We are in Samoa or Western Samoa. We could never think of confusing a Samoan with American Samoa. 1 day across the timeline and totally tourist, nothing has to do with this country.
Yesterday we finally managed to fix that one person, Don, make us a driver on the island, and for now the first impression can not be better. It is presented on time, with a very careful van and an enviable sympathy and education. I wish everyone were like that, especially Dennis, who looks more like a "colgao" but that's another story. There we go, with a more or less improvised itinerary at the tourist office yesterday and meditated tonight ...
We left Apia, capital of Samoa that we knew well yesterday and where Jorge Sanchez recently spent several weeks waiting for an eternal ferry to Tokelau that finally came to take, for advance through the mountain path that leads to the southern part of the island. Here we have several interesting stops, the first the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (20 WST each)
We are in the former residence of this well-known Scottish author, who built his mansion (beautiful, colonial style) in 1890 and decided that it was a good place to improve his tuberculosis due to this warm tropical climate (although he would die 4 years later). The house is very careful, and still keeps all the impeccable rooms of when he lived there with his wife.
The people of Samoa adopted Stevenson as one of their favorite children and called him Tusitala or "storyteller", and we are facing one of the greatest writers of all time, in his home, where he built and lived and where he died, a colonial house (now a museum) with all its furniture, photos, memories of the time and priceless antiques
For those who do not know, Stevenson is the creator of novels like Treasure Island, a "must have" for some (like us). We are especially struck by his section for music, with an old piano and many types of instruments, and the safe, today open and empty ... !! no. we don't take anything !!
Stepping on Villa Vailima (like the best Samoan beer whose name obviously comes from here), its estate with a charming central lawn, the perfectly maintained gardens, its Victorian stately tomb, has moved us for 1 hour to the colonial golden times of 100- 150 years ... (and we took some gift, for 75 WST)
... but it's time to follow the route, and pWe plow in a curious open Christian church that has the best views from Mt. Vaea (475 m) from the city.
As in the rest of the countries in the area, we continue to see almost as many churches as houses and meeting centers, to which more original and cared for. There is real fanaticism.
What we did not expect to find is a Baha'i temple in Samoa, since there are only 7 or 8 in the world (recently one of them was destroyed in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) and they are building another one in Chile.
A Baha'i house of worship is something truly unique, not only because of the few there are, but because of his special way of seeing religion. It was founded in Persia in the 19th century, perhaps from there it takes the origins of its unique temple, similar to some mosques, although it has nothing to do with Muslim beliefs, because the baha'i believe in a spiritual unit difficult to explain which integrates Buddhism, Christianity, Islamism, Judaism and Hinduism. They believe in the understanding of humanity from all gods and prophets
Inside is not a completely decorated altar, or symbols or icons of any kind, just phrases to think about. The Baha'i communities (there are already 5-6 million worldwide) what they do possess are a multitude of properties (although without houses of worship) and gardens of unparalleled beauty, only comparable to the beautiful Japanese temples seen before, and that convey true peace and tranquility. A culturally VERY INTERESTING visit
We continue along the mountain until we reach its highest part. Don directs us here, since we didn't know about his existence. We are in a huge waterfall called Papapapai-tai of more than 100 meters of fall and with a peculiar peculiarity, it is that in addition to the jet that falls from the top, the water is passed, leaving several more jets in its half, leaving a beautiful image
He landscape IS REALLY PRECIOUS, leaving small villages interspersed with dozens of acres of plantations of all kinds of fruits and vegetables, from bananas, pineapples, papayas, coconuts ... to Kava, which we already saw wholesale in the Suva market, and here it is consumed more in rural than in Apia.
All this area It's full of Samoan fales, the most famous typical houses in the country, with its thatched roof and its oval-shaped construction, allowing rainwater to be displaced outside. Many people use them for collection at certain times of the year
Don asks us if we want to stop and see an area that has evolved from a tragic event. Is the best resort on the island, an area devastated by the tragic tsunami that hit Samoa in 2009 and that still mentally people have not recovered. This is a resort "without children" that was rebuilt based on cabins, beautiful pools and curious formations, all worked with the volcanic rocks of the area.
