I am now back in the MotherShip in Auckland, safe and sound. No centipedes bit me. No attackers broke through my bedroom door. I didn’t get food poisoning. Or crash my mother’s car. ( even tho its a stick shift and has no rear view cameras or laser sensors to make sure I dont hit walls,vehicles and trees that are stupid enough to get in my reversing way.) No, my trip to Samoa was relatively harmless. I did however, remember some things about my homeland that I had forgotten.
1. The main water supply gets turned off every night and then on again in the morning. It’s called ‘rationing.’ But when you’re the idiot who’s covered in soap and the fridgin flowers tap goes off then its called a fridgin flowers bloody nuisance. Once which requires a bit of creative ingenuity. Like streak your naked soapy self to the fridge, grab a bottle of ice water and then rinse off Antarctica style. Brrrrr. I was not Happy Feet, let me tell you.
2. Nights in Samoa are filled with the sounds of…nature. Barking, howling dogs. The endless cricketing of crickets. The whining buzz of a hungry mosquito beside your ear. And then just when you finally fall asleep, there’s roosters crowing. My family doesnt own any chickens. But everyone who lives on our street must have them and they all want to talk to each other at 5:30 in the morning. One rooster crows. Then another one has to canoodle back. And then another and another and another and then there’s no point trying to go to sleep anymore. And instead you think about all the ways you can kill chickens that talk too much.
3.Going home for me, means going HOME. Where my parents live. Where my mother reigns supreme. Where it don’t matter how old you are, how many husbands you have ( ha I wish) or how many children you busted a gut producing…you are still a CHILD. A daughter. (Choose any or all of the following translations: slave, serf, domiciled labourer, servant, useless wretch.) So I arrive and right away I am issued with orders,”You have to drive me to the airport. And go get your Dad from the other airport. And then take him to the doctor because he’s sick. But first, you need to see to those customers in my shop. And blah blah blah.” And if you are stupid enough to say, “But, Im here on a work trip/Im busy/my boss is waiting to meet me/my leg is septic and needs to be amputated” then she will give you the royal guilt trip. “We’re all working people here…we’re old you know…how many times do you ever help us with anything…well, fine I can see that you just dont care about us and our trials and tribulations…” I love my mother dearly. But she is the maestro of Martyrdom.
4. Samoa is quite possibly, the most beautiful place in the world. I spent two days driving around the island to take money from the sale of the “Pacific Tsunami” book out to survivors that I had interviewed for the project. I got back to town each night exhausted from the roadtrip but still in awe at the color, lushness, and rich tapestry of scenery that I pretty much took for granted when I lived there all the time. Everybody should leave their home once in a while so that they can better appreciate it.
5. Samoans are most definitely, the friendliest people in the world. Some a little too friendly. Cars full of
hooligans young men winking their eyes and waving at any solo woman they see. Even ones with five kids. ‘Hey baby!’ Don’t hey baby me you fool. Not unless you’ve got donuts and chilled Diet Coke for me.
Oh, and if you’re giving out money (that doesnt belong to you) then people are SUPER friendly. Once word got out that the author of “Pacific Tsunami” was distributing book funds then I started getting stalked. One man hunted down my grandfather’s house. They called me up, ‘Lani, there’s a man here who says that you have to come over right away and listen to him. He’s got a NEW tsunami story to tell you and he wants you to write a book about it.” Aha. So in the last two years since the tsunami happened, this man has magically remembered a NEW story he can only share with ME. Aha. I feel special. So special that I went into hiding and had my family tell everyone that I had
died and gone to heaven, with Conan gone back to New Zealand already.
But money-hungry stalkers,horny hooligans and dead water taps aside – I still would go home to Samoa to live in a heartbeat. New Zealand may have the best donuts I’ve ever tasted, but Samoa is still where the heart is.