of Manunu.

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