Talofa Tuesday

Talofa Tuesday
Apia, Samoa

Apia, Samoa


It’s 9am in Apia, and a siren rings through the streets. Tsunami warning? Relax, it’s the alarm to start work. That’s how laxed the culture is, the capital city needs an alarm to signal the commencement of work at 9am, and cessation of lunch, at 1pm (funny, there is not an alarm for the beginning of lunch…) This morning I’m taking in the sites along the Island Crossover Rd (this road cuts through the middle of Upolu). Not far out of Apia, my first stop is the botanical gardens. Don’t be fooled, it’s a rainforest walk, not a garden stroll. This “garden” is known as Vailima National Reserve, is home of Mt Vaea; the burial ground of famous author Robert Louis Stevenson. There’s even a Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, but it’s not on my list of things to do. The “garden” loop is 2.8kms and leisurely enough that I do it in thongs however, wearing alternative footwear is advisable (it was muddy). In sweltering heat and high humidity, it’s evident I haven’t gone to the gym in a couple of months. The view from Mt Vaea is notable, with Apia Harbour and the coastline clearly visible. Back to the car and onto the next site, Papapapai-Uta Waterfall. It’s a viewpoint into a giant valley, where the waterfall flows (not reachable unless you get helicoptered in). Now on the Southern side of Upolu, at “The Coastal Walk”, as I pull up and cut the motor, I hear the sound of thunder rolling. Being a tropical climate, there’s a high possibility of a storm. A few minutes walking the trail and I’ve reach the coast line. The waves roll in, playing the cliffs like a drum (So much for a storm). I follow the trail further, through the pandanus forest that lines the black, volcanic rock cliffs that are the coastline. Peering over the edge, I watch the water churning violently below. The ocean rushes up the cliff face to perspire all over me. It’s cool and refreshing… A salt spray sprinkler system. No sooner do I turn away turn from the water view, and I’m suddenly drenched. From a welcoming, light, sea spray, to a full blown ocean dumping… You stand on the edge, and you’re bound to get wet. (Luckily my camera was safe in its bag). It’s hot, and I’m in need of a swim. Next stop, the Togitogiga Waterfall. Togitogiga Falls are small, and not overly impressive, but unlike the Papapapai-Uta falls, they get points for being accessible to swim in. On the way back to Apia, in the village of Lotofaga, I stop in at another natural water feature, Fuipisia Falls. It took everything in me, not to jump… but without knowing the water depth at the bottom of this 55 metre drop, it would be foolish, as I didn’t take out travel or life insurance… (Kids, make sure you get travel insurance). The sealed road has turned to a gravel road and the gravel road has turned into a grass driveway in a field. It dawns upon me, I’m not in Kansas anymore. A self generated “wrong way, turn back” sign pops up. U-turn and I’ve hit a road block. Two wheel barrows, filled with coconuts and two boys. Great. One boy comes to my window, madly hacks a coconut with his machete and hands it to me. Coconut water. Machetes in Samoa are what iPads are to young Australians. Every kid needs and wants one. Problem: My vehicle doesn’t have drink holders to accommodate a full sized coconut. The boy demands $10 tala. I give him $5 tala ($2.50 AUD) and as I look back in the rear view mirror, I see the boys jumping around like the $5 tala I gave them was $5 million tala. I get the feeling I’ve been swindled. On the (correct) road again, and would you believe one of the villages I drive through is called “Solosolo”? Riding Solo via Solosolo. So solo, they named it twice… How fitting. I suppose that’s where I’d live, if I was a resident of Samoa… #Lol Samoa would have to be one of the safest places to holiday or live… So why do I feel like the last antelope on the Savannah? It could be the hissing, the kissing sounds, the taunting, the “baby’s”, “darlings”, “I love you’s” or the general inquisition of the young Samoan males in Apia (especially when they’re in packs, at night). SWF. Single, white, female. I don’t know if these guys realise their behaviour is mildly predatory and very unwelcome. I walk to Apia Marina for dinner. The girl who serves me, Sita, answers some of my questions about Samoa. Like, who owns the boats mored in the Marina? And, who is Mr Lava Lava? Apparently, none of the boats mored in Apia harbour are owned by Samoans. The biggest boat, belongs to an American from Utah. Sita tells me “Mr Lava Lava” is a secondhand clothes stores. Still, Shaggy is playing in my mind. Sita is from the village of Saleaula, near the lava fields, on the big island of Savai’i (where I’ll be visiting in a few days). I told her of my flight to Samoa, with the passengers headed to their reunion (I mainly complained about the crying children). Sita told me her family reunion will be at Christmas and a total of 600 family members will be flying to Samoa, from all over the world to attend. That’s not a reunion, that’s a summit! Think about the number of bananas and coconuts they’ll consume… *For anyone thinking about travelling to Samoa in December, DON’T! Samoa will be full up… and it’s the wet season.

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