Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Message 2008

F and R Christmas Message 2008

Christmas Cheer from R&F – our blog is at :
Check it out if you haven’t already.
Our year has been filled with lots of adventure and travels – Beside our main adventure and shift to Samoa, I have visited Fiji briefly for a week. F has seen a bit more of the Pacific with such memorable destinations as two trips to Port Morseby in PNG and instructions in how not to get a mozzie bite and four trips to Fiji but seeing little of either country.
We have settled into the tropic lifestyle and are steadily improving the house. We now have a third source of water that actually works and keeps our tank full. The rains have still not kicked in with only occasional showers and storms. Our other major source of enjoyment is a “real” lounge. We were able to purchase a secondhand 3.5 and a 2.5 seat lounge suite. This had filled our lounge room and made our home life so much more enjoyable. Oh !! To stretch out and relax on a soft lounge with a fan cooling you, watching a DVD – sheer luxury.
We have been very lucky with our power supply with very few interruptions while you hear horror stories from other parts of town of spoilt food in fridges and freezers. We lived for three days without water, but it could be carried from the next house and I filled every container I could find and ran the hose out for most of the distance.
I have made a diverse range of friends nearly all women. Beside attending the Women’s Morning Tea at Paddles Restaurant on Tuesday mornings for a chat on the latest gossip and what’s happening (there is also a broadcast email), I have been part of an art group and have nearly finished my second oil painting to decorate our house. My art teacher had an exhibition at a local restaurant and our art group was part of the 35 who attended the opening night. I have made lots of friends at Hash from a diverse range of countries and cultures. I have come to know the airport as a second home as people come and go at all hours of the night as we meet and greet. I am looking forward to more aqua activities next year with some scuba diving, u/w photography and fishing. We also hope to add some international travel to the itinerary.
My macro cooking skills are expanding – I have cooked for two dozen hashers and have been promoted from goffer to cook (although I did have assistance from Ian from PNG, as we manned a BBQ each) at the end of year BBQ catering for 51. It is not just the cooking but knowing where to buy the required items.
My children are both ending 08 on a positive note with D in London being granted a 5 year extension to his visa. M&G in Perth are well settled with a new swimming pool for their boys C and A.
F has had a year of some very low lows and some great highs including of course our move to Samoa. She is looking forward to 2 weeks holiday here in Samoa and the opportunity to see a little more of this beautiful country. She also passes on her thanks and love to all those who have supported her through this tumultuous time.

We will be enjoying Christmas Dinner at Sinalei Resort with expat friends and are booked on the barge to Savaii (the big island) for 5 nights at a resort.
Comms – we now have Skype to landline ( at times this can be problematic so if you get a call and can’t hear us, we may try again).
We wish everyone a wonderful Christmas and New Year and look forward to great times ahead.
All the best to everyone – love R & F.

Hash Christmas Carols, my naming ceremony

F and D at a farewell festival (It was only three bowls of Karva)

Hash Christmas Carols, my naming ceremony – F attends her second Hash

8Dec08 Hash
I was part of the Apia Hash Christmas Carols Run, I didn’t run except the first part and then hitched a ride on the Fire Engine as the Hash of about fifty ran through downtown Apia and stopped to sing Christmas Carols at five different restaurants and night clubs. Santa dispensed lollies to children, vehicles and buses, security personnel, and patrons of the various establishments. The fire engine had flashing red lights, a wicked screeching siren and of course a clanking bell with hashers running fore and aft in their elves attire. Were else in the world can you ride a fire engine in the capital city and have such a good time.
We were rewarded with a glass of beer each at the establishments for our efforts of singing accompanied by Godfather on his ukulele. Unfortunately it started to rain after the third stop and the long run back from Paddles restaurant was in torrential rain. As we entered the driveway of the host the person in front of me on the side of the fire engine jumped off – I now know why – a cascade of water from a gutter sans downpipe. If I wasn’t completely soaked before I certainly was after passing under this waterfall. The night was memorable for me and also F– down downs for hosting last week’s hash, for wearing my yellow and green jesters hat and not Santa’s red regulation ( although I pleaded that I had a Santa tie around my neck and a red balloon tied to my hat – to no avail). Next was my naming ceremony – as I knelt before the omnipresent MONK (no flares burning or Dame Edna’s glasses) a quarter pound of flour was rubbed into my hair with cooking oil and beer and other potions, next was the naming – I shall now be known as “Slippery” within the circle – then the drinking of the “Bats Brew”, a somewhat jellied vodka concoction and skolling Vailima from a rather small nipple attached to a large breast mug. It was now time to arise and take my place in the circle. I quickly adjourned to a tap to remove the goop from my hair and shirt (easier said than done). After a few more down downs it was time for tucker and the odd ale (this was a double keg night to really celebrate Christmas, donated by Shafter’s family). F took a somewhat inebriated “Slippery” home for another shower. So endeth the day. Pics to follow.

