Making a Garden 05/13/13 Our small little house begins to feel more like a home every day. We have added small personal touches like pictures, and curtains. We enjoy spending our free time baking and cooking together. Josh has mastered brownies that use the fresh roasted cocoa called koko Samoa. He is getting famous for his amazing cooking abilities, and he had several orders coming in for Cocoa Samoa brownies for Mother’s Day. I have become the bread maker. I specialize in baking bagels, and tortillas. We love to cook with fresh vegetables, but surprising as it is vegetables are very hard to come by here, especially after the hurricane. We have on occasion had children come to our door selling us peas, cucumber, or eggplant, but we miss variety in our delicious and vitamin packed veggies, so we decided to plant a garden. Before we could begin, we had to get some basic tools to build a garden. We went into town and bought some work gloves and a shovel. Since we are prohibited to drive we have to walk and rely on public transportation to get everywhere. So of course the logical thing to do was to walk through town carrying our shovel. We met some other Peace Corps volunteers for lunch in the restaurant of a very fancy hotel, and we gently leaned our shovel against the wall while we ate. We definitely got some strange looks and even some comments about our shovel, but we felt it was our only option, and we were bound and determined to get that shovel home so we could make our garden. Once we had our tools, we were ready to begin the hard part. We started by clearing the grass and rocks. There were so, so many rocks. And the sun, oh how hot the sun is when you are this close to the equator! The Samoans believe that the sun makes you sick. Anytime I go in the sun they tell me, “Alisa” (that’s my Samoan name) “the sun… you will get sick.” Most of the time when they tell me this, I pass it off as a misunderstanding, on their part, as to what actually causes sickness. But let me tell you something; when you are doing actual hard labor, you really can only be in that sun for an hour or so, before you so start to feel “sick.” So needless to say our garden building was significantly slower than building a garden in the states. Once we finally got everything cleared away we decided to make a rock wall to keep the pigs and chickens out of our garden. We began hulling heavy boulders to the perimeter of our small patch of dirt. Some of the neighborhood kids were on the school compound to watch the men play rugby, which is a daily occurrence in our front yard. They came over and helped us carry rocks as well. It took us two days to build a rock wall about 2 feet tall. We felt pretty accomplished with that feat, until we were woken the next morning at 6 am to the sound of all the young men building a rock wall on the school compound. They build a rock wall 3 times the size of ours in a half hour. By the time we finally got around to getting the seeds in the ground, the grass had started growing back. So we had to spend another day weeding the garden. We had some seeds sent to us from Josh’s mom and our very good friends, Troy and Kim, sent us some spicy pepper seeds. We also had some seeds given to us by a friend who gardens here in Samoa. We were very excited to plant some of the things that are not very common in Samoa. We aren’t sure what will actually come up, but we felt it was worth a try. We planted a variety of bell peppers, a variety of hot peppers, some mixed lettuce, yellow squash, zucchini, broccoli, basil, green onion, cantaloupe, and a Samoan variety of water melon. We are really looking forward to some fresh veggies in our near future.