• Stomach viruses aren’t fun, especially when your house runs out of water
  • New Zealand grows some pretty good apples
  • My brothers are watching me write these notes
  • The amount of trash that has piled up on the side of the road since school has begun is unbelievable
  • The school committee runs a canteen during school, reminds me of NGCSU

In light of recent news of the world freaking out about the ZIKA virus I thought I would take a brief moment to discuss a relevant topic. Samoa is a tropical island nation, so mosquitos happen to run rampant. Shocker, I know! The virus hitched a ride to this island in a timely manner that corresponded with my own arrival. It has not had quite the devastating impact as it has in Brazil, but it has begun to spread. Contracting the virus itself isn’t all that harmful as the symptoms of fatigue, fever, and rash last only a few days. The harm comes in the birth defects that doctors believe are caused by the virus. How does one protect themselves from the mosquitos if they are everywhere?

In Samoa trying to get away from mosquitos is the equivalent of trying to run away from the ocean. Sure, you may put some distance between you, but eventually your going to come face to face with it. The common preventive measures are clearing brush, dumping standing water, and using repellent. These reduce numbers, but Samoans know those pesky bloodsuckers are still going to be around. From birth they are groomed to become mosquito-killing machines. The act of their swatting looks amazing and it is practically a science. Tools such as fans and fox tails have even been developed to be used on their shirtless backs while hanging around the fale (house).

I have been slowly developing my own skill. Soon I will earn my brown belt in Samoan mosquito-fu. I have just become comfortable using the fan to slap myself in the legs without it interrupting my conversation with others. The final challenge is using the fox tail to casually whip across my back while conversing with matai (chiefs) in an open fale. The difficultly comes as you can’t whip to hard or you will hurt yourself. At the same time you can’t whip softly or it won’t cover the optimal amount back area.

In reality mosquitos are a major part of life in this culture. You can’t get rid of them, so you must learn to reduce the risk of contracting a mosquito born illness. The government actively tries to educate just how to do this. The message is to clear brush around your home, sleep with mosquito nets, and use repellent. As stated before these help reduce risk, but sometimes having a fan or fox tail handy isn’t a bad idea.