Life Underwater: Living in American Samoa

Life Underwater: Living in American Samoa

As a child, I coveted the Little Mermaid’s life. Not only was this girl born a princess, but she got to stay at the pool all day and nobody ever told her it was adult swim. Some kids get all the luck. I firmly believed that I was a much more logical candidate for princess of the seas. I mean, Ariel clearly had a few screws loose. The broad combed her hair with forks and sold her voice to an evil mutant octopus. And don’t even get me started on red heads. The smear campaign that I could have put together would have been legendary.

Recently, I feel as though I’ve had the opportunity to get a taste of the mermaid life. I venture from shower to rainstorm to puddle to sweat and back to shower again. I don’t think that I have fully dried out since I arrived on the island. Sometimes I feel as though I have truly moved underwater. And believe me, this is no Atlantis. I’m beginning to understand that this whole “under the sea” motif is not all that Disney made it out to be. Now don’t get me wrong, I usually refer to Disney cartoons for the majority of my factual information. But there are some personal experiences that even the original imagineer himself would have a hard time sugar coating.

It has rained nearly constantly for the past two weeks. Not the rapid thunderstorms of late summer I’m accustomed to, but big constant downpours. The kind that would send Noah himself running for an umbrella and a towel to dry off with. Every day, I wake up with a shower and then venture out into the storms to catch a bus. My walk from the bus stop to school has, more than once, caused me to consider switching my teaching attire from my usual lavalavas to plastic overall waders. Again after school I battle the same treacherous walk and return home to shower again. Because, let’s be honest, I have no idea what kind of tropical wildlife has chosen taken up residence in those stagnant, muddy puddles.

This life aquatic that I’ve adopted has definite drawbacks. For starters, my clothes never dry and nice purses have molded. (This has sparked a fierce internal battle between my sorority self who mourns the loss of these purses and my new laid back island personality who wonders why you would need a purse when you have a perfectly decent coconut frond basket.) The toll that the weather has taken on my wardrobe is relatively minor. The physical toll is a bit more interesting. My fingertips have been wrinkled into raisins for going on three days now. I’m starting to hope this is not a permanent condition. My hair, which never fully dries, has taken on the unique scent of saltwater, humidity and cheap shampoo. My feet are constantly muddy and, no matter how hard I try, I cannot get a coat of nail polish to last longer than three days. I’ve begun to mentally adapt to this weather.

When the sun makes appearances, I rush out to soak up some vitamin D. This inevitably results in me being caught in yet another rainstorm. The benefit of which is that I have made some excellent friends through commiseration when we’re both caught out in the rain. I have come down with what I’ve self-diagnosed as seasonal insanity. It results in the constant urge to laugh at things that, in the sunlight, may not have been the least bit funny. In other words, I’ve had an extended case of the rainy day weirds.

Overall I would say that I have adjusted fairly well, but I am looking forward to a break in this weather and, if nothing else, a possible rain day off from school. Despite these adjustments, I have come to agree with Ariel’s general sentiment. Life underwater is definitely not a fun thing. It’s cold and moldy and your fingers are always wrinkled. And I don’t even have the added benefit of a crustacean sidekick. Nope, Disney can keep his underwater paradise. As for this princess, I’d like to return to land sometime soon.

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