Mar 27, 2009

Samoa Comes to an End

Looking back on my time in Samoa, I would have to say it was a memorable four months. From the wonderful people and unique culture to the stunning beaches and constant sunshine, Samoa will forever be a paradise in my mind. Shooting a documentary gave me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people from spearfishermen to traditional siapo-cloth makers. Traveling throughout the country gave me deeper insight into what is at the essence of Samoa. I remember working on the plantation with my friends, planting taro, cutting down banana trees, and drinking coconuts by the dozen. All the while under a beautiful blue sky and warm tropical breeze. Then there were the moments spent around the bonfire on the beach, listening to homegrown guitar music and swapping jokes and language. I still catch myself laughing thinking about Fao Fao, my best friend/ 4 year old nemesis who followed me around everywhere, copied everything I did, and somehow taught me some amazing dance moves. I recall sitting in the middle of the empty street at night, talking with my adopted brothers Paye and Tuua and watching people of all ages walk by on their nightly jaunts. Then there were the days spent helping the girls with their chores and English, and letting them make jokes about me in Samoan for hours all the while not understanding one bit. Talking with my adopted mom Rosa and hearing her stories from her youth everyday at lunch was perhaps my favorite part of the day. Jumpstarting cars, killing pigs, harvesting shellfish and hunting octopus, wrestling with the kids, cooking palusami, climbing coconut trees, dancing, learning Samoan, running from Fafafines, listening to people sing, and hearing more gossip than I thought a small village could ever produce was just a day’s work in Saleapanga. When I finally said goodbye to all my family’s tearful faces and my plane took off out of the jungle heading for a new continent, it was hard to imagine living somewhere else.

So here I sit, almost two weeks in Chile and well on my way into my third and last adventure. I live in a wonderful little home with a Chilean family who in some ways remind me of my friends back in Samoa. But here there are no coconuts chugging sessions or scores of little kids just waiting to trip you up. Here there are giant mountains and massive deserts. And a new type of people work the land and live amongst the coastlines, plying the waters for a living. Just last week I spent a few hours at the local seafood market and watched through the fog as little yellow fishing boats were pulled out of the sea by their owners who sold their catches along the shore. I also walked the eccentric winding streets of Valparaiso with its ancient acensores (elevators) and Pablo Neruda inspired architecture. And the other day, I was sitting on a three hundred foot sand dune that dumped right into the ocean, an ocean that I had traveled in part, that stretched all the back to the origins of my journey last July when I landed in New Zealand.

I have just over three and a half months left to my trip and I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve seen, filmed, and learned. Now that I am well past the halfway point, I have begun thinking about home again and all the family and friends that I miss dearly. I look forward to seeing you all very soon and I hope that you will check in to my blog a few more times before this August for some more Chilean adventures, photos, and videos.