The boat, named the MV Sili, came to Ta’u yesterday!! We had gotten a call the night before from our field director saying that he had put things on it for the Manu’a volunteers – food that the guys had ordered from him in Pago and our mail. I got 3 boxes thanks to my mom, dad, and sister – thanks guys! I know more have been sent from people as well and will hopefully be making the boat trip soon. The post office in Pago sorts mail once a week. If they are in a good mood and that person comes to work on the designated day (either Friday or Monday). It makes the post office in the states seem like the most efficient place ever with their daily mail sorting and delivery. Once the mail has been sorted our field director has to check the P.O. Box, find out when there will be a boat to Manu’a (it stops at Ta’u and Ofu/Olosega) and head to the port with everything and get it loaded on. Then a day or so later the boat appears in Ta’u. We were all happy to hear that it was coming with things for us, but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a cultural experience.
The boat has come to Ta’u one other time in the month we have been here. That trip was mostly made to ship out school lunches and bring the students who had left the island for the summer back for school. That time the boat came in the middle of the day and since we were working we never actually saw it. Today’s boat had been scheduled for noon, but keeping with island time actually showed up around 4:30. We live on the opposite end of the village as the wharf, but because of the way the coast curves we can still see the wharf easily from the living room windows. When we spotted the boat coming into the wharf we grabbed our lava lavas and slippers (what they call flip flops here) and headed down to the wharf to grab our stuff. What we found was nearly every car on the island and a good number of the 800 inhabitants of the island waiting for the boat to dock. From there it’s a free for all. They open the boat up and everyone just jumps on a grabs their stuff. There is no system. Just jump on, grab your stuff, put it in your truck, and then repeat the process until you have everything you were sent. We stood around just watching it all happen and chatting with friends and students until things cleared out a bit. Just after we sent Matt onto the boat to search for our stuff someone else spotted it and brought it out (it’s obvious that anything marked WorldTeach goes to the palagis). Matt found a ride with the guy’s stuff back to their house in Ta’u and I carried my stuff back the road to our house. I thought maybe I would be patient and open a box every few days to spread out the joy, but that didn’t happen. I opened them all within a few hours. I got lots of treats and supplies for the house and school.
The combination of the boat experience overall and getting mail left me with a smile on my face all night. As an added bonus I got to listen to the sound of the boat rocking in the wharf (it’s a strange whale like sound) along with the sounds of the waves last night. The boat rarely sleeps in Ta’u – it usually starts the journey back to Pago and stops on the way to sleep in Ofu. But because of the tides and the time of day (the boat can’t navigate the Faleasao wharf at night) it had to spend the night here and leave early this morning. The boat hit the bottom trying to get out of the wharf here earlier in the year and then spent several months out of service waiting to get into the dry dock for repairs, and no one wants a repeat of that.
Rumor has it the boat will be coming again in 2-3 weeks. I’m hoping that’s true and that the other boxes I know have been sent will come. When they do make it here I’ll be sure to give you a special blog shout out :)