Thursday, February 21, 2008

Samoa Part 11: On Socks and Showers

I began my mission with around 22 pairs of socks--all identical. When I got to Salelologa, Savaii, I found out that the only method of washing clothes was by hand in buckets. So after being there for a little while, I came up with a nice plan as to how I could cut down on the loads of laundry.

It was sheer genius for me to decide to wear each pair of socks three days in a row before switching to another pair. That meant, if you do the math, 66 days of good wear before laundry day.

Now you must remember I wasn't all that far from the equator so it was hot and wet. We went without shoes while inside houses so we picked up a lot of dirt throughout the day. You can only imagine the "wonderful smell [I] discovered" after wearing a pair of socks three whole days. I kept this up for umm...about a week and then I had to call it quits. I just couldn't keep up the sheer ingenuity of it all. It was too good of an idea to not let it go.

Showering in Salelologa was another exciting experience. Twice each day, at 6:30 am and 9:30-ish pm, I traipsed down to the shower room located next to the janitorial-closet hut within the same compound in which we lived. At that hour of the morning Samoa experiences beautiful sunrises and I witnessed many breathtaking scenes. Salelologa faces east so we were perfectly situated to see the daily grandeur of the rising sun. At that hour of the night Samoa is pitch black.

The shower consisted of a tiled room with a half-inch PVC pipe hanging over the top of one wall. We only had cold water which at times proved very refreshing, but at other times, e.g., when it rained, it was shockingly cold. There was no light in the shower room so it was often dark, very dark. I quickly became an adept at shaving with no mirror or light.

Because it was dark inside the shower room, shower time was always filled with a little angst. Occasionally, one of the very large flying cockroaches got inside and crawled all over my feet. But worse yet, I had terrifying visions of spiders and centipedes being all around me and especially at my feet.

The spiders in Samoa are terribly large but harmless. However, the centipedes are ridiculously big and pack a nasty bite. Fortunately, though I saw a number of centipedes in Samoa, I was never bitten. I was told, however, that the surefire way to cure a centipede bite is to write, with a pen or finger, the name of the centipede's mortal enemy, the chicken or moa, on the site of the bite. Because I was never bitten, I cannot tell you if this little piece of magic actually works, but the Samoans swear by it.


A typical sized centipede, or atualoa

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