Monday, April 30, 2012


If you were to ask any Samoan on this island what their favorite food is, I bet you $500 that they would say some kind of meat. Samoans love meat more than the average person. No meal is complete without it. Vegetables? What are those?

In this post, I am going to explain to you how much meat is loved on this island. (Sorry if you’re a vegetarian!)

My very first meat experience that I remember is on the day that I first moved to Leone. Our landlords were having a party with their church and as Abby, Amber, and I sat down amongst a fale Samoa full of Samoans, we were each handed a gigantic plate of…meat. Okay, there might have been some rice, but the plate almost fell out of my hands because it was so heavy. Barbecued chicken, sausage, and other mysterious types of meat surrounded a small round of rice. I can remember thinking, where am I?
From there on out, getting handed plates of meat didn’t surprise me as much. It’s just what Samoans eat and what they love.

Only in American Samoa do trucks drive by you with a cooked pig in the bed. As Abby and I were walking to do laundry once, that is literally what happened. A small truck drove by with two men sitting in the back holding a gigantic cooked pig. Abby and I just busted out laughing which made the Samoans laugh too.

Only in Samoa do they pick pigs out by size. Just yesterday, I asked a friend a completely normal question: “What size pig did you have?” He responded, “Size two.” Of course.

Only in Samoa does the freezer section of grocery stores have a ridiculous amount of meat. I’m talkin’ freezer after freezer of it. Just about every kind of cut/slice/chop/section/part you could possibly want.

Only in Samoa do kids crack up laughing when someone mentions sausage. They start hyena laughing and then the jokes start. They also call each other the Samoan word for sausage to poke fun. Yep.

Only in Samoa am I randomly handed two gigantic hot dogs in the middle of class. Thank you? I handed them off to a couple students and within 10 seconds, there was no sign that hot dogs ever entered my classroom.

Only in Samoa do they have a type of meat called a turkey tail. Um, it just sounds gross, doesn’t it? Actually, it is more than gross. It is extremely unhealthy due to its very high fat content. Interestingly enough, Western Samoa banned the importation of American turkey tails but recently lifted the ban last November so they could be admitted to the World Trade Organization. What the?

Read this if you are interested:  It makes me so sad that the United States has such a big part of the obesity, diabetes, and general health problems of the Pacific Islanders.

And now for a few pictures (you must understand that this blog would not be complete without them...)

Abby and I walked into a grocery store and this was in the freezer section. That would be a pig, barely wrapped, unsanitary, just chillin there. [See what I did there? Hehehe]

The fish section.

What is luncheon loaf? I probably don't want to know.

This time we've got luncheon meat. Pork and Chicken. Yum, just what I want for tonight's dinner.

Potted? Really? That makes it sound ten times worse. Sick.

This is our neighbor boy's favorite. What a treat...especially the lite option!

Samoans buy these and eat them on-the-go. Delish.

I hate the word corned. Just sounds nasty, doesn't it? Especially when you combine it with the word mutton. 

Mmm corned beef, a South Pacific delicacy. Samoans make a dish called pisupo. Open the can, pour the contents into a skillet with oil, add some onions. Delicious combination of fat, sketchy meat, and oil.

[As you can see, I'm not the biggest fan of pisupo.]

No comment.

I'm sure if I was Samoan, my favorite food would be fried chicken or sausage. Meat is normal here and no meal is complete without it!

Okay now I’m starting to get grossed out thinking about meat this much. Ha. This post is uma (finished). 

It's Teacher Appreciation Week at school. I've been here approximately 10 minutes and I've already been bubble gum ula-ed. Seki a.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Off to a good start

On my walk to school today, I caught up with a couple underclassmen. As they told me how much they wanted to visit Hawaii and Alaska, one girl, out of nowhere, asks me:

"Are you a real American?"

I laughed. Why yes, yes I am.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Palagi! Palagi!

You know what's cute?

Samoan kids.

School got out at 2:00 today and as I started my walk home in the awful, scorching sun, an empty school bus pulled up next to me.

"Want a ride to the bus stop?"

"Yes, please!"

