I met Tile when I was kiliing time before my flight home. He was sitting in front of the boutique in the waiting lounge penning this amazing image of “Samoa.”
It turns out he’s quite an accomplished guy. There are wood carvings all over the airport. He’s done them all. They are amazing. Highly intricate and huge. It must have taken him forever. His eye for detail is impressive.
Tile (pronounced “tea-lee”) was so nice that he gave the piece he woking on. He even signed it me. This was my last taste of the incredible generosity of the Samoan people.
Tonight, I’m leaving the fair shores of the “Island of Beautiful People.” It’s been an interesting experience here. Samoa is a wonderful place. I leave behind many good friends and even more good memories.
Though Samoa is just a speck of a country in the middle of the vast Pacific, it has left a great and lasting impression on me. I’ve learned so much about life from the people here. The most important is the significance of family. I had to go thousands of miles away and live in a South Pacific paradise to do it, but I’m now closer to my family than at any time that I can recall.
Tofa Soifua, Samoa. If I’m lucky, I’ll see you again soon.
(I’ll explain it all when I get home.)
There’s one thing in Samoa that I will not miss and that is the coconuts that fall from the tree next to my house and land on my tin roof sounding like a massive bomb or something. It never fails to startle me. It’s just so strange.
I’ll be sitting at home, like now for instance. It’s quiet and peaceful. The only thing I can hear is the pleasant whir of the fan and my fingers blazing acorss the keyboard and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere KABOOOOOM!. It’s sounds like WWIII has started over my fale. It’s very unpleasant.
My friend Van returned from New Zealand bearing one of the nicest gifts I have ever received, a Good Grips® Pizza Cutter. It’s so sweet considering how much I like to make pizza and how much of a pain it is to cut a pie with my ever dull Cutco® knife.
I went down to the Hotel Insel Fermarhn this morning to watch NFL games with the boys, but when I got there, no one was around. I was a little late, I suppose. Insel picks up Armed Forces TV from American Samoa and shows NFL, NBA and all sorts of other American sports.
I managed to catch the last minutes of the 4th quarters of the Denver/Detroit and the NY Jets/Dallas games. I sat there, eating my pancakes and watching the games, but I can’t really get into football. I’m even in a fantasy league with a few of the other PCVs. But for some reason, football doesn’t seem real to me I’d much rather watch rugby. I never thought I’d say that. Even when I lived in Australia, I didn’t like rugby.
Here in Samoa, rugby is different. It’s like a religion. It’s like football in Buffalo. It’s the only show in town. Except it’s really the only show out of town, since Manu Samoa, the national team, only plays 2 games a year at home, normally. They only played one this year because of the World Cup which is getting underway in Australia next month. Samoa is in a pool with England, South Africa and Uruguay, so they have their work cut out for them. I don’t know how they will do, but I do know that this entire country will come to standstill to watch the matches.
It’s amazing how out of touch I am with American sports. At the end of the game, FOX was running a promo for the MLB playoffs. I had no idea that they had even started, let alone that the Cubs were in there. Could this be their year? Go on, Cubbie fans. Let’s hear you give a shout out to your boys.
[ I'm secretly hoping they win- ]
There might be a long debate amongst volunteers about which spot in Samoa is the most beautiful, but for my money, it’s none other than Ole Moe Falls on the southwest side of Savai’i near the district of Palauli. It’s like something the production designers from Fantasy Island could have built.
It’s far off the main road. You have to ford a river, cross through a coconut plantation filled with cows, bulls, and horses, navigate a steep and muddy trail and then negotiate a rickety wooden ladder just to get there.
This picture was taken from the precipice above the muddy trail. It’s an amazing site. What you can’t get from the picture is the sound of the rushing water. It’s all you can hear. You look in one direction and you can see the swaying palms of the plantation. In the other diection is this spectacular falls.
The water in the pool is great for swimming, although it’s seriously chilly. Little streams of water flow down from dozens of tributaries around the circular pool. There are high ledges from where the brave at heart can dive into the pool.
Ole Moe is a must see if you come to Samoa.
After much wrangling with Polynesian Air over a delayed/rescheduled flight, Jennifer hit the friendly skies and headed back to California. It was great fun to have a visitor and to show off the beauty of Samoa. I know it’s a long way to come, but hopefully I will get a few more guests during the remainder of my service.
Last night we had a great farewell dinner. We made grilled/seared yellow fin tuna marinated in soy, honey and dijon, stuffed peppers with fresh parmesan, steamed broccoli and carrots infused with rosemary and ate sashimi while we preparing it. I made cranberry vodka cocktail in coconuts which were a gift from my family (we visited them on Sunday). For desert it was white and milk chocolate ice cream (Cadbury’s) with almond slivers.
The rain has been pelting Apia in the last few days signaling the end of the cool/dry season and the return of the wet/hot season in Samoa. Yachts are slowly leaving Apia Harbor for safer anchorages around the Pacific. A couple of centipedes have decided, quite unwisely, to use my flat as a thoroughfare. They were Mortein’ed to death mericlessly. Pretty soon rivers will fill up again, blood sucking skeeters will be flittering around and the oppresive heat will be making everyone say, vevela tele le aso or “the day is incredibly hot.”
If you make the drive back from the southeast coast of Upolu to Apia, you’ll come across a section of Samoa covered in massive Banyan trees or Aoa in Samoan.
They look so out of place here. They look alien. You’d expect to see them on the plains of Africa. Not here. This is probably why they are so damn cool.
The Aoa is a member of the fig family. It’s a killer tree. If you’ve ever seen pictures of Ankor Wat in Cambodia with the tree roots strangling the massive stone blocks, you have a good idea of what I’m getting at.
Banyans actually grow down from seeds planted in the top of “host” trees by birds. The Banyan anchors its roots in the dead leaves at the heights of the tree and then slowly makes it way down to te ground. By then the fate of the host tree is set as the Banyan takes over and strangles its host to death, leaving this incredbile looking conglomeration of branches, roots and leaves.
Want to learn more about Samoa’s Banyan trees? Check out the Natural History Guide To American Samoa
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