Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ava Ceremony, Pig roast, and Cooking

The first day we got into Apia we came strait to our hotel, which is actually the same building that houses the Peace Corp office. It is a really nice place, air conditioning, sometimes warm showers and nicest of all its clean and there aren’t many bugs. It’s a far cry from how I will be living in a couple of weeks but the Peace Corp is gradually introducing us to our new lives. We have two weeks in the hotel studying, three months in a training village with four other volunteers, then off to our permanent villages will we will be the only volunteer. I’m sure by then I will be ready for the millipedes and rats; well…. at least prepped for battle. When we got here we were introduced to the staff that will be training us and started to prepare for our welcome ceremony. This is the Ava ceremony. The Ava is a shredded and dried root that they strain water repeatedly through. It is drunk out of a coconut and can numb you tongue and definitely give you a bit of a buzz. We had to learn a toast, then the elders gave prayers, speeches, and drank to us and we drank to them. It was really cool and it was fun learning the Samoan cheers. It was also the first time we met some of the return volunteers. Blakey 81 led the ceremony and made the Ava in a beautiful traditional Samoan dress. They all seemed so cool and I was a bit star-struck as I had been following their blogs, and they had become semi-celebrities to me. That night we had a welcome dinner with all the traditional Samoan dishes; a whole roasted pig, coconut milk baked in taro leaves, bread fruit, fish wrapped in banana leaves, and roast pumpkin. It was mind blowing; everything was so juicy, fresh and tasty. I have decided that eating like this for four years may not be such a burden, and now I know why Samoans like their food so much. The next day we had a bunch of intro classes on phrases, security, and just general stuff for getting around in the city. That night a couple of volunteers and I went to the market and picked up a bunch of food to make dinner for everyone. We pan fried delicious fish, roasted pumpkin, and stir fried eggplant, taro, string beans, and onions. Another delicious meal and fun bonding as a group. We have all started to get really close and it seems like we want to do everything together. Someone mentions lunch or going into town, and it seems like almost always all twenty of us find some way to accompany them. You can’t imagine the impact twenty laughing American walking down the street have. I am loving Samoa and loving the people. The gender and society roles are still a little blurry and it’s going to take time getting used to but I’m sure I can do it.

For pics see matt's blog!

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