We drive a little further and the driver says that we have to pick up some of the elementary school kids.

As each child got on the bus, their eyes lit up at the sight of me, "Hi palagi!" "PALAGI!" "Hi." "Bye." "Hi Mrs. Quinn" (How they know my name, I really do not know.)

Some stared, others giggled. They were amazed when I asked them how their day was. Who knew a palagi could talk?!

As I hopped off the bus, they all yelled, "BYE PALAGI!"

I walked away from the bus laughing and feeling so, so happy that I am where I am at this point in my life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flag Day

Malo lava! It’s been a while, and I apologize for the lack of blogs this month. You would think that I would eventually run out of things to do and see on this island, and sometimes even I think that, but really, that’s not true at all. If you’re creative and willing to do anything, American Samoa can entertain  you in so many ways.
Since my last post, I have been crazy busy and I haven’t even really gone to school! This past Tuesday was Flag Day in American Samoa. Up until Monday, I had no idea what that even meant. Oops. Turns out that Flag Day celebrates the day that the United States flag was first raised on the island. In other words, it is a perfect reason to not go to school, right? The Governor made Tuesday AND Wednesday national (island?!) holidays so I only had 3 days of school this week.
The festivities started last Friday with the Marist Pago 7’s rugby tournament. Rugby is very popular in the Pacific. The New Zealand All Blacks won the 2011 Rugby World Cup (woot!). Rugby is the game to play in Western Samoa and wheeeeewie are they good at it. Manu Samoa is their team and it was pretty exciting to be here during the World Cup to see and hear all the support for the team. ALU LE MANU SAMOA! GO THE MANU! Anyways, last Friday and Saturday, the tournament was held at our stadium. Teams from Western, Tonga, Fiji, and AmSam played. Players from Manu Samoa were here and played with their village teams. The captain of the ALL BLACKS was here! It was a very exciting couple of days. I spent most of my Saturday at the tournament – watching rugby, of course (not checking out the rugby men…hehe.) In a 7’s tournament, each team has 7 players and they play 7 minute halves. It’s very quick because the clock never stops (unlike football which takes FOREEEEEEVER). A team from Western won the overal tournament.
Mountains, sun, rugby, rugby men. Sweet.
Before going to the rugby tournament, some friends and I spent Saturday morning in “town.” When I say “town,” I am in no means saying that I was in an actual town. Towns do not exist here. To me, town is where I go if I want to eat ice cream or sit by the Pago Pago harbor. Not a town at all. It’s a little busier, sure, and it has some bigger buildings, but it isn’t an actual town like you would find in the States. A restaurant opened there several months ago that we recently discovered and it’s like a normal restaurant in the States (kind of.) It’s called DDW, aka Don’t Drink the Water. Clever because you really can’t drink the water! We had breakfast – homemade banana pancakes. I ordered the full stack which came with 4 pancakes. I, being the American that I am, thought that these would be normal sized pancakes. PFF. I forget that I’m in Samoa until food is placed in front of me. The pancakes were the size of my flipping head! I did my best but only got through about half of them. As we finished up our meal, the first fautasi race was finishing behind us – very exciting!
Holy pancakes!

What is a fautasi, you ask? A boat! Long ago, when Polynesians first came to Samoa, they arrived by boat – the fautasi. In Saturday’s race, teams from AmSam raced from one part of the island to finish in the Pago harbor. The race took a total of 20ish minutes. Super fast. The boat from Nu’uuli won. Cool. After they finished, they rowed their boat to the beach right in front of our restaurant and it was really cool hearing their fans cheer for them. I am also quite proud of this picture I took. AmSam is really this pretty. The finals race took place later on in the week and the Pago team ended up winning it. Here’s an interesting fact. One of the teams from the east side paid $800,000 for their boat. WHAT THE. Where their village managed to get that much money, I have no idea! Holy freakin’ smokes.
The Nu'uuli boat after their big win

