Monday, June 29, 2009

Twenty-five percent

We have now officially completed one quarter of our summer research. This morning, we held our second session with our first group of ten children. We collected our final bits of data and took back the activity monitors they had been wearing all week. While we won't have any informaiton on the urine analysis for quite some time, we were able to immediately upload the data from the activity monitors. Incredibly, eight of the ten kids wore the activity belts the majority of the time - a good indication that our study may very well positively prove feasibility. But we'll have to wait a while to know for sure.

In truth, our success is only possible because of the generous help we are receiving from our Samoan research partners. They have not only helped us translate and ask both parents and children questions, but they have welcomed us into their churches and homes to carry out our project. This morning, for the second time Sharon's mother made us a true Samoan breakfast - this time coconut rice. We were all so greatful for Sharon's hospitality, and I know that having their help and support made our work with the children easier. On Wednesday morning, we start with our second of four cohorts of kids (each lasts 1 week) in Marie's village of Alofau.

This weekend was a rather lazy one. On Saturday, we returned to Larson's beach, where, for the first time, we were not the only ones there. However, becasue the beach requires a 20-minute hike to get there, only Palagis (white folks) go, and so we knew everyone there. I remembered to bring my goggles this time, so I actually got a chance to explore the coral around the beach alcove. Not the most beautiful "snorkling" (sans snorkel), but still a lot of cool fish and tons of sea cucumbers. After our beach excursion, we spent the night out at a Mexican-themed Palagi party just down the road, which proved to be a lot of fun.

On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at Oscar's house for a swim in his pool and a barbeque. The food was beyond delicious, so none of us went home hungry. It was late by the time we got home, so after laundrey and a movie (Enchanted), we hit the hay.

Today, after our research work, we headed into town to try out paddling at the Pago Pago Yacht Club. Paddling is a common South Pacific sport, and there are many competitive races on surrounding islands (Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, etc). We were introduced to this activity by Amity, a Brown graduate in charge of an alcohol study here on the island, but it turns out many of the Palagis we have met paddle just about every afternoon. The boats sit six people each, and resemble a crew boat with an added pontoon suspended from the left side for stability. We each borrowed a wooden paddle (just a wide canoe paddle) for the afternoon. Paddling is very straightforward, and so after a 2-minute training we took our positions in the boats and headed out onto Pago harbor. In addition to being a great upper body workout, we got a great look at Pago harbor not from the coastline. This was our first time really getting out on the water (except for our ferry to and from Aunu'u), so it felt really nice to be back in a boat. After we pulled the boat back out of the water, we got to sit outside and enjoy a cold beer from the Yacht club bar.

We all definitely plan to return for some more paddling, maybe even tomorrow. I also found out that there's often sailing on Sunday afternoons. While I'm sure it won't compare to navigating the Sunfish at our lakehouse with my first mate/dog, I am very excited to try out some ocean sailing.

Meanwhile, we are all pumped for our trip to Western Samoa, where we plan to explore and relax on the beautiful beaches. Yes, this really is the life.

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