March 16, 2009
They’ve nicknamed it “paradise”. Possibly to attract tourists, but also because it’s probably as close to paradise as it gets. Don’t get me wrong, the day I spent in the capital was awful; Apia is a real dump. I’ve seen things I didn’t dare to photographs just to stay out of trouble. But when you move to the countryside (which is everywhere else), you see some breathtaking landscapes (and not just the beaches, the mountains, valleys and forests are just as impressive), you get a feel for the Samoan lifestyle, which is really simplistic, and you realize you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The photos don’t lie, it’s gorgeous. What they don’t tell, is how warm and humid it is. The locals are used to it, the tourists seem to adapt fairly quickly, but this one Canadian boy who wears shorts in the dead of winter wants to rip his skin out. That said, the memories of falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the Pacific Ocean will last longer than those of the worst sunburns and bug bites of my life.
The locals are friendly, some are intrigued. It’s great to discuss with the few of them who fluently speak English. They aren’t fed up with tourists yet. If they see you on the streets they’ll ask you “where are you going” like it’s the US customs, but it’s actually they’re way to offer help if you need direction. (A few couldn’t get the word “Canada” and think I’m from Kenya; After all, aren’t we just a none-skinny-marathon-running version of Kenyans?)
The travellers all have different stories to tell, each more interesting than the previous, but frankly, in this kind of background, even a long boring Obama speech would be great to hear (yes, I know, I’m one of the rare who finds him boring as hell).
As I’m writing these lines they are getting ready to put on a traditional show, with dance and music because it’s Saturday night. Saturdays are when they play rugby, dance and drink. Sunday though, you can’t have fun, it’s Jesus’ day. I think the eleventh commandment was “Thou shall not play ping pong or beach volleyball with your Finnish friends on the day the big guy sat back and got drunk”.
Oh, yeah, there are bugs, rats, wild dogs and all, but what can you do… Still beats paying 14 bucks to park at Seneca.
You will probably read this when I’m in New Zealand because Internet is rare around here.
The pictures will be randomly inserted before or after the text; I’ve had issues with that. They’re pretty self-explanatory anyway.