Vatia is a small village on the northern side of Tutuila, the main island of American Samoa. It is at the end of the one road that travels over the mountain. Mt. Alava Elementary is literally at the end of the road. Vatia is set on a bay, aptly named Vatia Bay. The village has one paved road that runs along the water to the school. Then, it has several dirt roads that branch off. These roads look more like drives into a family's compound, so for the longest time, I did not realize that Vatia was as deep off the main road as it actually is. In this small town, there are five distinct churches - LMS (London Missionary Society), Methodist, Mormon, Pentacostal, and one other whose denomination I do not know. There are 3 stores, but I have only ever found 2. Now, I use the word "store" loosely. My housemate, Leslie, described it best when she said that it's like playing store when you're little. People open the windows to their houses, and there's a room lined with shelves sparsely filled with canned goods. It's a crapshoot whether they'll have what you want, or even what they advertise.
There are two buses that service Vatia - Sam's bus and Craig's bus. Craig's bus is the first to leave town, from right behind my house, at 7am. Sam's bus leaves sometime after that, but I haven't figured out when. The buses go back and forth across the mountain at irregular intervals. There's usually a bus out of my village every 3 hours or so. On weekdays, the last bus coming back to Vatia is at 5pm, if it decides to run. This is Sam's bus. Sometimes, Sam doesn't make this last trip. On Saturdays (if the bus runs at all on Saturday), the last bus back to Vatia leaves town at 2pm. Transportation, therefore, is very hard to come by. I miss the motos of Togo! If I want to come back to Vatia outside of the hours the bus runs (or if the bus decides not to run), I go to the town of Aua and sit on a wall at the bottom of the mountain road. Eventually, someone comes by and offers a ride. I absolutely love going over the mountain in the back of a pickup truck. (I love riding in the back of a pickup truck anytime, actually) The views are gorgeous going up and down, and it's nice to take a break from the world for 30 minutes or so. Getting out of Vatia without a bus, I just wait at the edge of the village for someone to offer a ride. It takes time, but eventually someone does come by.
In all, Vatia is becoming a nice place to live. It definitely takes a while to get warmed up to its charms and its people, but the natural beauty is breathtaking from first sight.