Salelologa, Samoa Western
The sun fills the sky, and like the flick of a switch, the lagoon illuminates for another day. I walk to the Jetover Hotel, to pick up my rental vehicle. The young girl at reception, Lani, asks if I have my Samoan licence… “No, sorry.. I have my Australian one”, I tell her. She is hesitant and says, “you will get in trouble by the police if you get pulled over….. But it’s Sunday, the police don’t work on Sunday”, she smiles and I’m good to go… Until my vehicle is deemed as “not safe”, so another has to be arranged. Only problem is, the lady running the rental company is in church. Lani, speaks to the rental lady, stressing the high possibility of me leaving a bad online review which got a positive reaction. Chatting to Lani while waiting for my vehicle, she asked what religion I was. I told her “I don’t have one”. Lani said, “I wish I was palagi (white person), no belief, I could save to go on holidays but we (Samoans) have to give money to church and family. How old are you?”. I reply, “I’m old…. 28”. Lani is shocked, “I thought you were 21” she exclaims. I like this girl. Lani tells my about her daughter, Sovereignty, who she has to a now “ex boyfriend”, who went to New Zealand after she fell pregnant, was with another woman, and never came back. This scenario is beginning to seem common with young Samoans. In the confines of Samoa, they are dedicated to their religion, and families, but outside Samoa, in larger countries (pretty much any country.. Samoa is small), when faced with temptations and western culture, they crumble into adultery, and something religion refers to as, “sin”. Two hours later, I got my new rental vehicle, thanked Lani, and went on my way, to tour Savai’i. The radio station I’ve been listening to whilst driving is, for want of a better word, interesting. Many renditions of Ed Sheeran songs, a Samoan choir remix of Fergie’s “My Humps” and local Samoan songs with lyrics like, “I’m drinking rum, and red bull bla bla bla act a fool”… Here is a link to one I found on YouTube.. http://youtu.be/7UlsOskl1Hw There’s no one around, (not even Police), because they’re all attending their white parties aka church, allowing me to travel at my own speed limit; no limit. On a remote gravel road, I pullover, and walk through a coconut palm forest that opens out to a private, black rock beach. The coast is clear, in all senses of the word. The tide is out, allowing me hours to dance across the lavascape, exploring the rock pools as I go. Marine life is in abundance. In amongst the rock pools, are hidden pockets of crushed coral sands, where I can freely bake my buns and soak up the sun. This, is what, I’m about. Uninterrupted, unclothed, glory days. Driving away, leaving my private pocket of paradise, I notice the gravel road transitioning into more of a tropical, narrow, sand track. Where am I? And why didn’t I bring water or snacks? I’m parched. Being a Sunday, shops aren’t open until after 4 or 5 (if at all) and I haven’t passed any natural water sources around the Northern/ North West areas of Savai’i. Something I have passed, is about a dozen large horses, tied up in front yards, mowing the grass with their giant horse mouths. Smart Samoans. According to my map, I’d say I’m 45 minutes away from completing my circumnavigation of Savai’i. In the distance, I spot a couple of hitch hikers. The roads aren’t being frequented by much traffic and local buses aren’t running either so, I’m morally obligated to pick them up. The hitch hikers, a French couple, Johanna and Nicholi, are residing in New Zealand. Nicholi is a carpenter & Joanna works in Projects. They had $500 tala stolen while sleeping on a beach one a few nights ago. Since then, they’ve been staying with assorted Samoan families, trying to make their way to an atm. I’m borderline delirious from not having any fluids today. Then, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; a shop, and it’s open! Like a crazy stunt driver, I slam on the breaks and make an emergency stop. Finally, I can buy water. Maybe there is a god. Nicholi has $7 tala and with baked goods going cheap, he asks the shop attendant for 4 buns that are baked in a mass puddle of coconut cream (similar to bread n butter pudding). “Make it 6 buns”, Nicholi says. I offer Jo and Nick some coins, assuming they need it more than I, but they politely decline. Back in Salelologa, I go through the only set of traffic lights in the whole of Savai’i. One set of traffic lights, on the whole island! I drop Jo and Nick near a hostel, bidding them farewell and good luck before going back to Lucia’s, for my final evening in Savai’i, and Samoa. The sun sets and in its place rose the most magnificent ball of light; the full moon. Accompanied by clouds and palm tree silhouettes, it’s the most magical moon I’ve ever seen to date. This moon, is the kind to be marvelled at, and it’s light, the kind to be danced and romanced in (I only participate in the marvelling).