Aggie Grey Jnr walks out of the hotel established by her grandmother, who was the inspiration for James L. Michener’s ‘Bloody Mary’. Across the road, in Apia Harbour, fishing boats bob beside container ships, ferries and yachts. The McDonalds franchise seems out of place among the colonial buildings and flame trees.
Above the town, visitors make the winding pilgrimage up Mt Vaea to the tomb of Robert Louis Stevenson. “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill”.
On the south coast, Sose Annandale, moves among the restaurant tables at Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, as graceful as a swan. In a house nearby, author, psychologist and comedienne, Pamela Stephenson, taps at her computer, accompanied by an ocean view and a breeze.
On Sava’i island, on a beach near Manasa, a large man from the Tanu family, shirtless and tattooed, sits under a coconut palm. He just sits. And looks out across the lagoon to the reef.
On Savai’i there are lava flows, one of them dramatically engulfing a church. When Pamela Stephenson’s husband, Billy Connolly saw this, he remarked, “My God! It’s a plague of licorice!”
Heavily tattooed in another culture would be threatening, in Samoa it exudes a sense of calm and place. Visitors will find the locals welcoming, embracing and forthcoming – but they will never actually learn the total meaning of fa’a Samoa. That’s part of the experience – you are invited to flirt and be seduced but consummation is for the locals (in the metaphorical sense!).
This is a place to soak in the scenery and the traditional culture as well as modern Samoa. And the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum is a must, even for those who hate traditional museums. It may help in understanding that gap between the ‘palagi’ (white visitors) and the locals. This is a proud nation that welcomes visitors and the more you delve the more you will be rewarded. Plan to visit both islands (Upolu and Savai’i) for the dramatic and exotic landscapes, enjoy the comforts and hospitality of your resort(s) but, most importantly, immerse yourself in the simple pleasures of fa’ a Samoa.
Some links for more on Samoa:
- Comprehensive information website – Samoa A to Z
- Resort wedding packages – Resort Weddings
- Tropical honeymoon packages – Tropical Honeymoons