I’m so tired, disoriented, scared by the packs of wild dogs, confused and thrown by the seemingly continents-apart difference between the Samoan and Fijian vibe, head-a-spinning at the thought of the extra day in my life I’ve acquired and the fact that I am somehow one day younger now, that I find myself hiding away in my room until after noon, lying staring into the ceiling fan as it spins frantically around on its axis. Weird. It’s all a bit weird.
I meet Jade in town and sit down with her for a good 30 minutes putting together a rough itinerary for my 18-night stay on the islands. Take a stick with you and don’t be afraid to hit the dogs with it, she tells me when I tell her I’m more than a little wary of packs of dogs; especially after I thought I saw three eating that hapless bloke last night. Internet, she tells me, is around 10-15 quid for 2 hours in Samoa. A monthly plan might set you back a hundred quid. The going rate for midrange accommodation is around 100 US a night or more but I can get beach fale including breakfast and dinner for around 70 tala (20 quid) in a few decent places.
What about bars and clubs? I ask her, well aware that my second Friday night in the space of 24 hours is upon us.
The clubs open at 5 or 6pm, music stops at 10 and the doors close at 12.
FFS! Imagine the Argentines coming here on holiday. They’d just be getting ready to go out for dinner just as everything closes.
Tatiana’s is close to Apia market and the main bus station. I’m not making this up but there are blokes walking around dressed as women. I mean everywhere. They are like pretty sumo wrestlers with makeup. What is going on here? You couldn’t really describe them as transvestites and they certainly aren’t lady boys. They are just strapping big lads wearing pretty dresses with the occasional bit of makeup. I need to get myself back to my room to hide and play this all over in my mind.
I’m lying on my bed at 3pm, sweat pouring off me, listening to the latest full-on downpour (the rainy season has commenced), thinking I have an hour’s lie low then I need to get ready to go out clubbing! A lad working with Jade in the Samoan Tourism office tipped me off that V-Bar is the place to go tonight. Starting at 5pm, the club has got a drink-as-much-as-you-like two-hour special entrance for 30 Tala (roughly 8 pathetic pounds). It takes some effort to get myself off my bed, into the shower, book a taxi and get out on the town for this 5pm night-clubbing session but I realise the only way I am going to assimilate to Bonkers Ville is if I do things the Bonkers Ville way.
My taxi driver is a lovely Samoan bloke who seems extremely happy to discuss rugby union with an Englishman. He talks me through all of Samoa’s greatest rugby moments and tells me that the ref was bribed for the South Africa v Samoa match, which the Bokke narrowly won at North Harbour last month. I seem to be in the taxi with him a good fifteen minutes but it only sets me back 5 tala when he drops me off at V-Bar, close to the wharf at 4.50pm. Ok, I have arrived ten minutes early. Spot on.
At the door to the club I peer inside and can only see two local blokes who appear to be fixing the sound system. This looks like it isn’t going to happen.
Is there a party here today?
Yes, it starts at 5.30. Don’t worry
OK, so I’ve arrived 40 minutes before the club has even opened, but it looks to me like nobody is going to show up. Naturally, I feel like legging it from here but judging by the silliness of Samoa thus far, I’ve got a feeling, somehow, that it is worth me hanging around.
Come 5.25 and one has become six. Bugger it! I’m going to pay my 30 tala and get a rum and coke down my neck to take away the edge. Inside the club, the tunes are blasting out, the air con is on full blast and the rum and cokes are coming thick and fast. I reckon if I have four I’ll have had very good value for money. With four rum and cokes back-of-the-netted I check my phone to see how much of the allotted two hour drinking session I have remaining. Whoops! It is 5.58.
The punters are starting to roll in although the clientele is not as expected. I was told that this joint caters almost exclusively to local expats and tourists, with the odd Samoan thrown in for good measure. There are now 30 of us present and I’m the only palagi (foreigner) to put in an appearance. As the clock begins to surge towards the final thirty minutes, plenty more people turn up including some weather-worn looking Aussie girls. I’m getting invited over to every table in the place to sit, drink and chat with the locals. They are all offering me to join them for the rest of the evening after V-Bar. One Samoan says he’s been out on the beers for the last 30 consecutive evenings. I’m also starting to get introduced to local girls and I’m quickly noticing that any conversation with said ladies lasting more than five minutes leads to me being lead to their brothers and cousins ‘to be introduced’.
By the time the sun sets I am not altogether sure whether it’s all going Pete Tong or whether this is turning into one of those brilliant nights out that you are never going to forget. Despite the copious amounts of alcohol I am somehow managing to keep the shutters up. By 9pm I seem to be friends with half of the Samoan and Tongan clubbing fraternity…
…and then it gets funny and messy and silly and I can’t even bring myself to write about what transpires during the next eight hours of Samoan madness.