WESTERN SAMOA   PART 2                                  Aug-Sept 2004


August 29
Mornings arrive early here. Church bells rang at 3 am....then a chorus of dogs answered by roosters....then there's usually the  conversing on the radio  of cruising boats getting an early start arriving or leaving the anchorage ....then the container ships that arrive daily at 4:30 am....more church bells at 5:00 am....then the sound of drumming beside the boat as the longboats row by one by one at 6:00.....then the police band starts up and marches down the waterfront to raise the flag.....and back again, daily. 

August 31, Apia 010.jpg (21671 bytes)Samoa 092.jpg (20203 bytes)Who says it's peaceful and quiet and relaxing out here? Not always. Earplugs anyone? No wonder you see the locals sleeping everywhere during the day.

These industrious kids were selling their leis outside the restaurants and hotels, others sold woven fans in the streets downtown. One thing they all had in common, they love to have their picture taken!

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We explored Apia, visiting the marketplace and cruising the streets. We bought some hand painted fabric and had lava lavas made up for about $12 each. 

A favorite hang for us was a little roadside bar that served cheap beer and had an interesting menu. Sea Bladder an intriguing entrée, and...No this is not a typo.

I bought a few groceries and the prices were definitely a lot cheaper than what we had seen in the French Polynesia although still significantly higher than in Canada. Produce, even at the market, was expensive for some things (cabbage $9/head, peppers $2 ea. and I saw celery for $28/bunch!) and cheap for other items (eggplant, cucumbers, bok choy). Who ever thought that cabbage would become a gourmet food item!

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Beverages at "Sails" overlooking the harbour.

August 31
Gord and I both went to the doctor today. My feet....his back. The one room examining area, tucked away in the back of some shops with a blanket covering the door, produced a local doc who gave us both prescriptions for drugs. But Gord's meds just made him sick and sleepy. Mine really had no effect, other than to empty our pocketbook another $150.

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Teuila Festival 

We were fortunate to arrive in Apia in time to take in the Teuila Festival named after the Red Ginger Plant, the national flower of Samoa. We quickly got to know some of the friendly locals and were invited to the fire dance practices, in preparation for the Festival.

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These shows are put on by kids, some of which are very talented and hoping for a chance to win considerably sums of money at the upcoming Teuila competition. The show was actually a fund raiser for the competitors and mostly attended by the cruisers or visitors to Samoa.

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There was  graceful, slow Siva dancing by the Samoan girls, very unlike the fast paced dance of the French Polynesia...Siva is more akin to the Hawaiian hula. The men's dancing is macho and aggressive. 
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The big final competition was held out on the grassy field across from the harbour. I think every cruiser was in attendance to cheer on their favorites.

The Kids Fire Dancing division was amazing. All the time it takes to practice is well worth the effort  though...there is 3000 Tala (about $1500) up for grabs for the winner. The Men's Division was followed by a demonstration from the World Champion Fire Dancer.

Samoa fire 028.jpg (26314 bytes)All the men and boys wear lava lavas (skirts) and dress code is very conservative. Many of the cruisers were seen sporting their new lava lavas (pictured left is Marv in his). Despite Gord's Scottish heritage, Gord did not partake in the new attire. 

It is not proper for the women to show their knees, so shorts are out. Pants are too hot as daytime temps are in the high 90's. Wearing lava lavas is weird for me  because I am not used to wearing skirts all the time...not even when I was in the back-home world working. It's hard to maneuver over life lines and in and out of dinghies, crawling thru a maze of boats to get to the tie up wall, wearing a skirt.


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We had met a fun loving Samoan woman named Tina, who had been living in New Zealand until recently and, she was a sport's massage therapist. She agreed to come to the boat and work her magic on Gord's back. However, Gord was too sick to pick her up at the dock and left her waiting for over an hour. So when we ran into her, she gave Gord the punishment he deserved, then agreed to come to our boat the following day!

September 3, 2004
Tina came to the boat and gave Gord a full massage treatment. We enjoyed her company immensely and visited over a few drinks, then later went out to supper in Apia at a nightclub that played American tunes but always with a reggae twist. 

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September 7
We took a taxi to visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. It was interesting to see his lavish home, restored to it's original condition and furnished with his original furnishings and decor. Marv & Donna made the hike to the gravesite, but with Gord's sore back, we didn't make the trek.

Another taxi ride took us to the Bahai'i House of Worship. A young couple from Iowa were the caretakers of the temple. Western Samoa has a multitude of churches, too many to count. There are churches every kilometer including denominations of Catholic, Seven Day Adventist, Mormon, Protestant, Baptist and Baptist. Perhaps that is why Samoa was chosen to site one of only seven Bahai'i Temples in the World.

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The Baha'i Faith represents the unity of religion. This unique House of Worship has a 19 meter dome situated in peaceful landscaped grounds.

September 7
The plan was to have dinner on Endless with Sirona, then take in the Traditional Dancing Competition. However, the boys got into partying so Donna, Tanya, Duncan (her son) and I headed to shore to take in the activities. Unfortunately we were too late for the dancing but the MacDonalds Variety Show was still on and it was entertaining.

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A large crowd of locals... Teuila is such a huge event.

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Donna and Tanya get cozy with the Coppers!

samoa3-1.jpg (75215 bytes)September 9

This morning there was a huge parade along the waterfront. Each denomination, choir group or other organization marched in blocks of color (pictured in  background) which seemingly went on forever. 
We had to raft all the boats in the anchorage together at the wharf, which meant rafting 5 or 6 deep against the tugboats to make room for the long boat races.


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We attended the popular Miss Tutti Fruiti Contest where Fa'fafinis from Samoa vied for the coveted title. What a hoot. The contestants ask that we were to laugh with them not at them so that is what we did!

We had learned about Fa'fafinis in the Marquesas and saw their presence  throughout the islands, working in stores, restaurants and in just walking in the street. Fa'fafinis are men who act and dress as women. Usually the seventh boy born in a family of no girls is raised as a girl to help out with the cooking and chores, so it is a very accepted part of the culture. I am not sure of their sexual preferences, some are definitely trying to attract other men but I am told that some are also married with children.

Our friend Tina (the masseuse) started the show by singing. She has a wonderful voice and is very popular with the locals. The male contestants were knockouts and very feminine... giving the women here competition. They had the undergarment division, the fruit outfits, talent, and evening wear. 

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August 31, Apia 016.jpg (30233 bytes)September 11
As part of the Festival, tents were set up displaying handicrafts and demonstrating the art of making tapas, baskets, hand-screened fabrics, carvings, etc. Traditional Samoan food was served gratis so we could sample the seafood, lobster, breadfruit, taro and lots of other delicacies served on woven plates made from palm fronds.
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August 31, Apia 038.jpg (30466 bytes)FLOWER FLOAT PARADE

To celebrate the end of the Festival, there was a huge parade in the streets. All the floats were decorated with live flowers and plants. The Samoan Princess was an important part of the parade. There was lots of traditional costumes displayed and everyone from all the surrounding villages attended the parade.

2004_0831_221519AA.jpg (20612 bytes)Happy hours continued as we awaited a weather window to sail overnight to Tonga. We are looking forward to meeting up with other cruisers in Nuiatoputapu, the northernmost island of Tonga.