Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Holiday in the Other Samoa

We did not have to work on Columbus Day - yes Samoans celebrate Columbus Day, not sure why, but I don't ask these kinds of questions - in fact, Samoans celebrate most holidays. I get a total of 13 paid holidays in addition to the 24 vacation days. nice, huh. Anyway, due to the long weekend a group of us decided to go to Independent Samoa. Independent Samoa, or Indy Samoa, is a 35 minute plane ride from American Samoa. It has the same cultural heritage as Am. Sam. but thanks to the wonderful system of colonialism, the island chain was divided between the Germans and the United States. good times.
The final head count was 14 people - I guess palagis like to travel in packs.
The Palagi Crew - Back Row: Sharon, Ben, Gonzolo, Nate, Maximo, Jonas & Niki. Front Row: Jeff & Meredith, and Sebastian (seabass). Not pictured: Fred, Steve, Taylor and me.

We all arrived on Friday - most in the morning, but I got a late afternoon flight. I am still adjusting to flight travel in Samoa. I only had one bag, which is rare for Samoan travel, most families take the maximum amount of luggage and it is normally at the maximum weight. It is also necessary to get weighed, so they can evenly place the weight on the plane. Security is also fun, we walked around the X-ray machine and after a quick glance at my bag, I got on the plane.
My usual nickname of Weaver or Weave has been quickly adopted by my friends here, but in Samoa - it is THE Weave. I guess cause I am a "High Clerk" I get an article in front of my name. I mention this because as soon as I got out of customs, I heard shouts of THE Weave through out the terminal. Most everyone at the airport turned to look at the celebrity - me. The group picked me up at the airport in the taxi van we had rented for the weekend. There is no greater ride in Samoa then a 14 person taxi van.

Maximo drove the entire weekend, god bless him

Ben waiting at the local 7-11 for supplies - mainly Vailima Beer. We made regular stops.

After the airport pickup, we headed to Papasee'a Sliding Rock. It is an old lava field where one can slide down different parts of the lava rock into a fresh water pool. Very refreshing and a ton of fun. The slide does have a bit of a bump - I now have a large bruise on my bottom. ouch. The walk back up the 200 steps, not as fun.

We next headed into Apia, the capital city. After living in Pago, Apia looked like a huge metropolis. It had a traffic circle, multi-lane traffic and even stop lights. crazy. We stayed at the Pasifika Inn and went to dinner at a Italian restaurant - really good pizza. I miss pizza. Am. Sam. does have a Pizza Hut, but it is just not the same. After dinner we went to a couple of bars including one that looked like it was someone house. Fun had by all.

The next day we left Apia and went to the Piula Cave Pools. Formed by lava, it is a fresh water pool, that is super clear and filled with fish. I had a total deja vu moment, because I had been to the Cave Pools ten years before when I did the Semester at Sea South Pacific program. Two caves are connected by an underwater passage near the back of the cave, spooky. The water is so clear and my legs are so white that while in the water it looked like my legs were radioactive. It is fun to be a circus freak. An old church above the cave pool.
After a nice swim, we went to Coconut Beach Resort for lunch. A fancy resort, and we were anything but fancy. oh well, no one cares in Samoa. We spent about three hours at the Resort, no rush to do anything. We then drove to the far southeast part of the island - Lalomanu Village. On the Road in Indy Samoa:

At Lalomanu, we stayed in mini-fales right on the beach. The fale was a little hut wrapped with plastic sheeting and a mattress for each person. The beach was beautiful. Very sandy and deep water, so you could actually swim, unlike most places in Am. Sam. We stayed for two nights. The first night was a full moon. It was clear as day, I could have read a book, I didn't, but you could. Due to a little mix up in our group (too many chiefs, not enough communication), Sharon, Ben and I had been bumped from our fale. Ben found room with the Argentines, and Sharon and I bunked with Jeff & Meredith. Four people and two twin mattresses does not make a restful night sleep, we were literally sleep on each other, at one point, I kicked Sharon off our shared mattress - oops sorry. The highlight was the ghost stories told by Jeff. Does anyone remember the man with the gold arm ghost story? Jeff and I could not remember it. If anyone remembers, please post it as a comment - thanks. The second night, Ben, Sharon and I got our own fale. Pretty sweet waking up and looking out onto the beach and the ocean.
Lalomanu Beach
Our Fale
Sunday morning we spent at the Lalomanu beach-a lazy morning for us. We snorkeled, swam, enjoyed paradise. We next went to Le Pupu-pue National Park. The park has a bunch of waterfalls with deep fresh water pools. So deep that you could jump off the ledges into the pools. The highest jump was about 25-30 feet. At first, my legs would not move, but when are you going to have the opportunity to jump into a fresh water pool at the base of a waterfall? So I jumped, sorry mom. We also crawled under one of the waterfalls into a little cave behind it. I had another little scare - got stuck in a downpour of water and had a little trouble getting out. Not has bad as the ava at Ofu, but I am sticking with a theme of near death experiences when I travel. good times. I can visualize the gray hair growing on my mom's head. again, sorry mom.

The Path to the Waterfalls Looking down from the ledge and Jeff taking the plunge. Steve jumps, Sharon jumps, I jump.
After the waterfalls, we went to another resort - Sinalei Reef Resort - for lunch. We spent most of the day at the resort - partially because Fred dropped the keys to the other car in the water. A bunch of people snorkeled for about an hour looking for them. In the end, Ben found them.

Enjoying a cocktail at Sinalei The view from Sinalei

The next morning we went to the Black Sand beach. The beach was one of the most beautiful places I have seen. The sand was really smooth and the water was great. We body surfed for a while. I realized why the beach was still so nice and underdeveloped. The road to the beach was one step above a dirt track. We went through deep water and at one point had to get out of the van in order for the van to get up a hill. good times. It was well worth the bumpy ride.

The "road" to the black sand beach.
We had to head back to the airport because some had an early flight. A slight delay when the car overheated, but we made it. The rest of us on the later flight went to another resort - Aggie's by the Sea for a late lunch. Then off the airport. I felt bad for the other passengers on the flight, because I stunk. I realized that I had not used a cleaning product on my skin since early Saturday morning. oh well. At least I looked better then the inside of our van. yuck.

1 comment:

Sean Coletti said...

Mike- the Blog looks so great! You are such a descriptive writer. I was just wondering- is the "black sand beach" not really Black, but just darker than normal? Jessi