Samoa is a place that inspires me to write. I’m constantly thinking of things I need to remember and describe, jotting down notes on the backs of receipts and scraps of paper I know I’ve lost along the way. Even before I can get to my notepad in my iphone, I’ve forgotten something important I wanted to write down, and its been an especially annoying struggle since wifi and electricity have been nearly non-existent in the beach fales I’ve now been living in for 2 weeks. The other problem with writing too much is that you forget to take pictures… oh well.
The village life is very social, and privacy is nearly non-existent in the wall-less houses people share. They live in this structures called fales, which is just an open space surrounded by beams supporting a roof over their heads, and the concept of walls or rooms only exists in the separate toilet building. There are fales to live in, nap in, go to the beach in, and for tourists. I stayed at a fale nearly every night, each on its own beautiful plot of beach or ocean-front, and for the $30 charge, your breakfast and dinner were included. They kept getting better and better, each fale with its own charm, and it didn’t matter what direction you went or how far you traveled, you could always find a serene little fale to call home for the day.
Every village had a volleyball net, and it was common to see 10 or 20 people playing a game of volleyball. Boys had the tendency to turn anything into a rugby ball and spontaneously burst into a game of rough rugby. Samoans have their own special version of cricket where dancing and singing is actually incorporated into the game plays. I saw a few cricket pitches but never stuck around to watch a whole game… they can take days to finish! Its amazing how the tanned, silky-smooth, hairless Samoan men can dance around in flowery pink lava-lavas (“sarong” in Samoan) can still look ultra-masculine. I was mesmerized watching a group of men practice for their fiafia (a dance show), and even their blurry tattoos added to their ultra-man effect.
There haven’t been many tourists here either, but I noticed a couple of men who make a holiday home and holiday family out of some village women. There was a Canadian man in Saolufata who had 3 children with a Samoan woman, but he only visited over Christmas, since he still had a wife and some grown-up kids back in Canada. Then there was the Italian guy who walked with a cane, maybe in his mid 50’s, but he had a child here and thus an entire extended family in Fao Fao village. Ex-pat Samoans were everywhere, since more Samoans live in Australia and New Zealand than in Samoa, but they keep their language and extended family ties very strong, with regular visits and family reunions both in Samoa and abroad and don’t consider themselves tourists in Samoa.
Its cyclone season, or just the hotter-humid rainy season (there haven’t been any cyclones yet), and I don’t mind one bit since the wind blows a little harder at night (making it easier to sleep in the heat), and the touristy places are underpriced and empty. Back home I’m known as more of a social butterfly, or a “do-er”, but here, Im a loner and a lazer. I’d spend more time with people if I met anyone, but the shortage of other travelers means Im left with the locals to engage with. I love the elders and the women, when they have nothing better to do than chat with me, but the younger men are always a little pushy and too flirty, and the children don’t speak much English. But everyone will exchange a smile and a talofa (“hello”) excitedly if you smile and wave, and I can’t get over how much the children can keep on smiling and seeking your attention without being able to communicate.
I love the rain, since it means the days will cool down a few degrees and the wind may even counter-act the humidity enough that you stop being sticky and sweaty. It makes it cosier to lie under your fale and listen to the rain pound down on the coconut leaf roofs, and the mosquitos may temoporarily stop flying and attacking your blood stream. I love lying in my mosquito net, which feels more like a princess chamber in paradise, and knowing I’m finally free from the risk of dengue fever and chickungunya (they’ve had an outbreak here since 2014). I thought I had chicken goonja, but my achy joints and sore muscles were just from hiking around Apia harbor for 4 hours in the blazing hot 36` sun. The only bad thing that happened to me might have been the stray dog that peed on me… not sure how that happened but he was behind me and I didn’t see it coming.