Talofa from beautiful Samoa!
“Can we call you our sister?”
That has basically summed up every Samoan interaction I have had thus far. I am blown away by this country, and its people. Last week’s card was pretty meh, basically because the week and I were pretty meh. Travel, like so many other things, has a way of crediting and debiting you in terms of energy and spirit. It wasn’t until my “account” was charged back up that I realized how low it had gotten. The boat and those miles covered by it were a big drain (not to say at all that the experiences were a “drag”, but it taxed me). I charged back up in Fiji, and pulled off another allergic reaction.
Samoa has more than recharged my batteries. I’ve been here just more than 2 full days and am teeming with my love for it! This country has quickly shot to the top of my list in terms of friendliness and warmth, feeling of safety, overall culture, and so much more. The island is, of course, beautiful. Stunning really. The first thing I noticed on the ride in from the airport was how well kept every lawn, every hedge, every point where property touches the street is. In each yard and off of each schoolhouse waves a string of flags (a few days later I’ve learned that everyone decorated with the little strings of pennant-style flags to celebrate the All Blacks playing in Samoa for the first time in league history, just a month ago). The other, smaller, island nations I’ve visited show remnants of evangelists coming and building, but nothing has been kept up. In Samoa, everything is kept pristine.
But it’s the people who have made the impression. Today is Sunday and I sit waiting for the ferry to Savai’I, the “big” island. I sit with a belly and a heart full because the workers at the wharf invited me up for “toonai.” Eating together with family on Sunday is extremely important to Samoans. And those who are at work, rather than home, do so with their coworkers. I’m happy to have joined them to share in each other’s company on a Sunday afternoon, and to get to try taro and palusami (this, I will need more of before I leave). A family headed to the airport gave me a ride to the wharf, after seeing me sit, waiting for a bus that never came.
Yesterday had me smiling ear to ear after starting off with a tour of Robert Louis Stevenson’s house (yes, that RLS). He was so inspired by Samoa that he moved here and the Samoans so valued his contribution that they have made a beautiful song of the poem on his gravestone. From there, I went to the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve for some swim and snorkeling. It started off very cloudy and I thought I couldn’t expect much for a place that cost less than $2. But then I got to the coral and jackpot! I’m not going to say it was better than the Great Barrier Reef, but as you can see in the video, the fish were friendlier (this little guy kept tapping the camera), plus I didn’t get stung by a jelly.
“You are definitely in Samoa” another traveler, an Aussie, said to me in the hotel. In my mind I just though, “duh, we’re all in Samoa,” but before I could react, he continued. “I can see it in the way you walk, you’re just at ease; peaceful. You’re in Samoa. You’re here.” That was my lesson for the week. When you are somewhere – be there. Be there so much that people around you can’t help but notice.