Plantation life … without the slaves

From the blog Karen and Dave in Samoa

Posted Dec. 14, 2010

Here in Samoa they have a very clear hierarchical system.  The matai is the boss and then there is everyone underneath him.  When it comes to the plantation, this is the domain of the “taulelea” or untitled men.  To get to our plantation, we walk up a dirt footpath through people’s side yards, back yards, garbage piles, mini gardens, and clotheslines.  Then we come to the auala galue (work road).  It is about a 20-minute walk uphill on this road.  Then we climb over, under, or through a series of barbed wire fences, which divide the plantations and keep in the bulls/cows and various animals.  Then we walk for 10 minutes along a very narrow winding path through taro plantations.  Finally, we cross 2 more barbed wire fences and reach our plantation.

Here, we collect firewood, coconuts, taro, and whatever else is growing up there.  We bring a machete and an axe with us up there.  When we return everyone carries 1 or 2 branches on their shoulders with the collected goods slung over the ends.  These branches weigh a minimum of about 50lbs and go up from there.  The pain that develops in your shoulders is so amazing that you don’t feel the burn in your legs.

In my family, we usually cross the sound to get our coconuts.  We can simply harvest more coconuts with less sweat and blood this way.  Over across the sound is where the old village used to be.  One day while we were over there we stumbled upon an old church.

If you cross the entire island you can gaze over the South Pacific looking towards Australia.  However, the farther you wander out, the farther you have to walk to get back.

Aside from being beautiful, cooler than the mainland, and picturesque, the namu (mosquitoes) are UNSTOPPABLE.  There is no amount of bug spray that will keep them away.  While taking a break I counted 27 mosquitoes on Kapeli’s bicep alone.  While I was counting them he was continually fanning himself with coconut fronds to try and keep them away.  Anyway, going to the plantation keeps the guys in amazing shape.

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