Monday, January 4, 2010

"Taps" for Samoa


My last Samoan sunset from Aggie Grey's Resort where the sun disappears into tomorrow, on the other side of the International Date Line.
It is time to sound "Taps". My Peace Corps adventure and mission in Samoa is over. It is time to return home, knowing that something has happened by coming here for both my wife and me, but not to understand or appreciate the totality of the experience.

I don't think much harm has been done, maybe even some good. Man's quest to seek greener pastures seems universal, never satisfied that being alive is enough quest by itself.

I am glad and fulfilled to have returned a second time, to follow-up, and to know it is time to move on and call it a day. Then again, there is the adventure of tomorrow.
As with any adventure, it is the people who linger in your memory. Here are just a few:
Group 78
Our Peace Corps Trainers still label our Group 78 as one of the best ever. Maybe they see something that the rest of us missed. Certainly we hold the highest rate for early terminations. The group is now dispersed throughout the world. The road of life is a long one, Samoa just a chapter.

Leaving LAX bound for Samoa (June, 2007).

Front: Crystal Ochoa , Safiya Mitchell, Mary Shuraleff, Hannah Goldman, Erin Jenkins, Renee Moog, Kaitlin Everett

Rear: Shane Twilla, Justin Newum,NickShuraleff , Jacob Burney, Mark Miller, Benjamin Harding, Christian Heath, Paul Sylvester, Donna Barr

Prior to Group 78's Samoan Dances at Training Village Graduation (August, 2007)

End of Service Conference (May, 2009)

Training Village, Manunu

Training villages are a special place for Peace Corps, and ours is no different. The small mountain village of 100 people, Manunu, is where our impressions of our Samoan life formed. Manunu has since become the training village for Group 82 and is rumored to be the training village for more groups in the future.

Manunu Village Green

Saniatu Waterfall, a short walk from Manunu, the most beautiful place on earth

Our Iva Host Family, the Kapeli's

Living two years with a family of a different culture is the true test of adaptability for them and you. There needs to be a willingness by both parties to roll with the peculiarities, a respect for each other, and a bonding, which neither can fully understand.

Since Samoan families are ever evolving, changing, and related, there is no way to get a picture of the same people at different times

September, 2007

August, 2009

December, 2009

Our namesakes, baby Nicholas and Mary with Kapeli daughter, Easter, and father, Visi.
August, 2009

The Children of Samoa

No one can leave this place without the vision of children dancing in your dreams. It is a magical time of life in a magical place. May the magic stay with them as they mature, for they have given me a magic I wish all could share.

Baby sitting sisters

Sisters, with a cousin or two

Boys at play

Mango season

South Pacific innocence

Death of a sister

Children at work, selling fish

Iva rugby team, future matai (heads of households)

Adult snapshots

Ross, Mayor of Lalomalava, with son bidding my farewell at ferry.

Fia in her cabbage patch

George, the tragic Samoan chief

With my alter-ego, the President of the Women's Committee

Leona with donated bike

Ah, the good life! A Vailima beer, and a friend at the break of day.


There is no way one can capture or try to convey experience. It is up to the imagination and memories to reconstruct the past. As for the future, it has to drag along the past. We all have a book to write. I guess I am not ready to write mine. So it is goodbye to our Peace Corps adventure, the morn is at hand for a new adventure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

whey is George the tragic Samoan matai?