The lead up to Christmas has been hectic –

Last Sunday we accompanied several friends to lunch at Sinalei Resort. On the way we stopped at the Papapapaita Waterfall. While “I” and myself snorkeled out offshore to the plate coral gardens, the rest of the crew enjoyed the surroundings. Then there was lunch and a swim in the Sacred Dog Spring at the end of the jetty before the trip back to Apia. An enjoyable day for everyone.

Pics - Papapapaita Falls, sorting the snorkeling gear at the restaurant, plate coral gardens, snorkeling the dropoff, Sacred Dog Spring (note the fresh water gushing up).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hash and batching

Hosting HASH and batching
Well it finally rolled round to my turn to host the HASH, unfortunately you never know how many will turn up. So I was told to assume around 25 – 15 chicken thigh/legs (cut into 3 pieces each), 5 of which I put in oven bags and boiled in orange juice; 48 sausages and 6 chicken franks; I also cooked a large beef florentien (mushroom, tomato and basil) with rice accompanied by loaves of bread, crackers and cheese, corn chips, and sliced onions. A feast for the 24 who turned up and then there was the huge slab of chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. The uni security guys also fared well when I took them a large platter and later the leftovers. The last hashers left after 9.30 completing an excellent evening, the new Monk was not able to attend so my naming ceremony was not on the agenda, although I scored a myriad of down-downs. I locked the gates as the last hasher left, stacked the chairs, pots and pans upstairs and retired to a shower and crashed, just a tad inebriated. Unfortunately F was away in Fiji and missed the fun.
So this has been a batching week for me and I got to go fishing and swimming on the weekend. The water was cold being spring fed into a lava tube with resident fish so it was a short swim and snorkel as I arrived late and it closed at 4.00pm. It is situated on the grounds of the Piula Methodist Theological College at Saoluafata about 25 k east of Apia. On Sunday evening, I tried flicking lures on a headland where I had seen locals fishing, 40 minutes produced no strikes and I had an alternative invitation to join friends at Giordanos Pizzeria and they have the best tropical salads. Although last Friday, I joined the girls for an up market lunch, it was for a send-off, at Bistro Tatau. Their tiger prawn salad was also very YUM. As you can tell, I am not much at making salads, so I scoff them when out on the town.
Tomorrow I am going snorkeling at Palolo Deep Marine Reserve.
I packed all my gear into a shoulder fishing bag caught the bus to Beach Road and walked the k to Palolo Reserve, 3 tala gets you access to a shower, toilets, well kept grounds with lots of tables and fales and two small beaches. So I snorkeled for over an hour, showered off and ate my morning tea as I dried off. It was just beautiful to dive with the schools of small turquoise fish and get some exercise. The Deep has seen some fatalities as you are swimming in a bowl on the reef, and on an outgoing tide it rushes out through passes to a lower sea level and can be quite treacherous. So I only snorkel on the last of the incoming tide and usually only in the finger closest to shore. (Thanks to Google Earth for the image) This rule must be applied to any lagoon and reef situation. A family from Germany was very impressed when I gave them some cheese pieces to feed the fish as they snorkeled with their young daughters. Then it was some shopping and a taxi home.
The NUS bus is becoming less frequent with only one bus operating since exams finished. I fear the Green Machine that I featured previously with the shattered wind screen has found a resting place or a make-over (Some say a good thing as the rear axel seals were leaking, that makes brakes not want to work, and the bald rear tyres would not help) to be replaced with the Han00k Tires flag bus, that lacks even a sound system and a driver who travels down to town in neutral. He also clashes gears frequently, this jars my teeth to say nothing of the gearbox.
The Primary School across the road had their end of year prize giving today, 3 large tents were erected on the oval for students, guests and dignitaries. One girl scooped the awards with prizes for English, Samoan, Maths, History and Local Studies. Although there is an emphasis on education in Samoa the main cost is the compulsory uniform that precludes poor families from sending their children to school. So one uniform has to last a student several years. The school across the road has very good local support that was apparent today and I always say Talofa (Hello) to everybody when walking down the street. The PA system was an awesome affair but the music was a good selection mostly in English, they love a bass beat that can rattle windows at some distance. So from next week there will be silence where there is usually some class singing or reciting tables, usually trying to out-do another class. Everybody sings the national anthem at the flag raising with a drum section emphasizing each important phase of the morning assembly. School hours are from 8am to around 1.30pm with two short breaks.
I finally competed my first oil painting and have hung it in the lounge room, it’s a just hatched turtle with a split scene.
R of R&F