It is very unfortunate that the ferocity of the dogs on this island prevents a jog or a nice stroll. It's a problem that doesn't seem to be going anywhere since so many dogs are unclaimed and the people that do "claim" dogs want to have the most vicious dogs on the island for a reason beyond my comprehension (maybe they're compensating... lot's of big trucks too). Anyway, there are a few spots you can jog or walk in peace. There is a sidewalk along the shore stretching from Fatu and Futi toward Tafuna. This is scenic but it's along the road and car exhaust can be bothersome. Most of Noah and Moms walks are taken in Tafuna at either Lions Park or the "OMV Area" (it's near the Office of Motor Vehicles). These areas have paved pathways and are dog free, Lions park also has a playground and tennis courts.
It has been very rainy here the last 2 weeks, but Mom still squeezes in some outdoor time with Noah.
NOAH NEWS: Noah hates to have dirty feet, a trait that I am sure we will miss as he gets older!
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: Always carry a big stick if you're not walking in the areas mentioned above. Always. The dogs that will get you are quiet and sneaky, so keep your head up... unless it's a pack then they are loud! A former co-worker was driving a motor cycle in the evening through a town with a badly worn road when a pack attacked him, he ended up crashing the bike and getting taken to the hospital.... nothing too serious but the dogs suck!
We want to wish all of our family and friends the best for the Holidays. We miss you all, Christmas isn't the same so far away... and when it's 80 degrees out.
Noah did some decorating! We just picked up a little fake tree, but they actually do ship in real Xmas trees for about $75 each (up to $200 for the big ones).
There is so much food growing all around us here in A.S. that self sustainability wouldn't be difficult at all. I realize how unique these foods are and want to start to share what we are learning. Technically this could be Part 2 since we made the lemon grass tea/cleaner. This first topic is an obvious one.... coconuts!
These are coconut trees, I only state the obvious to clarify that they are not palm trees. We were guilty of incorrectly calling them palm trees when we arrived and I know many other people make the same mistake. The trees in the picture below are palm trees.... I didn't have a pic so I just ran out and took this on a not so nice day here is A.S. If you have ever eaten hearts of palm, that comes from the center of a young palm tree, but I haven't seen it sold/eaten here yet.
Coconut trees are everywhere here and coconut/coconut cream is found in most meals. You can grab a young coconut off the tree and chop the top off for drinking. Off the tree, they are yellow or green and bigger than anything you see in the stores since the husk is still intact. Most people here wait until the coconuts are slightly older and the inner shell has become harder. The slightly older coconuts, which are also for drinking, are husked and then look like the "typical" round brown coconut (these commonly appear on our dinner table as seen below ). If they are too old they taste a little bit acidic, but it won't hurt you. I have not yet put the lime in the coconut, but have written this post I may have to....
So that covers coconut water, but if its the meat and cream you're after then the coconut must be even older to allow the meat on the inside to build up. The old coconuts are husked and then cracked in half, usually with a machete. Once the coconut is open, the locals use a little stool with a metal spiked half circle thingy (that's the technical term) to scrap the meat out. They can scrape out a whole coconut in no-time, it's pretty impressive.
Once all the meat is scrapped out it can be used for eating/cooking or it can be squeezed to make coconut milk/cream. Traditionally Samoans would use the fibrous husks to squeeze the coconut shreds, but nowadays just a cloth will do. They squeeze the heck out the meat and all the milk runs out, usually the squeezed "meat" is just thrown away.
It's been rainy lately, but we managed to squeeze in a little beach time last Saturday. We were just a little east of Fatu and Futi (within walking distance). Fatu and Futi are in a Village that's on the stricter side from a religious standpoint and can feel unwelcoming for non-Samoans. This is especially true when it comes to dress since all Samoans swim in long shorts and T-shirts. Some have said it's due to religious conservatism and other said it's because they are "big" people, and I believe it's a mix of both. Either way we can feel the stares when we are on the beach which I find a bit ridiculous since true Samoan culture would have everyone running around basically naked, not covered from head to toe.... but I digress. In light of the cultural situation, we moved away from the popular area and enjoyed the water by ourselves.
BEACH - Over the weekend we took a second hike to airport beach for another relaxing and private beach day. The weather was perfect but rain earlier in the week made for some slightly cloudy waters. We still saw some cool fish and enjoyed the water, I think it's Noah favorite beach.
We met a fisherman who passed through while we were there. He was headed out to catch octopus and if his English been a little better I might have asked him to take me for a few dives. I've already asked others about it; first you look for empty shells piled up near a hole under a rock/reef, poke your spear around in there until the octopus is pissed off enough to grab the spear then simply pull it out. Sounds easy right? I'm guessing it's not but haven't had the chance to find out yet.
BUGS - Upon returning home we planned on a quick dinner and maybe a movie to relax the night away. This plan quickly disintegrated when we walked into the master bathroom and discovered that thousands of ants had invaded. The top 2 feet of one corner up to the ceiling was a solid moving brown color, mostly normal ants but there were some flying ones mixed in just to make things fun! Mom and Noah retreated to the kitchen to whip something up for the already hungry Noah, and Dad was left alone to enact "Ant-aggedon". We recently picked up a non-toxic bug spray (that's what the can says anyway) so I used that and after a little chaos the brown corner was not longer moving. As I began to clean up the remains I realized the bug spray was very oily and this was unfortunate since oil tends to linger and with it the smell of a pesticide (yay!). I then spent the next hour scrubbing the walls and floor which was only partially effective and the bathroom is still airing out as I write these words.
Now it was time for Act 2! You may have noted the mention of termites in some of our previous posts. Well... it's Spring time here and guess what bug like to do in the Spring? That's right! Make more bugs. After I finished cleaning up and devouring some food (getting late by now), Mom noticed a couple termites crawling on the ground... then another.... and another. We spent the following hour picking up termites all over the house as fast as we could. Oh, did I mention they fly? Each Spring the termites leave their burrows upon wings in search of a mate and then go back into the ground or burrow. Luckily if they can't get into soil or a natural environment they just die. We eventually gave up the chase and went to sleep to wake up with the dead termites all over the house. Unfortunately for us these events usually happen 2-4 times and right now I am sitting in termite swarm number 3 and the little b%#$^rds are raining down on me as I sit on the couch. I don't want to blow it out of proportion, we don't have a big cloud of them or anything, it's more like 5 to 10 around every light in the house. Bugs suck.
NOAH NEWS: Noah is getting tooth number eight and hasn't gotten any better at it! Hopefully it comes in quick and he gets back to himself.
The Jaskowiak Family
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