There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson, Tuisitala (the Story Teller) . Travel writer of the 1800’s and Author of Treasure Island.
Salty “Talofa” on the breeze.
In a humid country of cooling southeast trades you can hear the call of forever peace, that is Samoa. A turquoise starfish understates the tranquil life of lagoon dwellers. We shelter from the surging seas and wallow in shallows so clear, invisible. I swim alongside an ancient green turtle. Float freely in a crater of bawdy, glamorous coral.
The Navigator Kings.
The ancient story tells of celestial navigators who traversed Oceania from the north. By reading the waves, the winds and the heavens they found Samoa and settled on the big island of Savaii and on the smaller island Upolu. Now, open charred fields are strewn with plates of hardened lava from a century past volcano. The jungled ridges reach to paradisical proportions and the banyan trees dominate the forested skyline.
A Family Feeling.
Native women bathe fully clothed in the aquifers by the sea. They have walled and pooled the natural seeping springs, mingling fresh and salt on the shore line. My babbling excited child-host gambols over and under the wet backs of our sunshine family. He is happy and revered, a future matai.
On a dusty beach road of the rainforest island the scented silence is broken by a startled, home bound piglet. He darts and scrambles, squealing as we crash tackle our feast before he escapes to the shadows. Village fires send umu smoke signals. Hot rocks, yams, suckling pigs in banana leaves. We break our breadfruit together on the grass.
Tiny clams and oily redfish are the morsels of desire. Crispy fried diamonds of fins and tails. No waste. My host is generous and rightly proud of his staff. They make sumptuous our bed and fan the heat away. They sing and laugh in a shy, happy way.
The Big Island market town is all hustle and sweat. An errant teen sneakily swipes a pair of sunglasses. His tribe take care of the misdeed in the private yard of a parking lot. He won’t repeat his action.
90 degrees in the shade of a plaited palm roof, we prepare for Church on Sunday, dressed all in white. Covering shoulders and legs in modest respect of customs and harmony. Chorals of gospel, chanting and reverence swelter in a glorious wave of faith. We surrender quietly to the midday siesta.
Sunday is for church and football. We cheer the sweaty, winning team as they pass by on the tray back of a smoky old lorry, dogs and children jostling behind.
Evening bells played on rusty dive bottles hanging from the kapok trees, announce a time for thanks. Sit where you are and pray. Later four long bellows on a trident shell call us in for supper. Dining at sunset over water tonight with stories of friendship formed through cyclones, volcanoes swallowing the taro plantations and fierce tattooed warriors protecting their tribes from invasions of a European war.
By nightfall the singing is softer, the breeze cooler, the peace profound. We eat food from the sea and sleep in thatched huts on the beach. Dreamy, beautiful, lush and perfumed by ylang ylang and frangipani.
You are invited.
To relax on the sand, to feed the giant turtles, to hurl coconuts into powerful blowholes, to snorkel the liquid glass of fringing reefs. Divers tell us secrets of underwater lava tubes and sleeping tiger sharks in the infinite visibility conditions. “Sekia, sekia” it’s all good.
My mind is full with petals and perfume and peace. My hair is adorned with the flowers of friendship. I left my heart in Samoa.
Longitude; 13 degrees 35 S
Latitude; 172 degrees 20 W
Name of Airport; Faleolo International Airport
Currency; Tala WST
Dialling Code; dial 011 + 685 + phone number
Airport tax; International
Temperature; 27 to 36 degrees celsius
Climate; Tropical all year round with a hotter, wetter season from November to April. This is also commonly cyclone season.
Languages spoken by the locals; Gagana Fa’a Samoa and English
Hello… Talofa or Malo
Goodbye…Tofa or Soifua
Thank You… Fa’afetai
Distance from Airport to City; 40km
Capital City; Apia
Local Transport; Open bus, hire car, hire car with driver, taxi and in the back of a passing truck and regular daily ferries between islands.
Local Beer; Vailima.
Food; Great food, Atmosphere and Live Music at the Apia Yacht Club. Many fine street cafes.
Affordability; Samoa can be as inexpensive as you are adventurous. And then there is the luxury too.
- Piula Cave Pool swim with the black fish in turquoise water below the monastery on the cliff.
- Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and Memorial. Loved by the Samoan people, ‘Tuisitala’s’ home has been reverently preserved by his local friends.
- Apia Markets are the biggest with most variety in cooked and fresh food and local crafts.
- Alofaaga Blowholes on the south tip.
- The Banyan Tree Climb near Asau on the north coast.
- Cape Falealupo on the north west tip, witness the first sunset of everyday.
Our Secret Hideaway; Manono is a speck of an island between the two main islands of Samoa. Tiny Manono is my favorite place on earth… no cars, no dogs. A real, living tropical paradise. You can walk around the island in one hour, but you might like to take a week to call in and visit with the friendly local families. Catch a local ‘alia’ across to Manono from Upolu but book your accommodation first.
Find out about travel insurance for Samoa here.
Tell me what you think about this little Samoa story in the comments section below.
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