Greetings from Samoa (again) – Digital Postcard Delivery

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Talofa again from Samoa!

As predicted last week from the first few days, Samoa has been absolutely stunning. Like, in a life-changing kind of way. I don’t mean to be cheesy about it, that’s just how it is. I literally teared up at one point watching the huge, beaming smiles during a traditional dance show because their happiness, their smiles, it’s all so real and genuine, it’s kind of overwhelming.

9 days in Samoa. It’s felt like a lifetime and it’s felt like an instant. I think I can best describe it not by the activities and sights, but how it has made me feel. Think about a really special hug you’ve had in your life. It might have been joyful, or from a significant other, or family or friend, or maybe even tenderness in a time of sorrow. But think about that hug. How it felt. How you felt wrapped up by it. Enveloped in it. Protected by it. Warmed. Moved. Loved.

That’s what Samoa feels like.

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The first half of the week I explored Savai’i. I stayed in beach fales around the island, which are basically open-air structures (think gazebo) that have panels that drop down at night. When the tide rises, the waves crash at the foot of the steps. Oh, and they’re super cheap and include breakfast and dinner. I took local buses and hitchhiked around. On Tuesday, while waiting for a taxi to take me into one of the villages (it was WAY too hot already to hoof it), I was chatting with a local. He offered a ride and when we got to the canopy walkway, he decided that since he’d never done it, he would join me. He then joined me for the rest of the day, going to the tourist spots, but also showing me some local spots. I asked if he had to get back to work and he said that he would finish work when he finished worked, first he was going to make sure I was taken care of, and that’s the Samoan way.

The canopy walkway leads to a century+ old tree that you climb all the way up (at least 10 stories) to get a killer view.

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On Savai’i I hung with the locals, swam with turtles, climbed trees, visited blowholes, swam in waterfalls, and basically, fell in love with Samoa. Then I headed back to Upolu to catch the start of the Teuila Festival. This is an annual festival of dance, fire knife dancing, long boat racing, and general celebration of Samoan culture. Oh yeah, and it’s free. This year, the festival timing lines up with Samoa’s hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games, which will feature sports and teams from 75+ countries. The teams were just starting to arrive as I left (and it was getting busy).

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On Upolo, I went to the Teuila Festival, learned about Samoan culture, history and heritage during a full day at the Cultural Village (a must-do and FREE), went to the To Sua Ocean Trench, laughed and danced and ate as much palusami as I could get my hands on, and oh, got a traditionally done Samoan tattoo by one of two Samoans in the world who are allowed to hold the chief title of tattoo artist. He can only pass that chief title on to family and is invited to tattoo conventions all over the world. (Samoa is credited with inventing that tattoo and the men’s tattoo covers most of their body, while the women’s uses slightly less ink)

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On my last night I was sitting at the hostel and saw two girls headed out, dressed up and got their attention. Are you going out? Can I go with you? Then danced the night away with two girls visiting Samoa from American Samoa for a little holiday to get away. Got to love finishing with a ladies’ night.

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Tofa!

Lovingly,

Jess

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