Fa’a Samoa II
From: “mele mauala” firstname.lastname@example.org
To: recipient list surpressed
Subject: Fa’a Samoa II
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 21:18:30
I am fresh from the Tatau convention and have made so much progress with
my research that I may come home early (just kidding, I haven’t tried all
the beaches yet!).
The village it was held in was called Saleapanga and it
has the whitest sand I have ever seen! The weather was gorgeous and
looking onto the horizon all you could see were bands of blue as the ocean
met the sky. I’m sure Rothko would have been pleased if he’d visited
The hotel I stayed in was all traditional Fales (samoan houses) and
they have no walls. Imagine a thatched bowler hat shaped roof with
tree trunks holding it up and you’re imagining my home for the last few
days. My uncle didn’t want me to stay by myself so I had two babysitters
(both younger than me!).
On one side of my Fale my neighbors were
Policemen brought for the Convention. My first night I hung out with them
and played Suipi (a Samoan card game). I went to bed with my Fale open (no
During the evening a storm arose and nearly blew me out of
the Fale! My cousin was happily snoring away and I don’t think she would
have noticed if the Fale burnt down over her! At any rate, I put all the
Pola (blinds down) and saved us both from getting soaking wet! The next
night my other neighbors stopped by for a long chat. I found out that they
were all ex-convicts from the states who had come home to Samoa to open up
a Tattoo shop. Very nice and polite guys, and except for their references
to being in jail, I would never have guessed that they had all been gang
At any rate I felt safer with them because I found out that one
of the policemen liked me. In Samoa, when someone is interested in you,
they get an intermediary (in my case my cousin) to tell you that they want
“To Talk to You”. Fortunately I was aware of this custom and did not make
any booboos. I told her to tell him I was busy and he left me alone. Who
knew I had to come to Samoa to be protected by gangsters from the Police!
The convention was absolutely fabulous. I met all the important Tufunga, especially Petelo Suluape, who is probably the best alive today in Samoa
and a whole bunch of non-Samoans who have been given the title of Tufunga
so that they can do traditional Tatau in their countries (U.S., Tahiti,
Hawaii, Canary Islands, and Australia), this has added a whole knew spin to
my research as I can focus on the Samoan Diaspora and how these non-Samoan
tatooist will contribute to traditional iconography! Sorry to bore those
of you who are not Art historians!
At any rate, I may get a Malu, a
traditional female tatoo. It covers your entire thighs to below the knee.
Considering the size of my thighs, it will be a major undertaking! But I
told myself it will not be until I can speak Samoan fluently, so that may
be a while.
My cousin is desperate to get one but my uncle is a strict
Pastor and won’t let her. If I get one, I have to have a partner, so she
has volunteered herself (needless to say she is practically force feeding
me Samoan so I will learn faster!). I’m still working on her dad…
As for my family, Samoans are pretty darn funny and my cousin who wants
the Malu (her name is Oiko) is just like me in personality! If she ever
visits NY, it will never be the same with both of us there!
I miss you all
very much, and for all of you in NY I want you to be safe and sound and
think of me when the snow begins to fall, just picture me dancing on the
beach ’cause that’s more likely what I’ll be doing! Hope to send photos soon!