Aside from our little episode with the marina and Port Authority…Samoa is a very beautiful place with lots to offer tourists. They are really making an effort to put themselves on the map and get more tourists to their islands.
There are two islands in the Samoa group. The most inhabited island is Upolu where the capital, Apia, is located. The larger island, Savai’i is more rural and rarely visited by cruising boats due to the difficulty in getting there and returning to the Capital island where you have to check out.
The Samoa Tourism Center is very involved in the islands culture and has a huge interest in keeping it alive and sharing it with tourists….for free. The center hosts a show Monday-Thursday sharing examples of the Fa’a, or Samoan way of life. Fa’a is based around family, religion and communal living. Samoans, as well as most pacific island cultures, depend on the entire family to contribute to the village life to make it work. This can be seen in the way the Samoans live with many smaller homes surrounding a large raised lanai where everyone eats and sits around for socializing.
The show starts with some palm weaving where we all made plates for the feast at the end. The colorful host is decked out in Samoan traditional dress and displays his hard earned marks of the full body tattoo that many young men undergo. He explained the cooking ritual as a man’s task as it involves hard work and heavy lifting. The food is prepared and cooked in an Umu or underground oven. Traditional dancing followed and CB was brought up to the stage to strut his stuff….I think that other guy may be grabbing his booty! There is a wood working shop where villagers come to carry on the art of carving kava bowls too.
Traditionally, women raised the kids, kept them in line and taught the Fa’a. The village centers were where the women gathered during the day to make Tapa (click here for more info.) and traditional Samoan printed cloth for clothing. The making of Tapa cloth was demonstrated for us. Wheeew, that is no small feat. There are many steps involved, but the beating of the bark to turn it into cloth, as shown here, is a sweat inducing practice. These tapas range from wall sized to small sheet size and all involve the same process. In the end, we all got to sit around and eat a sample of a Samoan meal from our personally woven plates…CB is a bit dubious about the breadfruit.
We only spent a week in Samoa, but manager to see quite a lot. We rented a car with the Brits and took off on what can only be described as a hysterical adventure. But they travel like we do…and we saw a ton of shit!!!
Samoa is your typical tropical paradise. Dark and light green forest backdrops give way to amazing waterfalls and stunning flowers. A hike down to the falls always ended in a cool swim in a fresh water pool. The villages and grounds around the island were strikingly clean and well kept. Word has it there is a competition with a monetary prize awarded at the end of each year that pits village against village for who has the cleanest and most beautiful grounds. The competition must be stiff, because all of the villages were alight with carefully manicured lawns and gardens.
This is the To Sua Ocean Trench. Set inland some 1/4 mile from the ocean, a large sink hole opens up into a clean saltwater pool that is filled from a hole in the back of the cave where ocean swell fills in to form this swimming hole. Apparently at high tide people jump off the ladder into the pool. I find this daunting as we were there at lowish tide and you could not even jump off the platform as you would hit bottom…with only a 3-4 foot tidal range…I am not sure I would attempt the jump!
Like I said…absolutely a breath taking place!
With jungle rivers, rainbow clad shores and fresh and salt water swimming holes, there is not much more you could ask for in an island paradise.
With only one week to spend here, we feel we still got a good dose of the Fa’a! There is lot to love about Samoa, and a place I would have liked to explore more. Oh well, you can’t see and do everything…although we sure do try our best.
We left out of Apia, Samoa en route to Fiji and had what may have been one of our best passages yet….definitely our fastest!!!
Stay tuned for updates on Fiji.