When walking out of the arrivals terminal in Apia I saw someone standing there looking at me with a big smile. It was Frankie, an Irish who I had been traveling with earlier when island hopping in Fiji, Just randomly arriving in Samoa on the same flight as me.
Being two also meant that it would be cheaper and more sensible to rent a car, and so we did and started our journey around the Samoan Main Island, Upolu.
First stop on the way was the natural Sliding Rock right outside the capital, but as there was no water left there we were quick to continue to a waterfall where there was. Even though we were there at the end of the dry season everything was still green and the waterfall was like a cascade of running water that worked well as natural swimming pools. Just an half an hour away we did another swim. Even with a ten nzd entry fee it was well worth the privilege of swimming around as the only tourists on one of the many beaches that the South Coast of Samoa is known for.
Then we got to the most amazing places, which all people traveling to Samoa should see. First was two stunning Blue holes that were connected with a swim through cave tunnel which we also had all to ourselves. Second was the two kilometer coastal walk going along some spectacular cliffs, where we could see some natural tick tunnels, caves and blow hole cracks in the volcanic ground while constantly listening to powerful waves smashing towards the cliffs. Finishing off with a stay at the South East Coast backpacker “fales” (bungalows), where we could go snorkeling and pick our own mangoes was a good way to take in all the impressions that the island had given us.
As I was going to take the last bus to the airport leaving six hours before my flight I got in talk with a guy who asked me if I would not rather come to his home for supper and then let him drive me to the airport afterwards. I was quick to say yes and just an hour later I was sitting with his family who kept on trying to feed me like crazy and afterwards offering me all kinds of stuff they had laying around in their house. The only thing I was not allowed to refuse taking with me was a necklace that they would traditionally give to guests to show their appreciation, which to me felt like a symbol of the hospitality I have received here in Samoa.
John praying for the meal he invited me for
The biggest island in Samoa is called Savaii and according to everyone we have met so far it is also the most beautiful and real Samoa culturally. Me and my Irish co-traveled Frankie got to experience that for both the better and the worse.
When we arrived at the island from the hour long ferry ride from Opulu, there were plenty of buses waiting to take the passengers along the one and only road that lead around the island. After an hour drive we got off at our first point of interest, the…. Blowholes. These blowholes easily beat those of Tonga, Hawaii etc as they were much more powerful! We threw some coconuts into them to watch them get shot 30 meters up in the air. Quite fun watching them fly far over our heads and then get smashed when they landed on the ground. We hitchhiked from there to the main road and started walking towards the other attractions on the island.
As we walked we were waived down by a guy called Leroy who was sitting and drinking morning beers with his friends. He shared both his beer and his stories from back in the days when he was a professional surfer touring the World. He was then sponsored to sleep in expensive hotels and to join parties with fancy cocktails, but Leroy said that he was more happy with his life here. Sleeping on a floor mattress and drinking beer with his mates. I both envied his big mustache and his ability to enjoy the simplest life.
After another hitchhike ride we got to… where we walked some sketchy hanging bridges on top of some huge trees and had some good views over the hills and forests that the island is made up of.
Our last hitchhiking ride was a man who asked for money to take us with him. We were fine with that, but when we had just been driving for five minutes he said he did not want to drive any more and demanded the money we had agreed on which was not cool so we just gave him a a couple of cigarettes and some pocket money for his troubles. He then got angry, rushed out of his car revealing a half empty liquor bottle that he had been hiding in his driver seat. He grabbed Frankie and pulled his fist for a punch when I jumped in with the money and the guy took off again. We ran to the police just five mins away and reported his licence number. The police then apologized for the trouble and asked the hotel next door for us if they could give us a good deal for a night. We then got half price on a nice beach “fale” (bungalow) and a free dinner. The whole day was quite a lesson in the Samoan island life where there is trouble with alcohol and abuse but mainly just friendliness from the many good hearted people living here.