Apia, Samoa Western
My plane flew out of Aus at 9:30pm and is due to land at 5:15am, Samoa time (3 hours ahead of Aus?). The passengers on my flight consisted of 95% Maori/ Samoan/ Islanders who I might add, are generally not small, or quiet. I’d overheard a passenger mention there was a family reunion going on.. This explained the high ratio of Samoans on the flight. The only spare seat on the plane was the one between me, and the other gentleman in my row. Praise the lord! I’d managed to snag a direct, 4 hour flight to Samoa, with a spare seat beside me…. Meaning I’d only have to endure 4 hours of children crying, running the isles and making enough noise to rival the plane engines. Yay!… What’s the term for acute claustrophobia bought on by being surrounded by children? Knowing I’m chasing dawn with no sleep and a cracking headache under my belt, I curl up in the foetal position to try and catch some zzz’s before landing. The flight landed about half an hour early and it’s black as night with stars in the sky. The Samoa (pronounced Sah- mowah) customs and baggage collection is the most laxed I’ve encountered to date (in the way of security and processing time). The Samoan men are all smiles and waves, treating every woman as a jet lagged princess… You’d think I’ve been on a plane for 24 hours, not 4. There’s a shuttle that runs to the town of Apia, (the capital, where I’m staying for a few days), so I jump into the shuttle under the cover of darkness and half an hour later, I jump out of the shuttle, into the day light, and through the doors of my hostel, the Pasefika Inn. To my surprise, my dorm only has one other occupant… A Samoan gent, who lives and works on the other Island of Savai’i (pronounced Sav-eye). He’s here on the Island of Upolu, in Apia, for a break. Putting aside exhaustion and sleep deprivation, I ask the lady at the hostel if there are any day tours running or places I can hire a car. To my disappointment, she informs me that there are none, as it’s Sunday, and on Sunday, Samoans go to church. I take a walk down the road and find a car rental place open for business and take immediate advantage by getting a 2 door Rav 4 for the day. That set me back $160 tala or $75 aud (tala is the Samoan currency). With a map I can’t read in one hand and a camera I don’t yet know how to operate in the other, it’s time to hit the road and get fast n furious Samoa style… Aka, I’m doing a top speed of 55kmph averaging 30kmph. Samoans are verrrrrrrryyyy relaxed and the speed limits reflect their pace. S stands for Samoa… And Slow, or sleepy, or snails pace or snack time… It does not stand for speedy, no sir, not in Samoa. Driving down the road, I stop to take some happy snaps. The voices of dozens of Samoan angels echo through the air and into my ears… That’s right, on Sunday, Samoans go to church. From what I can see, the Samoa version of “church” is more like the biggest white party musical I’ve ever seen or heard. Literally, everyone here is dressed in their Sunday best (all white attire). I wouldn’t consider myself a godly woman and the fact that I only own 3 items of white clothing (a bikini, tee and a coat), reaffirms, I shouldn’t enter the church. I’d look like the Grim Reaper of this white party…. Where did I put that white tee.. Driving on through the next town/ village and I spot another white party! Only it’s being held in a Church I’ve affectionately named “Jesus Christ Superstar”… God/ Jesus/ The Big Guy has a few houses in every town, and in Samoa, he’s bigger than Bieber (before Bieber dabbled in hookers and drugs). He’s got these people in a frenzy. Travelling at stalker speed (because I’m legally required to) there are many people by the road walking to and from church. They all smile and wave.. Especially the children. The first few times I waved and smiled back… then I had to reign it in, to avoid physical exhaustion and muscle fatigue, in my arms, and my face. I haven’t been to the gym in a while and don’t want to go all out on my first day here. The beaches and roads are lined with 2 things in Samoa. Coconut palms and Fales. A Fale is a structure more common than a church here and to the unknowing, would appear to be an open plan shack. Predominantly made from large tree branches, they sport thatched or iron roofs and are used as napping stations or chill pads?? Okay, I had to look this one up – See below: “Fale is the Samoan word for all types of houses, from small to large. In general, traditional Samoan architecture is characterised by an oval or circular shape, with wooden posts holding up a domed roof. There are no walls. The base of the architecture is a skeleton frame”. My scenery began changing and the roads that hugged the seaside, were now winding up into the hillside. My eyes started to close. Time for a roadside kip. Cut to, it’s 2 hours later and time to get my motor running. Navigating around Samoa is not hard. There are very few roads, so I’m feeling my way to where I want to go.. And reading the road signs. To Sua! In Samoa “Tu Sua” translates to “large hole” but to say this place was a large hole would be like a black man calling Nicki Minaj’s bum small. Right next door to beach cliff paradise, there’s a mirage (not Minaj!), an oasis… All you have to do, is let your eyes follow the lush tropical foliage trickling down the sides of this perfectly scooped space until you meet that crystal jelly, green, ocean pool at the bottom. If the visual doesn’t get you going and you want to get close and personal, climb down the ladder into the water beneath, or just jump from the top of the ladder (at high tide of course). This is ocean dreamscaping and wanderlusting at its finest.