Mapping the limits of the soul: the Samoas pt 2
We left off with me getting off the bus near the Vaisala Hotel, having been cast as a fa’afafine.
I can’t say that my reception at the hotel was overwhelmingly positive. The lady at the desk seemed a little frumpy to say the least. It was here that I learnt that in Samoa, the land of proactive friendliness and smiles, when you have offended people, they just don’t smile anymore. They still help you and are still the most wonderful gems of humans ever etc; they just don’t smile. I asked her about the tree I wanted to book a space sleeping in. It turns out there was no transport there that night. I was stuck five km from my desired eerie. So I asked her when the last bus out of town was the next day so I get back as late as possible to Apia the night before my flight. She said 9am. This sounded so improbable, that I was certain she was telling me such an early time to run me out of town. I was wrong, the last bus IS at 9am, but I spent the whole night feeling strangely persecuted nonetheless until I realised. :(
That night, I read Harry Potter on one of the most beautiful beaches I have been on. Then I read Harry Potter on a verandah overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches I have been on. Then I read Harry Potter in a room with a window overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches I have been on. Such adventures that boy has!
The next morning, after checking out the action of some jungle chickens and pigs while waiting for the bus, I headed back to Opolu.
Savai’i is a beautiful place! It is all mountains and trees and rivers and rocks and cliffs and caves!! Savai’i is a hard land. Lava flows made the fields, you can still see the smooth convolutions in the ground. All is black rocks. The people there live in houses with roll-up walls made of blind-type things. The place is quite poor, but people are happy. I did get asked by several young girls if I had a girlfriend or wife though, so I guess at least a few people would not mind a richer life. Savai’i is seriously slow and relaxed. It made me wonder if maybe we in the first world have messed this all up with our running and ambition and schedules…
Here is a picture of a school, check the field of rocks to the right:
Often you see a wall of black rocks with a well maintained field on one side and real jungle on the other. I wonder if walls are an antidote to wilderness? They must be a hardy and industrious people to live in this land. The men are all buff as hell from all the hacking back the encroaching jungle. And the ladies, oh me oh my! A Samoan lady will steal your soul with her looks and generous personality!
When I got back to Opolu, which a day before had seemed seriously chill, it seemed like a bustling metropolis. It is weird how perspectives can change!
The next day I flew back to American Samoa, and that blew my mind even more!! Here the people had the same polynesian charm and generousity and propensity to smile, but they were really suffering from a glut of the American Dream, and it was killing them with obesity.
Dusk found us all (the full compliment, minus the watch and those who do not go drinking further than they can stumble home, of the Hi’ialakai and the Sette) at Tisa’s, sipping Pina Coladas watching the sun set. When the Pina Coladas ran out we sipped rum spiked coconut water from coconuts. It was a tropical paradise, and we were reveling in the dream!!
The next morning, Adel and I rolled around the island on buses! We headed out past Tisa’s, spotting people from the boat out surfing. We stopped at the eastern end of the bus line at a village called Tula. There, we bought water and cookies hellbent on total dehydration! We then struck out on foot for the north side of the island, a village called Onenoa, a place 18 million enormous hills away under the tropical midday sun!
After hearing barking dogs a couple of times, we started carrying rocks, but never had to use them. We arrived in Onenoa, asked permission to swim, and then swam around for a while. Adel checked out the fish action on snorkel, while I just lolled around enjoying the scenery!! It was a picture perfect little bay, which I have no pictures of :( We started to get taken out by a rip at one point, and were a lot more cautious after that! A marine biologist who needs to be rescued from the sea is a sad thing, and no one in American Samoa seems to be a very strong swimmer!!
Then we headed over to a small island off the coast called Aunu’u. It had awesome, and scary surf, and a shipwreck!! And it had lots of sad, mangy, aggressive dogs. But also a lot of coral rubble to pretend I might throw at them if I had the guts. We searched for about an hour for a patch of quicksand that seemed to be locally famous – every time the locals saw us wandering around they assumed we were looking for it and gave us directions – did I mention that Samoans are proactively friendly??
The next morning we returned to the sea. And now I must return to my bed.