The houses are "tied" (not nailed) allowing the movement of an earthquake, its beaches are white white, and its blue waters of different shades. The relaxation is absolute, and the price per night is not excessively expensive (about 200 WST, about 65-70 euros, although some reach 500 and 600 WST).
The cold waters of the mountains come down here allowing to have water all year. Some of them do it underground form going out to sea directly through a kind of open channels in solidified lava for many years. Fascinating phoenix. !! A little crown and a tea !! (25 WST)
Now we circulate parallel to the South coast towards the Aleipata area. We still do not see, as every day, no "palangui" (term used by locals to refer to foreigners). It is a day of full nature. We thus arrive at other beautiful waterfalls (Upolu is full of them). These are called Togitogiga.
Good time to cool down and refresh yourself a little, because the sun is still hitting hard and the temperature of Samoa remains immovable in those permanent 30ºC, either day or night.
Upolu to a greater extent and Savai'i suffered in 2009 one of the worst misfortunes they could receive. We continue along the South coast, the most hit by the waves, and our destination for eating is in Aleipata, specifically in the town of Falua.
Falua today is a beautiful white sand beach with a multitude of small "beach fales" by way of "beach camping bungalows", which cover most of the island's foreign tourism (although there is not even tato here, just 2 or 3 families of New Zealanders). What there is is a kind of "chiringo" where to eat some pretty good chips, some sandwiches and a fried chicken (41 WST)
The rest of the picture is bleak. Multitude of hectares are still not rebuilt, and those that have done so are very isolated. This is a "mousetrap", with huge cliffs where even if people had wanted to climb it would have been impossible
We talk about Tsunami that hit the country in September 2009, whose epicenter was 38 km from here, and without possible evacuation notices left over 170 dead and thousands of houses demolished in less than 10 minutes before the impotence of any possible means
The effect of the water was unstoppable, and weak houses of wood and straw and few places to shelter, could not avoid the misfortune
But Don explains something we have seen before. "Samoa is for Samoans" and their pride is great. In addition to complicating much any foreign business (easier if you are from New Zealand with whom they have better import and export relations, but almost no Chinese has managed to implant) they have managed to get out of misfortune and today new stores and accommodations are already being built in area. Don't talk to them about Tonga, yes. For them, the Tonganos are "the brutes."
We climb north, and at a certain moment the road goes back into the mountains. !! PRECIOUS AGAIN !! This country is a true paradise of nature, which at the moment reminds us of the beautiful impenetrable forests seen in Uganda. Green, intense green. Forests that eat the road. Villages surrounded by coconut trees. "Fa'a Samoana" (slow pace of life)
Their picturesque wooden buses and bright colors run through the mountain with its large windows and packed to the brim. Of course, they cross perfectly maintained roads, with the grass of the cut shoulders, between clean, tidy and really beautiful villages. It is a very different taste to any island before seen
We arrived to Piula Cave Pool (5 WST each), a former secret place of a Methodist Theological College, consists of small pools of about 3 meters where one can bathe or simply refresh after a long road.
The water is not as cold as we might think, and again we feel privileged to enjoy this place completely alone. We are going to have a "shock" when we return to civilization, the big queues, the crowds, the rules imposed ... uffs
The day ends (we give 250 WST to Don for his services, gasoline, etc ...) bordering the north coast of Upolu, of huge cliffs that barely give way to a coastal road and small beaches, bays and villages under coconut plantations, and all this in front of a lagoon of few meters of water, protected by a coral reef (which is not in the South) and that leaves behind the lush forests crossed.
Tomorrow to see what comes out with the "zumbao" of Dennis (shame we didn't choose Don). Let's touch wood. Two days in Savai'i and Sunday, return to Nadi.
We don't know what Savai'i will be like but Upolu has been a discovery for us, an island of lush vegetation of colorful tropical trees (red, purple, yellow), paths perfectly delimited with rocks or with an exquisitely maintained lawn, the love of Samoans for good taste and beautiful things, plantations of everything kind of fruits, green-covered islets, crystal clear waters, calm ... really, Treasure Island that Robert Stevenson always imagined
Isaac and Paula, from Apia in Upolu (Samoa)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 366 WST (approx. 126.21 EUR) and GIFTS: 75 WST (approx. 25.86 EUR)