The Nu'uuli crew welcoming in their boat
We had school on Monday and barely anyone came. We got out early. The same thing happened on Thursday and Friday. They should have just canceled the entire week of school! Although I must say that I had a really fun day on Friday. In my fifth period, I played games with a few of my students and we had such a great time. So much laughing and so much making fun of the teacher. I just love them SO DARN MUCH! If only it were possible to bring them all home with me!
Other activities went on for Flag Day: volleyball and basketball games and tournaments, a parade, performances, and the swearing in of people for the Army and Marine Corps. I can’t remember how many, but maybe 8 or 9 Leone High School students were sworn in. I believe there were 39 total from the island. I read in the news that 15 of them will serve here, while the rest will go into active duty. Such a large population of this island joins the military, which is something I don’t think a lot of people in the States realize.
Amongst all my time off, I made sure to squeeze in a pina colada by the water – pretty soon I’ll be home and fresh coconut and pineapple juice won’t be as easy to access!
Don't be jealous. You have real milk!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Today was a good music bus day. I will admit that I have not waved down a bus because I know it doesn't play good music (and by good music I mean everything from rap to island reggae, etc.) The younger drivers play all the stuff that makes the ride worthwhile (besides it only costing $1.)

The Polynesian islands l-o-v-e, love, love, love them some UB40 and who can blame them? UB40 is freakin' awesome. Western Samoa is celebrating their 50 year independence this year and guess who's coming to play them some tunes? UB40. Seki a.

This song (by UB40's front man - Ali Campbell) is becoming popular in AmSam and I happen to like it a lot. Perfect mellow song when it's raining out and you're on a bus.

I also love this song.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Sometimes, "things" happen in American Samoa that don't quite add up to what it's like to taste papaya sprinkled with fresh lime juice or to see a double rainbow as you dangle your feet over the ocean in front of gorgeous, green, lush mountains.

Sometimes, these "things" that happen in American Samoa grab your attention in a way that your body is not used too. Your heart may stop for a few seconds and then start beating faster than you ever thought possible. Your mind may race. Your body may become numb. Chances are, your body will sweat (oh wait, it already was sweaty). Sometimes, this happens.
These so-called "things" have happened to me four times now. While we can all agree that four is a very small number, we can also agree that four can also be a very big number. Most of you probably know by now what these "things" are, but for the blog readers that might be reading about my adventures for the first time (talofa!), I suppose I'll once again mention them (just because I feel that it is necessary to remind myself, "Hey! I survived. Cool!)
Thing Number Tasi: Trekking to Second Beach (what I now refer to as the beach from hell) on Ta'u. Falling approximately 3 times between giant rocks, slamming my ankle (hooray for not breaking it!..and I've got a scar. Sweet.), arriving at said beach, getting attacked by mosquitoes, and walking back only to be trapped by the cruel, cold-hearted tide that decided to sweep in fast and hard. Thank goodness I learned a lesson or two from my dear friend Smeagol. When in doubt, climb!
Thing Number Lua: Almost getting swept off a rock in Vatia and pushed out into that big, blue thing they call an ocean. That wave destroyed my underwater camera! JERK.
Thing Number Tolu: Sliding down a mountain, almost getting impaled by an avalanche of falling boulders. Okay, that was fun. I still have a bruise though...and that was a long time ago. Hmm?
And that brings us to today, and to number four.
Thing Number Fa: Abby and I decided to conquer the west (walking of course, no covered wagons here!). We left the house with a mission: walk west and not get attacked by dogs! We had the sun at our backs, we carried a plastic pipe that Amber found, and we started off. We passed some of my students, we had no problems with dogs!, we stopped to take in the views, we enjoyed the breeze, we talked about how weird it will be to live like a normal American in a few months, we talked about food (of course). It was a typical outing for the two of us. On our way back (it was getting hotter), we discovered a little cove/rocky beach area that looked like the perfect place to explore. As soon as we got down to the water, the sound that no one ever wants to hear when they are basically in the ocean blasted through the air. The tsunami siren. After a quick, bug-eyed stare between the two of us, we sprinted up the hill, hearts racing, our eyes plastered on that beautiful, calm body of water right next to us. Of course this would happen when we are a 45 minute walk from our house, right on the water. Of course. As that dreadful noise blasted, the creepy-as-all-get-out voice that goes along with it chattered Samoan. Abby whipped out her phone to call Amber, as I thought to myself of who we could call to come pick us up (ah-duh Quinn - go climb a mountain). By the time Amber told Abby that it was exactly 12 noon and it was probably a test, the creepy-as-all-get-out voice started saying "THIS IS JUST A TEST...THIS IS JUST A TEST." English...finally! Of course it is a test. Of course. While this is a "thing" that doesn't really compare to how the other three made me feel, this "thing" opened my eyes and reminded me of where I am. Life isn't always papaya-y when you live on an island in the ocean and sometimes things happen that get your heart racing. 2 minutes after we calmed ourselves down, a man drove by us, "Do-ish you-ish want-ish some-ish fish-ish?" Awkward Quinn smile (What did he say?!) and "Oh, no, we're just walking".  We have come to the conclusion that he must have said, "Did you go fishing?" Oh right.
I live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It really is papaya-y 98% of the time. And really, life would be pretty boring without a "thing" to spruce it up every so often. I'd be okay though if Thing Number Lima held off for a while...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You know it's...

