Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Something a little off topic

I've just been watching Foreign Correspondent on Australia's ABC. It contained a story about the hazards of living with elephants in Sri Lanka. An elephant trainer interviewed for the story said, "There's no point to a country if it doesn't have elephants." I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

It's an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean yet Samoa has water supply problems. According to a recent news report from Radio New Zealand International, the Samoa Water Authority has publicly acknowledged that there is a problem, stating that low water levels at the major treatment plant in Fuluasou are to blame.

Of course this isn't news to anyone who's lived in villages like Vaitele, Vailele and Fagalii-uta (where I lived). Watching the water emanating from the taps turn from clear to milky white to murky brown then shortly after stop running at all was a fairly regular past time. I was fortunate enough to have a water tank that at least allowed for a few showers and cups of tea/coffee beyond what my neighbours typically enjoyed.

The water would most often run out during and after periods of heavy rain; soil blocking the pipes and all that kind of thing. This time around however the problem really is supply. The dry season has yet to run its course so there's not an awful lot of rainfall that would result in blocked pipes. Just before I left in mid September I drove past the major dam on 'Upolu and noted that it was almost entirely dry.

I've been told by a friend still in Fagalii that they've been without water for a while now. And whilst the rain isn't falling readily or steadily enough they're unable to catch much water in buckets and have "outdoor showers" as I was want to do. Their situation is a bit of a catch 22. No rain means no mains water; any big dump of rain is likely to lead to blocked pipes anyway. Bugger.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Miss Teuila controversy

This year's Miss Teuila pageant has not been without a degree of controversy. Supporters of Miss Samoa, New Zealand, a contestant who was named second runner-up, were extremely vocal in their disappointment. In the few days prior to my departure from Samoa, their letters of complaint filled the pages of The Observer.

I believe that it was these supporters who discovered that Pearl McFall (Miss NUS), who was crowned Miss Teuila, was 17 at the time she registered in the pageant. Pageant rules dictate that contestants must be 18 years of age or older to enter. This news was, of course, picked up by the media and became the only story worth telling for a few days.

McFall officially relinquished her crown five days after being crowned Miss Teuila, holding a press conference at the National University of Samoa campus to make the announcement. This resulted in Poinsettia Taefu, the first runner-up, being crowned Miss Teuila 2006. Having cleaned up seven of the ten individual category awards (e.g. Best Talent, Best Puletasi, etc.), it seems fitting that Poinsettia wears the crown. Congratulations 'tia!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Fine with my wife

I've wanted to post more photos and write more about Samoa but unfortunately my computer is in for repair. This might take a few weeks, so my chances of posting are going to be slim. Nonetheless, I will endeavour to put something up in the next week or so.

In the meantime, for those of you with broadband (or similar) Internet connections, might I suggest you check out this video clip (YouTube) by the biggest musical group in Samoa, Zipso. It's the song "Fine With My Wife". Nothing beats a song with the chorus
She came and said, "Sole! Zipso. You and me. My house, let's go."
"It's ok. It's alright. Girl, I'm fine, with my wife."
Enjoy the clip. I hope to get some more tales and photos to you soon. Cheers.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gone bananas!

Dear me. I'd heard about the price of bananas going through the roof in Australia thanks to Cyclone Larry early in the year but it didn't really mean anything until I saw this earlier today in downtown Melbourne:

Bloody hell! That's $34 WST (Tala) for a kilogram of bananas. I've seen numbers that suggest your average banana weighs about 100 grams. If that's the case, it's fair to say that Samoa is living the good banana life. Ten bananas will set you back no more than $3 or $4 WST at Fugalei markets.

Just to make life worse, a morning of extreme cold a week or so ago destroyed a significant portion of the stone fruit crops in Victoria. If the stratospheric prices for bananas weren't enough, it now looks like stone fruit like apricots, nectarines and plums will cost a fair amount this season too. Crisis!

Whilst much stone fruit isn't available in Samoa, send me back anyway please! Cheap, tasty bananas and mangoes that just fall off the trees everywhere you look. Count me in.