Tales of the Samoan Bard

When volunteers gather a wild story or two will always pop up. Living on your own in a foreign culture creates a unique and fun setting for everyday happenings. I believe its a disservice to not share a few of my favorites. The Samoan bard has arrived and he has stories to share.



Within the first two weeks at site, and not much to do until the school year began, a group of us decided to go swimming at a local waterfall on the island. It would be the third time I traveled on my own at site and I was down for seeing my friends I was missing already. I got on my districts bus and was happy to see I would get a window seat, as I had already learned that my bus would always be full and constantly late. Anyways, as the bus began to fill up everyone avoided the new palagi and sat elsewhere. At one point the bus stopped and I heard everyone start to whisper. I turned and saw a panting, extremely pregnant woman get on the bus. Everyone seemed uncomfortable with it, and of course the seat next to me was the last one open. 

bus-journey-samoaI smiled at her, but knowing that I speak next to no Samoan, I figured it best that I just stare out the window at the endless palm trees. Eventually she began to breathe louder and louder. Everyone on the bus began talking to her in Samoan in panicked voices. I have no idea what they said, but I’m assuming it was something along the lines of “don’t you dare have this baby on the bus. Why did you wait so long to go to the hospital?!?!” I continue to stare out the window as I have nothing helpful to add to the situation. Eventually the woman begins to cry and people are yelling. I stare at her and her massive stomach and everyone else and prepare myself mentally for what is about to happen. An oooollllllddddd woman eventually shuffles her way over and says something in Samoan. The pregnant lady nods, turns her body to face her, and spreads her legs. The oooolllllddd lady then shoves her hand up said lady’s vagina, nods, and says something in Samoan. Again, I am assuming she said something along the lines of, “she’s only ___ centimeters dilated.” Everyone calms down, the pregnant lady stops crying, and everyone pretends nothing ever happened….including me. Eventually we get to the hospital, the pregnant lady gets off and no one says anything, much to my disappointment. I wanted to cheer her on and thank her for not giving birth next to me on a crowded bus, but no one else seemed to care. So I just stared at the Palm trees again and wondered to myself if this is what my bus rides would be like for the next two years.


My family has been having a problem with rats for the past month or so, so we’ve started leaving fish out to attract cats to the house. We leave the doors open at night for the breeze, and every time we see a cat, my brothers cry, “Pusiiiii” (pusi means cat in Samoan) and run to watch it. Well, last night a cat actually came in to the house, climbed up on the table, and started eating some food that was there.Upon seeing this, my somewhat effeminate brother runs at the cat, scaring it away, then turned to me, wiggled his hand in front of his face (like a dance), and said, “be careful people, these pusis are wild.” It made me so happy. He’s the same brother that has twerked and silently pelvic-thrusted during evening prayer when everyone else’s eyes are closed.


The lady who runs the cake shop in my village has always made passing comments about throwing an apple at her husband’s head if he keeps bothering her. (or whatever she has in her hand at the time) She’s always adds, “you know I never miss”. In my mind I always thought she was blowing smoke. Today, we were sitting eating cake and drinking espressos, as a rat just saunters in. She starts freaking out, and we start looking for something to kill it with. This woman picks up a cone (like a foot tall orange cone) and I’m thinking to myself, um, really? She throws it from about 10 feet away, it perfectly rotates during flight that the bottom corner perfectly strikes the rat right on its tiny head killing it instantly. I was in shock (The cone even had the label “keep out”)
Are you Tom Brady?


I had to be at the ferry by 10am. I live an hour and a half or a 2 hours by bus to the wharf. but if I want to take the scenic route, there’s this bus that goes the long way around the island and it takes around 3 hours. I’ve made the ferry taking this bus before so I decided to take it. the whole time, the bus is basically empty, so I grabbed a window seat at the front of the bus and threw my headphones in and listened to some music for the ride. It was beautiful. The sun flickered through coconut trees, the wind breathed a steady ocean breeze throughout the ride and I chatted with the supokako (bus errand guy) for a bit.I got to salelologa (the village with the wharf) at 9:55am and I realized I didn’t have any cash for the ferry ticket. I pulled the string to get off in front of the bank and sprinted to the ATM and grabbed a wad of cash and started walking towards the wharf, hoping to grab one of the many taxis that are usually cruising around town.

