Poem: Teaching In Samoa

The Backstory

I was a 25-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, teaching human biology and general biology in Samoa, a coconut-tree-fringed, green dot-of-an-island in the middle of the gloriously blue South Pacific ocean.

I loved it there.

I loved the turquoise lagoons and lush vegetation and brilliantly colored flowers. I loved the papaya and mango and banana trees, laden with delicious fruit. I loved all the chickens and pigs wandering freely around, scratching and rooting through people’s yards. One resourceful hen took up happy residence in my bedroom, laid a clutch of eggs, and proudly hatched out ten fluffy chicks. I loved it.

I loved watching Samoan boys shimmy breathtakingly high into coconut trees to pluck its fruit. I loved watching Samoan girls skillfully and artfully weave baskets and placemats from coconut fronds. I loved the food. I loved the people. I loved the languid pace, the warm nights, the silvery-peachy color of the lagoon as the morning sun rose above the water.

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I’m Always Hot, Baby. (Or: Oh No, More Hot Flashes.)

I was trying to listen, I really was. But it’s nearly impossible when you’re on fire.

On. Fire.

I was in an important meeting to discuss my little sister Becky, who has Down Syndrome, and her future welfare. I’d been anticipating this meeting for months. The social worker was talking about finances and trusts and legalities.

But my attention was dragged away when I felt the sudden spreading heat. “Oh no,” I thought. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. The heat started, as usual, at my neck and spread like wildfire across my back and chest, through my core, over my whole body, radiating fire from my skin.


Women: You know what I’m talking about.

Men: Hello! Keep up. We’re talking about hot flashes.

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Kauai: Going Home

To read my Kauai journal from the beginning, click here

Every good thing must end, I guess. Especially perfect vacations.

Martin went out to photograph his last Kauai sunrise while I started packing for the trip home. All the recent biking, kayaking, and hiking was making itself known today: Every muscle was sore, every movement induced a wince. We hurt “nose to toes,” as Martin put it. Like a couple of old people, we hobbled around.

We said goodbye to our pretty condo overlooking Wailua Bay and went out to breakfast at the Ono Family Restaurant. The Hawaiian word ono – “oh no!” –  means, counterintuitively, “delicious.” It reminds me of the car “Nova,” marketed to Hispanics, which translates from Spanish, unfortunately, as “Doesn’t go.”

Sounds matter.

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