[I wrote this post last Sunday, the day I got home....I apologize if there is any confusion!]
Malo from AmSam! Spring break has almost come to a close and it is ending with the perfect weather. It is almost 11:00 a.m., and I have yet to break a sweat. The sun is hiding and there is a light breeze.
A few hours ago, Abby and I got back from a relaxing mini-vacation to Apia. Even though I have now been there three times, it still amazes me how BIG the island of Upolu is compared to my island of Tutuila. It takes 10+ minutes in an airplane just to cross half of Upolu, where you can fly from the Pago airport and be over ocean in less than five minutes. Upolu is massive – a whole other world (yet at the same time, not at all).
After a confusion with Polynesian airlines (they cancelled our flight), Abby and I left a couple days later than we were supposed to. We laughed it off – whatever! When Thursday came, we boarded our teensy tiny, propeller plane. Our ride would not be complete without the shaky take off and landing. 40 minutes later, we were in a taxi and headed to Maketi Fou (the main market in Apia). Being a palagi in a place that actually gets tourism can be very frustrating, especially when it comes to making purchases, going places, and even walking down the street. Being a palagi and being able to speak a little Samoan makes ALL the difference. While shopping at the market, I had several interesting conversations with some Samoan vendors. I started conversations in Samoan, and we continued doing so until I ran out of Samoan (these were not long conversations...ha). This got me some good deals on a few of my purchases and well, it made me feel like I belonged a little. I’m not one of those cruise ship tourists, people! (Not that there’s anything wrong with those people, but after living in and amongst the culture for 8.5 months, I don’t want to be considered a tourist). The market and the surrounding area was overwhelming – so many people, cars, and buses, and stuff! I’m not used to so much commotion and I always go through culture shock for a couple hours before I settle in.
The teensy tiny plane that flies to and from Apia.
The market - gorgeous puletasi's hanging from the ceiling.
Imagine about a hundred different stalls of this...a jewelry shopper's heaven!
I'e lavalava's - love love love!
For our first night in Apia, Abby and I stayed at Hotel Millenia, a nicer hotel complete with a pool that was shaped like a turtle! We enjoyed the ‘high class’ experience (aka air conditioning, a shower with warm water, a tropical breakfast, the pool, and a tiny tv – haha). We made friends with two little girls, Jayleen and Kathleen, and spent a few hours swimming, learning, speaking, and singing in Samoan, and playing Marco Polo, all before falling asleep. On Saturday and Sunday night, we stayed at Hotel Elisa, also a fancy place. We stayed in the “budget accommodation” and as the porter (?) walked us through the hotel to our room (yeah, they do that in Samoa!), we kept going through all these doors until we reached our room. Darn it for not being able to afford a classy room. But love it that we still got to use the pool!
Highlights to a rainy Saturday: spending a couple hours at one of the other markets before walking all over town. There are so many vendors in the markets. If you really pause and look at everything, a couple hours will go by before you realize it. Later that afternoon, we went to a movie, and froze to death in A/C.
The turtle pool!
Highlights to a relaxing Sunday: sleeping in a little, walking along the Apia seawall and listening to the Samoans sing in church, finding out that McDonalds was open so we could sit and enjoy some cheap coffee (can I just note that there is only ONE McD’s in Western. Please oh please don’t let them ever put in any more.), stopping in Farmer Joe’s (supermarket) and hooraying when we saw that they had banana bread (more to come on that…), meeting up with my friend Rezetta, swimming in the hotel pool, sitting in the park next to the water, and seeing another movie.
The Apia harbor on our first morning
Taligalu: the Samoan word for seawall.
Out for a Sunday stroll. That's a Banyan tree on the left.
An au'te, a flower of Samoa
This is my friend Rezetta. I met her in New Zealand and have stayed in contact with her ever since. It was so great catching up with her, talking about life in Samoa, and comparing/contrasting AmSam to Upolu!
Pretty flowers at our hotel
Highlights to a superfast Monday (remember that Western Samoa is now on NZ time…they are one day and one hour ahead of American Samoa): None. We woke up early, walked to town, caught a taxi, sat at the airport, got on the plane, flew home. But! I was impressed with our take off and landing. It was ridiculously smooth. My knuckles weren’t white from clenching my hands and my heart wasn’t beating 500mph. Score!
And now to the paragraph I’ve been looking forward to writing. FOOD highlights in Samoa…Abby and I ate at Amanaki (a swanky hotel on the water with really good deals for dinner) all three nights we were there! We just couldn’t go anywhere else. We first tried Amanaki when we stayed with our friend Supy in December, so of course we went back. The first night, we dined on poke (raw tuna in a delicious sauce) and Vailima (Samoa’s very own beer). Classy dinner. The second night (St. Patrick’s Day), we started with Vailima, moved on to stuffed eggplant (umm omg), and finished with banana fritters (amazing). The third night, we were too hungry to share anything so Abby got a fish burger and I got a chicken burger – so fresh, so delicious, so filling. Other food highlights include eating bananas (if only I could send one to each and every one of you…), banana bread (it’s SO DARN GOOD!), Coke (made in Samoa with actual sugar – no high fructose corn syrup – SO REFRESHING!), grilled tuna (mmm), a Niu (baby coconut – best drink in the world for you, or so the Samoan’s say), banana cake (can you tell I love bananas?), ice cream, and I’m sure there was more, but this paragraph is probably making all your stomach’s growl, isn’t it?
Enjoying an ice cold Vailima.
Poke...looks gross, tastes amazing...complete with coconut.
Lunch of champs: a loaf of homemade banana bread and the best Coke I've ever had.
Banana fritters...umm amazing. That creature thing on the upper right is called a lychee (sp?) - weird tasting thing.
My lunch one day...a Niu (coconut) to drink, fries, salad, grilled tuna, an egg, and sosisi (sausage): typical Samoan food. I took one bite of the sosisi and gagged. Disgusting.
This should be a Coke ad, right?
All in all, we had a great trip. It was the perfect way to end our spring break. Although it will be rough getting back into the school schedule, I’m sure it will all balance out within a couple days. Hard to believe how little time I have left on my tiny island in the middle of the ocean!
Abby and I make excellent traveling partners : )
Goodbye beautiful Samoa, I'll be back!
Look how tiny Tutuila is...so small!
My house and the village around it from the air!
Light blue arrow: mountains
Purple arrow: points West
Red arrow: the main road
Orange arrow: head that way if you want to go into town or to the airport
Yellow arrow: my house!!
Dark blue arrow: house with stupid dogs that like to try and eat me
Green arrow: the village of Malaeloa...we go here to do our laundry, sometimes I run back through here, and other times Abby and I walk at night through here
A new sign that greeted me when I got back to AmSam...I just laughed.