...HOT when a student stands up in the middle of class, comes over to me as I am teaching, and starts fanning me.

Only in American Samoa.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Holy Hot Sunday

It's a hot one in AmSam today. I'm being completely honest when I say that the last two weeks have been relatively cool. We had sun maybe one or two days, but other than that, the sky was overcast, it rained a lot, and there seemed to be a breeze sometimes. Now, we're back to normal weather and temperature around here: blazin' hot!

As I sit here, typing, trucks are passing by with Samoans piled up in the back, all in their church clothes. It's quiet. A few birds chirp here and there. I don't think our dogs have even barked (chances are they have, and I just don't even realize it anymore). It is yet another typical Sunday.

Last week at school, we went through "Accreditation." I had never heard of this process before coming here, but now that it is over, I understand it a little more. Basically, our school was visited by a team from Hawaii that wanted to see if our school should be accredited for 2, 3, or 6 years. This means that when students graduate, their credits will actually mean something - they can go to college, or get copies of their transcripts for jobs, etc. Obviously this is a big deal. Accreditation came and went and we passed, although we won't know how many years we have received until June or July. Now life at Leone HS will go back to normal.

2 months from today, I will be packing to go to New Zealand!
3 months from today, I'll be saying goodbye to my little island in the South Pacific.

For now, I'm still soaking up every moment that I can. I'm keeping busy at school - still reading the HG (Hunger Games), Speech Fest just happened on Friday, and well, school is school!

Speech Fest was an island-wide festival that was held at Tafuna High School. It was an all day event and featured categories such as a play, script writing, oral interpretation of poetry, oral interpretation of drama, monologue, original speech, etc. It was a great day and several of our students placed - exciting!

Here are a few pictures:

One of my students designed this entire bulletin board for me - saved me a lot of time and she did a great job!

One of my completed HG bulletin boards. The movie pictures were and still are a big hit!

Another completed bulletin board - full of amazing student work!

Take a very close look at this picture...

...yeah, I know, right?! I have a couple seniors in my classes (tsk tsk for failing last year) and one of them sketched this picture of Katniss. It's amazing!

My friend, Courtney, teaches at Manu'a High School on the island of Ta'u. This means that since everyone scattered last July, I've only been able to see her 3 times since. I was ecstatic that we got to reunite at Speech Fest! We're very hot and sweaty - the island was roasting alive on Friday. And yes, I'm wearing the school uniform (I was told to do so). Turns out, I was the only LHS teacher that wore the uniform. "Miss, you look like a student!" "Oh, I thought you were a student!" "You look like you're 17!" "Why did you wear that, everyone is going to think you are a student?" Oye. Heard that all day long. : )

Our script writing group - all 4 are my students. They did an AMAZING job and I am so proud of them!

LHS kiddos and myself. One of the girls laughed when she looked at the picture, "It's funny because we're all black and you're white!" Yep.