A day at Palolo Deep Marine Reserve

If you are in Apia for a day, especially Sundays; the only thing to go is a day at the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve. It is a private park with an amazing reef a few dozen yards out. It is within walking distance from the town of Apia, too. Read more

Maninoa Surf Fales is cool.

I ended up at Maninoa Surf Fales for a few days which one interesting because I am not a surfer. I actually end up missing the bus back to Apia on Saturday and nothing moves on Sunday. I do mean nothing moves on Sunday too. Read more

A Backpacker’s guide to (Western) Samoa : Traveling in Paradise on the cheap!

If you are thinking of being a backpacker in Samoa, you will have a blast. It is everything that someone would want. It is rough. It is undeveloped. The people are friendly. It can be cheap. I have been to the country at least a half dozen times. Well, at least enough the Immigration office knew me on a first name basis.  Read more

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Staying at the Tatiana Motel in Apia, Samoa

I stayed at Tatiana Motel that is downtown Apia and it should be a last resort as a place to stay. It double as a venue for prostitution, teenagers trying to make babies and even gay hookups. Basically anyone that will give them the $40 can do whatever they want. It has become a security nightmare. Read more

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BlueSky American Samoa has wifi on island!

If you are needing to get online while in American Samoa, your best bet would be to use the wifi cards offered by BlueSky American Samoa. They have developed it over the last few years. It is not the fastest in the world but it does work and it is unlimited. That is not common in the South Pacific. Read more

Going to church in Samoa

Church is Samoa is a big deal. It is a super big deal. They live for church. Some might question how much it leads one’s life but no question that church is center to Samoan life. The Constitution begins, “Samoa is found on God.”

Come Sunday, try and get your best clothes on, clear out your day and head to the closest village church. If you do not have anything nice, ask a local what to wear. A nice lavalava and Hawaiian will work for a Palagi (white person). Church in Samoa is a touchy thing.

Be warned: church services are long and the preacher can preach even longer. Pastors are under the belief that Sunday is their day to speak as long as they want and as Christians, the people should be there taking notes.

My guess would be three hours is average. 

Will you understand Church in Samoa?

This will all depend on the pastor’s education and the education of the people in the village you are in. If the pastor speak decent english and he thinks the people understand english enough; he will probably switch from Samoan to English.

2933409Otherwise, some younger person will come over and sit next to you and tell you what the pastor is saying. If not, just smile and enjoy the experience.

Depending what type of church you go to, they might do more singing than speaking. Others have long winded preachers. Just go with the flow.

After church people will come up to you and talk to you, culturally, they are expected to welcome and honor the palagi (white person). They will ask you to come to their home for dinner. Enjoy the Sunday feast in the village.

About an hour or so, later, try your best to excuse yourself so you can enjoy your day. They understand you have other things to do and they will plan to nap all day anyways.

Anyways, Enjoy church and you never know; God might speak to you in Samoan.

Sleeping in fales in Samoa

Samoan have slept on beaches in what we would think of as “park shelters” for a very long time.  It works for them and it is quite the experience, a positive one for us. They are called fales.

Samoa is hot! Because of that and poverty; air conditioning is out of the question. The Samoans instead have build homes close to the ocean and without walls….Free Air Conditioning.

Alot of families have build some fales, or huts, next to the ocean that they rent out for $20 (50 Tala) a night and they even cook the food for you.

This is very popular on the South Coast of Upulu (main island) and the big island, Savaii. Depending where you are, you might have or might not have electricity. Make sure you charge up your Kindle before leaving town areas. 

Why fales are amazing

When I go to Samoa, I need to study and take time to read for my studies. There is nothing more relaxing sitting in a hamlet, reading my Kindle, listening to the waves come from the Pacific Ocean.

If I need something to drink, I can just go to the little store down the road and get a 750ml of Coca-Cola or King Cola. (a local soda) Being in the fales is great for everything beside getting on the internet.
Every morning, the guest will bring you a breakfast. It will be some fruit, toast and tea. It is not a buffet line but this is Samoa, after all. Around noon and in the early evening, they will serve you a Samoan dinner. It might look weird but Samoans love their food. In fact, food is a center piece of culture there.

I think I had more hot tea staying in fales in Samoa than I have had in my life. They love tea. It is nice to cleanse your system with it for a few days though. Bring a box of tea bags from Apia might be a smart move.

Bring a light jacket!

Late at night, the wind can get really chilly. You will be glad you had a light jacket or bring a blanket. For the most part, you might not need it but you will be glad you did….especially if it rains. Samoan downpours are not light showers most of the time.

 

Village life in Samoa

Going to a Samoan village can be quite the educational encounter. You can learn alot about a culture that is basically untouched by Western ideals for the most part.

Note: this article is written in the context of (Western) Samoa, not American Samoa. The experience would differ a little.

What is life like in a Samoan village?

Samoans are amazing people. If you come into a village; there is a chance they will offer you tea (Commonwealth influence) and some Bananas. They would love to just sit down and talk to you. They will do their best with English so don’t worry about that.

They love to get people from other countries. They will call you “Palagi.” It just means simply you are white. They do not mean it in a racist way though it can seem that way. Samoans are just like that.

Try and come around on the weekends

If you can, come around the Samoan village on the weekend and you can have to To’ona’i. This is like a weekly Thanksgiving dinner for us. It is quite the operation.

Here is a great video from the Food Network about it.

It is quite an amazing feast. You will love it. It is mostly Samoan food but you might just find some western food slip on the table. I have saw Jello and Fried Chicken as well as the Taro.

You will love it. 

Enjoy the time and remember this is not the West. Tradition is you always take off your shoes at a door of a fale, always cross your legs and make sure you honor the presence of the older men in a room. Otherwise, you should be good to go.

Afterwards, just grab your tablet and do some reading on Sunday afternoon! But be careful with your Kindle, Samoans love devices. Really, they do….alot. Just a word to the wise.