Apia to Manono, Wednesday 21st December 1994

Children in Manono, Western Samoa


We saw the Samoan band marching outside the government building, raising the flag, and playing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. I phoned home and it was nice and talked to Mom for the first time. Gavin moved while the flag was being raised which is considered disrespectful. I had round doughnut things and bought biscuits. I quickly rushed drinking my coke before boarding the bus to Apolima Uta. I met Sefulu on the bus and was immediately invited to stay on Manono. We accepted the offer, with child Cecilia and another on the way. We waited for the small boat with an outboard motor to the island and were dropped off on the shore right outside the house. Children were making grass skirts for tonight’s Sunday school performance. We had bread, rice, tomato and butter. Chickens and cats were wandering about. Everyone was kind, friendly and welcoming. We went for a walk around the island. I saw toilet cubicles on the beach and played volleyball – they seemed reasonably impressed. I drank coconut juice. We met various sisters on the way. Electricity on the island was switched on today for the first time, quite an event for the island – only streetlights at first though. We visited a sister and had bananas and coconut. I feel so relaxed, almost as if I have been drugged. We were dressed in necklaces of flowers. I helped cut wood for the stove with a very large knife. A wonderful meal under a bright camping light of fish, tomato, noodle, melon, rice and Sprite, which I am sure they do not drink normally. We waited for the rain to stop, but it continued with great force. I used a plastic sheet to shelter and wore a sarong on the way to the Sunday school show, through puddles and darkness. I was soaked by the time I arrived at the sheltered stage area, but changed into another sarong. Children were singing and I did the Haka dance with Gavin and Nick, and we managed to get everyone clapping in time to the movements. Great fun! Donations were put in plates. We watched a Nativity play and a Manono Haka dance from the kids. I spotted a very fat Sunday school teacher. We were also given some dinner in a leaf plate, and tea. I felt intimately involved in the culture, so incredibly different from the life back in England. The flickering camping light was faulty on the right hand side of the stage. I walked back with the yellow mackintosh. We slept on their mattresses.

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