I’m still looking for a taxi. Most days, these guys are just around in abundance. They’re constantly sitting around asking if you need a taxi or slowing down next to you and asking. This morning, however, none were in sight. I was a little nervous at this point because I was starting to think I was going to miss this ferry and I’d be late for my meeting in Apia. I ran go a shop next to the bank and bought a donut to make change, looking behind me at the road so I wouldn’t miss a passing taxi.

I finally saw a taxi with about a dozen pine tree air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. We locked eyes. He knew. I knew. I ran to him and practically jumped into his taxi–a potpourri of pine tree fragrances. He was wearing an aloha shirt and had beads in a little rat tail. His taxi was dense with the fragrance of vanilla, new car smell, Hawaiian breeze, and strawberry.

“Uafu, faamolemole! (Wharf, please!)”

“Ia. Okay. (Yeah. Okay.)”

Beads and I were driving leisurely to the wharf and he started asking me the basic questions like where am I from and where am I going. Then he put it together. He looked at the dash and sees the time. 10:04. He looked at me and asked if I’m trying to catch the 10am ferry. I nodded and laughed. he snapped his head back and yelled,

“Sole! (dude!)”

3ba815df2b5b2002882f3e47075a5ba5If this guy had NOS in his car, we would have been shooting flames on the pavement behind us. he sped past cars, buses, and trucks swerves into the wharf lot. I saw the ferry leaving the wharf as I slapped three tala into Bead’s hand while simultaneously jumping out of his taxi.

“Fa, sole! (See ya, man!)”

I sprinted to the ticket booth and the ferry workers see me and yell at me to hurry. So I had budgeted my round trip ferry fare and kept it in my bag, but in the rush of the moment, I threw my entire budgeted amount at the guy in the booth, which was double the price of a normal ticket. He saw I was flustered because I kept looking at the ferry leaving and I was clicking my fingers against the counter. He gave me change and a ticket and told me to hurry. I didn’t realize he shafted me out of 15 tala until later that day.

The ferry was now about 10 feet away from the dock and a group of Mormon missionaries are on the dock watching the ferry leave. I imagined a conversation in my head.

-Sorry, man. That sucks. You look so determined. So eager.

-But I’m here! I made it! I bought a ticket! I paid double!

-We don’t know what to tell you. So eager.

A ferry worker wearing bright yellow stood in the doorway of the ferry saw me and yelled,

“Lou ako! Lou ako! (your bag! your bag!)

Yellow was motioning for my backpack. He wanted me to jump. I had absolutely no time to think. I took my pack off and threw him my bag, my phone, and my wallet. For some reason, I was worried in that moment that my wallet and phone would fall out of my pocket and into the ocean during my jump.

I should have probably considered was that if I didn’t make this jump, this ferry was not going to turn around and return my things. No. It would go to other island as it was scheduled for and I would not have my bag, phone, or wallet. My desperation would not interfere with their efficiency.
At this point, everyone from the second and third floor of the ferry heard the yelling and were peering over the rails and watching me. They yelled things inaudible. The Mormons on the dock were smiling at me. Yellow looked at me, nodded and yelled,
“TAMO’E! (RUN!)”download
There really wasn’t anything left to do. All this happened so quickly. I took a few paces back and I heard all the voices and laughter now. They probably wanted to see me fall into the water. So eager. Hell, I would, too. I sprinted towards the ferry, now over 10 feet away. I jumped.
My right foot landed in the doorway of the ferry and my left foot followed. I made it. Yellow guffawed and grabbed my arm and then shook my hand. He handed me my bag, phone, and wallet like it was a trophy and a bouquet of flowers. I walked up the stairs and people were whooping and laughing and high five-ing me left and right. One guy high fived me and got distracted by my tattoos and grabbed my arm and examined it for a second. I obliged. I got to the top floor and was welcomed by this applause from Samoans and tourists alike. I smiled and waved and walked to an empty seat. I took one more look around and gave a final wave and nod to everyone and sat down.
I opened my bag and grabbed a coconut biscuit and took a bite, drank water from my flask and looked at the time, it was 10:08am. I put my phone and snack back into my bag and sank down into my seat and within minutes, I was asleep.

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