100th Day in American Samoa

As of today I have been in American Samoa for 100 days! To celebrate Sasha and I have invited all the palagis on island, a whopping 8 including ourselves, over for cake tonight. I also compiled a list of 100 things I have learned so far in American Samoa.

1. Owning a machete is a necessity in life
2. Termites make a mess. Everywhere.
3. It’s best to check the oven for skinks before you turn it on
4. Not to take having a microwave for granted
5. How to cook/reheat all of my food without a microwave
6. How to function on island time
7. To speak a little bit of Samoan despite it being the most confusing language ever
8. How to fillet a fresh fish
9. I should have bought a hammock years ago
10. Samoans are some of the nicest people on earth
11. How to husk a coconut (there is still a lot of room for improvement)
12. Samoan kids have the best dance moves
13. How to play Ultimate Frisbee
14. That I can teach with a very rough curriculum and limited supplies
15. All Samoans can sing
16. Not to be surprised when there is a crab in the bathroom, kitchen sink, dish rack, or scaling the walls in the living room.
17. How to hand wash my laundry
18. Not to take having washing machine and dryer for granted
19. Care packages are the best
20. How to kill tarantula sized spiders without screaming
21. Geckos make a cool chirping sound at night
22. How to live in harmony with ants
23. Teenagers can come up with some strange ideas
24. Your ears are a decent place to store a spare quarter or two for your bus fare if for some reason you deem pockets not good enough. Again, teenagers are strange…
25. Along with being strange, teenagers smell. Especially boys after PE and JROTC
26. I never realized how much I loved cheese until I couldn’t get cheese anymore
27. Samoan kids are extremely gullible
28. Sasha and I match frequently and coordinate often without ever planning it. Some sort of roommate telepathy or something…
29. Samoan music rocks
30. To try anything once
31. Cold showers really aren’t that bad most days
32. Riding in the back of trucks is the best way to get around. Riding inside cars is overrated.
33. Sliced bread is a hot commodity
34. I am even worse at volleyball than I thought
35. High school kids are all like 8 year olds in giant bodies
36. There are a million things you can do with rice
37. Rain will suddenly come over the mountain and soak you on even the sunniest days. It’s best to keep a raincoat in your bag at all times.
38. Shelf milk is never going to be good
39. Samoan swim attire results in really attractive tan lines
40. Zumba with high school students is really just a giant dance party.
41. Medical care on a tiny island is adequate for the little things but far from ideal
42. Male students think English class is a good place to clean their ears with rolled up pieces of paper no matter how many times I tell them it’s not okay.
43. Several male students will all share one rolled up piece of paper to clean their ears no matter how many times I insist it is unsanitary and gross
44. No matter how hard I try to not get too attached to the tiny puppies I find roaming the village I will always love them
45. The tiny puppies you accidently fall in love with and decide to bring in the house will pee on your floor and eat your trash.
46. And even though they make a mess, the tony puppies will cuddle and play and fall equally in love with you.
47. The ocean makes everything better
48. There are multiple types of bananas and some are a lot better than others
49. Bananas do not ripen on the tree. They need to be cut from the tree and hung in the fale
50. Samoan food is amazing and comes in huge servings
51. You can mow an entire field of grass with just a weed whacker
52. A lot of new games to keep a group of palagis busy on Friday and Saturday nights
53. Walking out my front door to the Milky Way and shooting stars will never get old
54. Roosters don’t crow only in the morning
55. I love wearing lava lava and puletasis
56. It’s actually nice to not have internet access 24/7
57. Soda is like a form of currency
58. Samoan kids are adorable
59. American Samoa has some amazing scenery – mountains, beaches, starry nights and gorgeous sunsets
60. Coconut crabs are not easy to find
61. I don’t have to have a plan for everything – things will work out in the end one way or another
62. My English seems be getting worse the longer I am here
63. The ocean here isn’t as salty as in the Caribbean which makes swimmy much more pleasant
64. Vailima is really gross warm
65. Bongos are a really great snack courtesy of Fiji
66. Burger UFOS and Peanut Ruffs are not a very good snack courtesy of Fiji
67. Korea also exports some strange things, like octopus flavored chips and a ramen like substance in a bag that you eat uncooked.
68. Island dogs will eat anything, bones and all
69. Slippers (flip flops in the states) are good for all occasions, work and church included
70. The lack of real seasons with temperature changes makes it hard to tell one month from another
71. Rainy weather makes me hungry
72. Breadfruit and taro have more nutritional value than you would think
73. Everyone in Manu’a seems to be related somehow
74. Samoans like to swim when it is cold and overcast and palagis like to swim when it is sunny and hot
75. ASTCA cell phone service leaves a lot to be desired
76. Don’t do anything you don’t want the entire island to know about by morning
77. Mystery meat and unidentified sauces served over rice make a perfectly good lunch
78. The waves crashing in the front yard may be the best sound ever to fall asleep to
79. Whales are very elusive animals
80. Samoan kids do an impressive number of chores
81. Mosquito bites will always suck
82. How to use a proxy server to get around all the DoE blocks
83. If my food isn’t sealed up in a container, plastic bin or in the refrigerator it’s fair game to the wild life
84. I am going to be really out of date on pop culture when I return. People from home keep mentioning music and movies that I know nothing about.
85. I love banana chips, which are sadly only sold on Tutuila
86. I am very lucky to have attended such good schools , both for K-12 and for college
87. Living on $400 a month is easy when you live on a little rock in the middle of the ocean
88. Pineapples take FOREVER to grow
89. If you crack open a sprouting coconut the inside is like a sponge cake
90. I really enjoy being a high school teacher. It’s not that different than teaching elementary school.
91. Breakfast crackers are a very economical purchase – cheap, you get a lot, and they go with everything.
92. Termites go through an obnoxious phase where they can fly and swarm to light, like they are doing in my room right now :(
93. Ava, the drink at tradiational Samoan ava ceremonies, tastes kind of like dirt. But the ceremony itself is a great experience.
94. Patience with everything – students, coworkers, the internet, ASTCA, boats, DoE, and the list goes on and on
95. Pizza is like a delicacy to palagis in Manu’a
96. How the tides work and what tides you need to hike to all the good beaches
97. If I’m not VERY specific in my directions the students will do some strange things
98. On Saturday, when we want to go to the beach, the weather only cooperates 50% of the time. On Sunday when swimming and all fun outdoor activities are prohibited and it is sunny 95% of the time.
99. It’s really hard to think of 100 thing that you have learned in only 100 days and type them all into one list
100. Leaving the comforts and familiarity of the United States to move to American Samoa was easily the best decision I have made in life.

7 thoughts on “100th Day in American Samoa

  1. Love that this is the best thing you’ve done in life so far! So funny that you say high schoolers are like 8 year olds in huge bodies! Going to tell our team at school that. Really enjoyed your list and learning from your experiences!

  2. 13. How to play Ultimate Frisbee

    Based on what I’ve heard, it sounds like your skills here are actually not that great…


    Love you!

  3. It sure seems like you’ve been gone longer. Maybe because you’ve done so much in just 100 days! I sure am happy for you. Be safe and keep writing!

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