Post 19 — The Aiga Bus

The route from Tafuna to downtown Fagatogo ran for 7 miles along the edge of the island, with ocean on one side and mountain on the other.

The route from Tafuna to downtown Fagatogo ran for seven miles along the edge of the island, with ocean on one side and mountain on the other.

After a few days, the family was beginning to feel a little more acclimated. Everyone had caught up on their sleep and the overwhelming sense of strangeness was starting to fade just a bit, although the children still kept trying to go into the wrong houses. School would not start for a few more weeks and the household goods weren’t expected until next month, so Jean was kept busy trying to keep the gang occupied with very few props. She thought about falling back on an old standby – mosaic pictures made out of dried peas and beans – but the cost of food was so exorbitant that it seemed wasteful. As an alternative, she signed the girls up for siva lessons so they could experience the culture firsthand.

Things are perking up a little bit. Jean is starting to get into the swing of the shopping and cooking, and though the prices make her a little ill, the cooking affects Carolyn about the same way. Lynnie has been the biggest complainer about the way things taste. When we have a meal that is familiar to her she eats like a horse in order to store it up for the next good meal. The other kids seem to be taking things pretty well. They’ve made friends with some other kids in the area and are loosening up. Besides their Siva dancing lessons, they’ve been coming into town to a nice little beach near the studio. A burly Samoan who is in charge of the recreation program acts as lifeguard while they swim. The water is crystal clear, very warm, and multi-colored little fish swim right up to you and look you in the eye. Kathy and Lynn are swimming quite well and Chris is beginning to get the hang of it. Jean and I haven’t done any swimming here as yet, but as soon as we get some transportation we plan to do a lot of it. Skin diving is very popular here (not scuba diving) All you do is wear a face mask and swim fins (plus bathing suit if you’re not Samoan) and swim slowly along in about five feet of water. The water is so clear in some areas that you can see the bottom even if it’s fifteen or twenty feet deep. The swimmers chase little fish, collect interesting shells or just explore the watery world. Sure is a far cry from Lake St. Clair.


Because they had no car yet, they were dependent upon the kindness of their neighbors to get into town, which was approximately eight miles away. There was also public transportation available, and the family decided that this would be a good way to experience their first trip to Fagatogo.

It was easy to find the bus route since there was only one paved road that ran the length of the island.
You simply stood by the side of the street and waved the bus down. That could be anywhere between five minutes and five hours.

“What did Charlie say the bus was called?” Jean asked Larry as she fanned herself with a banana leaf. Of all the family, she was the one most affected by the humidity and was dreading the next two years of feeling soggy.

“Hang on, he wrote it down for me. The word is aiga. So if we throw that extra ‘n’ in there, it’s pronounced “i-ing-a.” Larry was pleased with his pronunciation. He had already learned hello and goodbye, and with only 15 letters in the Samoan alphabet, he figured he would have the language down by the end of the first year.

The girls had also been learning vocabulary words. After an afternoon in the banyan tree with their new friends, Kathy had a list in her pocket of seventeen Samoan phrases which covered all the major swear words as well as a variety of body parts, including the elusive scrotum that they had been vaccinated to protect.

A large wooden vehicle lumbered toward them and slowed to a stop. Long benches ran the length of the bus on either side with the center area left open. Aiga means family and on this particular trip, someone’s family included a pig and a few crated chickens. There was much smiling and waving from the Samoan passengers as the Broquets piled into the bus and sat on the floor. By the time they had reached Fagatogo, Karen had fallen in love and vowed to one day have a chicken of her own.

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3 Comments to “Post 19 — The Aiga Bus”

  1. Well, don’t keep us in suspense. Did Karen ever get her chickens?


  2. Did you read the Word of the Day?!


  3. My first introduction to the smell of a pig. It was revelatory.


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