I have few particularly distinct memories from primary school, most are kind of vague with the details blurred with a thousand other memories. Let’s face it, most days a school were pretty much like the last (or perhaps that’s true of life in general). However, there is one memory that has been seared so determinedly into my brain that just the mere thought of it takes me back to that spot, sitting on the floor in the library, second row from the front and slightly towards the window side of the room. It was a grade 2 “cultural performance” – culture in Horsham in 1986 being pretty thin on the ground – a dance and music group from the South Pacific. I thought it was THE BEST thing I had ever seen, better even than the Moscow Circus (which was a BIG deal in those days) that my parents spent a fortune taking us to. The women were so, so beautiful, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Their voices had a melodic quality – quiet, soft yet for me deeply affecting. Their movements so light and fluid. The men on the other hand were strong, definitive and striking. They moved with vigor and incredible pace, the beat from the drum hammering with such intensity. I was transported from that grey breeze-block rural Victorian school, to an Island paradise and ever since I’ve been drawn to the South Pacific.
Our most recent adventure was to Samoa, beautiful, awe-inspiring and ever so charming. I loved everything about it (except the brief bout of food poisoning, but I won’t hold that against the whole country). Lots of people seemed surprised, even puzzled, when we said we were going to Samoa. I guess Fiji is the obvious choice for that part of the world, especially with kids. But I was looking for a cultural experience, something to bring back those feelings of 8 year old me, a place that could offer Miss 6 and Miss 8 something more than a resort. And although we did stay in a pretty flash new resort (because a bit of luxury is nice too, right?) we also got the cultural perspective I was hoping for.
Samoa’s tourist industry is still pretty fledgling, in comparison to places like Fiji, but that’s all part of the charm. We also went at the very beginning of the dry season (which was still pretty wet), so there were very few other tourists around. Our tour guides, the resort workers, the taxi drivers, all treated us with such warmth, like they were personally welcoming us to the country they loved so much. Every conversation started with “Is this your first time in Samoa?”, followed by “Are you New Zealanders or Australians?” They loved the kids, there was lots of touching of their heads and terms of endearment for them. The girls were a little unsure about it at times. And while everything happened on ‘Island Time’ – don’t expect your morning coffee to take any less than 30 minutes to arrive – the charm and warmth of the people was by far the highlight of the trip.
Other highlights included: the Apia flea market – which I failed to photograph for whatever sill reason – and fresh produce market.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum – this is his house and the bed he did most of his writing in.
Piula Cave Pool and the nearby sea turtle sanctuary
The Fia Fia Night (the tradition food served during this was delicious!)
Watching Mr Good and the girls spend so much time having fun in the resort pool.
And getting out and have a bit of fun with my camera after a long hiatus.
Samoa, go there! You won’t be disappointed.