Thursday, September 04, 2008

Much to my chagrin we are still in Samoa! The seas are just not co-operating, I am fairly seething with impatience to get going but have bowed almost gracefully to Barry’s wishes not to tackle 7 meter or 20 foot seas. The wind is not too bad but there is a big low down south that is generating the huge waves so it would not be very comfortable at sea and I do recognize this. We checked out yesterday, but Barry said no go this morning so we had to run around and change the dates on all the papers. We hope to leave for Tonga on Sunday. I just need to find a few more boat projects to do and I will be fine.
Meanwhile we have been enjoying the festival that Samoa is having. We went to the dancing and singing one evening, it was great. The evening was capped off with a fire dancing competition, those guys are really amazing.
Barry and I attended our first ever live cricket match. Apparently it was Samoan rules cricket, but we really didn’t know the difference. We sat next to a couple of young English girls who explained some of the rules, it turns out they were medical students here on a rotation. (They are here for 6 weeks and then head to New Zealand for a holiday before going back home to school.) I guess the bat is quite different and the ball is a lot bouncier than a regular cricket ball. The Samoans play in bare feet and the batsmen don’t wear any equipment. The field wasn’t quite big enough, I don’t think, so there were weird ground rules. If you hit the ball out of the field and across the busy road someone could still catch it on the other side of the road. If the ball hit the roof of one of the blue roofed buildings surrounding the field, the fielder could catch the ball as it rolled off the roof and the batter would be out. I am glad we went to watch but I am not sure that I know much more about real cricket than I did when I arrived.
They have been having boat races as well. This shot is of the finish.We were walking back to the boat the other day and a team was going out to practice. We sat and watched them load up the boat, quite the process. Did I tell you there are about 50 rowers in the boat? The race was today and I counted 8 boats, that is 400 rowers, amazing, the harbour was lined with spectators as well. It was quite the event, the race starts about 10 miles away and there was a live radio broadcast, in Samoan of course.
I went into the festival grounds early yesterday and saw them preparing the traditional umu, or pig roast. Here they do not bury it they cook it above ground with hot rocks. The were very meticulous in preparing the area, first a piece of tin roofing was cut the correct size, then a layer of just right sized rocks were put on top, the roofing was outlined in some very large logs.
A well earned cooling off dip after the race as well as the only way to get to shore for these guys.

The rocks were covered with coconut shells and the coconut husks were laid against the logs all the way around. They added small bits of firewood and then larger bits and then they lit it. Once the blaze was going they put another layer of rocks on the top of everything. Quite the process!!!!
Traditionally the cooking was done by the young Samoan men, men that did not have a chiefly title. The commentator said that if you were a young man in a family and you had 4 brothers you had a lot of help with the cooking, if you only had sisters, you did a lot of work!! I asked when a young man would ever stop cooking and he explained that if a chief died the family would get together and vote on who would get the title next and once you became a chief you no longer had to cook.
The coconut was a huge part of this umu. The young men were scraping out the insides of the nuts, and then they would squeeze the fruit and get the coconut milk from it. They added onions and salt to the milk and made a package out of leaves and cooked it on the fire. First they would use about 4 or 5 young taro leaves to make a container, they would fill this with the coconut mixture, next it would get wrapped in a banana leave and then a breadfruit leave and voila a waterproof package was ready to be put on the fire. We tasted it one night when we were out to dinner and it was delicious. I did not stay to watch them sear the hair off the pigs and gut them and then get them ready for the fire. We were planning on leaving the next day so I had to go and check out. It was quite the education in the traditional Samoan way to cook a pig. Tomorrow there is a parade and then the Miss Samoa pageant is at night. I am not sure if we will go to that but I bet it would be an interesting thing to observe.