Just because everyone says something is a good idea doesn’t make it true. And early on our first full day in Savaii, I looked at George and said, “I hate you and I hate Samoa.” Not the sound of a good day starting but somehow, like all our journeys, Samoa worked out.
The previous forty-eight hours had been drama-filled. A noon ferry was canceled so we sat at the pier in Upolu for half a day, and after rushing to get seats we arrived for one night in Salelologa, Savaii. After my Survivor Night of fainting and falling on the ground, George wanted me in a hotel with electricity and a bathroom less than 100 steps from the front door. And so we found the Salafai Backpackers Inn with the backpacker rate of 100Tala.
Other tourists told us “You have to take the bus; it is a great experience.” Well, we usually take the bus to get to any destination. Tuesday morning, we waited for an hour for a bus and after two hours on its hard wooden seats, the contraption stopped in Falealup-uta. The ride had great views of the sea and Savaii looked beautiful but the trip was so mundane that I felt unclear about all the fuss over the ride.
But soon there would be fuss galore.
We had left the “backpacker-friendly” hotel which had zero reasons that we could see to be called that, with no breakfast except for a few crackers from my bag. Several locals on the bus looked at our map with us and told us when to get off for Falealupo. So at high noon, we arrived at our stop and saw not a single taxi. Other exiting passengers, including an elderly woman laden with many heavy-looking packages, started down the sealed road and we followed, hoisting our packs, as by our figuring the hostel was four, maybe five kilometers away.
After 45 min in the high-noon sun with extra heat rising from the blacktop, we stopped to eat some canned peanuts and talk to some boys and look at the map. No cars had passed us but a couple of men had ridden by on bicycles. When we reached the 300-year-old Banyan Tree Canopy Walk after nearly an hour and looked at the map, we realized it was possibly closer to fifteen kilometers to our destination.
Nearly out of water and realizing that we had possibly made a dumb choice, I put my pack down, and with as much sweaty drama as possible, exclaimed, “I hate you and I hate Samoa.” George (called Siaosi in Samoan) looked at me and said, “Give me your pack.” I said, “You cannot possibly carry both our packs, especially in this heat.” He said, “You said you hate me. I cannot have that. Give me your pack. I am George Powell.” (from Extreme Makeover: Chris Powell).
So he walked with both packs and broke the drama and I laughed. I said, “You look like an Israeli boyfriend in Thailand!” That is the only place I have seen someone walk with one backpack on their back and one on their front! They carry their own pack and their girlfriends thus “Israeli boyfriend.” Another laugh and photo moment marked the end of humor failure.
Soon a car appeared and stopped for us. George says it always works out; the issue becomes how long you define the period of time and use your perspective? The heat plus sense of humor failure and hunger made me concerned, especially after fainting only the day before.
The Seligas recognized us from the ferry (there were very few palangi onboard) and offered us a ride to our hostel. During our time together, we picked up a grandmother and her daughter on their way to the weekly Church Bingo game. She informed us that Samoans give their extra money to family (after Bingo) and she didn’t have money to travel although she wished to travel like us.
After stopping at our hostel, we were invited to a family dinner down the road, which turned out to be a Samoan feast. Tupu Salule’s family included nearly a dozen children and for the first time in my life, the sight of me made a three-year-old cry!
Not to worry; I don’t think Samoa hated me!
Video: Saved by the Seligas
Article first published as Samoa - The beginning of a Great Travel Adventure on Technorati.