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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Savai'i

SAMOA | Saturday, 22 October 2016 | Views [292]

My plan for this trip went something like this: use ‘Upolu as a base and go to, in order by priority and degree of difficulty from hardest to easiest: Tokelau, American Samoa, and Savai’i. With Tokelau scratched until at least next week I thought I’d make a run for Savai’i sooner rather than later. Until yesterday I stayed at Faofao fales and I absolutely enjoyed my stay. When you think about it, a week in a fale is very affordable especially when they provide dinner and breakfast. Two days ago I got a message from a lovely lady named Rachel: an expat Kiwi who is a travel writer and yoga instructor. She’s a photographer’s dream with a stunning figure and gorgeous olive-coloured skin. She invited me to a children’s event called “Art on a Plate” where children design things with fruits and vegetables.

I’m glad I made the detour to Apia to meet her because she invited me to a yoga session at the Tanoa Hotel slated for 6:30 AM. In Samoa, you have to do anything active (bicycling, jogging, yoga, etc.) before the heat of the day. When I met Rachel yesterday she seemed really stressed but today she was much more relaxed. My wish for Samoa s to be invited in by a local family for a night or two, and Rachel said “if you’re hitchhiking round Savai’i, that’s bound to happen. Friday morning yoga is excellent but I really have to work on my asanas. Rachel specializes in the “rapid fire” where you inhale to 3/4 of your breathing capacity and exhale in very short breaths. Energized, we clasped our hands together with a “namaste” and then sat down for Tanoa’s buffet breakfast. Loaded up with toast, bacon, orange juice, fruit, and coffee, it was a great start to the day! With my inner self aligned to go with my caffeine fix, I wandered the fish market. My feet are so bit up and itchy; in addition to mozzies there is little escape from ants, flies, and cockroaches. Well, I escaped them temporarily as I used the free hour of wifi at the Sheraton.  

At noon I headed toward the bus station to catch the bus to the Savai’i ferry. Samoan taxi drivers can be rather pushy; they constantly toot their horn at me, and when I jumped in a taxi to the bus station, the driver tried to convince me to allow him to drive me to the ferry. The buses are very cheap here; the most expensive bus trip costs only about 7 tala and they’re a fun way to explore the islands. The ferry is inexpensive at only 12 tala, and quite a few vehicles are fit onto it.

At 2 PM, the ferry set sail for Savai’i, which is often called the “Cradle of the Pacific.” At the back of the boat, I hung my feet over the side to touch the sea with glee. At 3:30 PM I was in Savai’i. In Samoan, an apostrophe means there’s a glottal stop (as in “uh-oh”). Though I've been to many Pacific countries, only in Fiji and Samoa have I been to more than one island. Fresh off the boat, I had a delicious Samoan BBQ lunch in a little ramshackle café across from the wharf. From there, I was unsure where I was going. Sometimes the best plan is no plan. With my thumb out, I got a short lift to a village about 5 km north where I played football on the side of the road with a couple of local boys. There I was picked up by four ladies: Tausala, Sieva, Fiti, and Taele. Tausala is a mother of five and owner of a small shop, and Sieva is a prayer leader. All week I wished for few nights in a Samoan home, and Rachel’s words came true! Tausala said “would you like to stay at our home?” I said I’d really like that, and I offered to pick some stuff up for dinner but she said there’s already plenty of food at the house.  Since all land in Samoa is family-owned and there are no cemeteries, it’s common for people to bury their loved ones in their front yard. Tausala’s mother is buried directly in front of their home.

Last night was a weekly prayer meeting with singing held by Sieva. From Samoa to Costa Rica, Ethiopia to Korea, and beyond, Jesus Christ has proliferated the world as much as (or more than) Coca-Cola, rice, and mobile phones. Christianity reached Samoa in 1830, first in Savai’i. “This is the ‘Blessed Isle’” said Tausala. Maloafua is Tausala’s son, and Utupo is an older man who I chatted to as mutton was being cooked over an open fire burning with coconut shells. Dinner was a nice one of mutton, taro, pumpkin with tuna, and breadfruit. Certainly I’ve had no shortage of food! Earlier in this trip I felt as if Samoans aren’t as welcoming and hospitable as in other Pacific countries but that feeling has changed. Tonight I was treated and fed like a king.

Later in the evening, dozens of children converged upon the house and the fiery singing began. After last night, I see that Samoans worship Christ more than any other people I’ve observed. As a powerful rainstorm brewed during the wee hours, many people were still fervently singing and praising Christ. Sieva told me earlier that I’m a “gift of God” and that she asked Tausala to turn around and pick me up.

Today was really full on! And after today I realize Samoans are some of the most hospitable people around. For this next week I’ll be roamin’ round Savai’i.

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