Sunday, November 20 (Day 82)
I might have got home by 1.30am but that still means I was out for 7 hours last night. The hangover isn’t pleasant in this humid little room with the fan churning my sweaty, smelly alcohol breath around and around and around. You spin me right round, baby, right round.
It is noon before I emerge from my bat cave. Outside, a German and an Austrian lad are enjoying a Pall Mall each on the veranda, peering out at the stormy clouds threatening to break the humidity. I really laugh when I discover that they have come all the way to Samoa to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup first round playoff between four of the world’s worst teams: The Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa and American Samoa. The winners of this four-team round robin are rewarded with a berth in the Oceania World Cup group. I seem to recall that American Samoa lost 36-0 to Australia some years ago, the biggest defeat in world cup history. Damn! This mini tournament starts the day after I leave. I am gutted. Watching the world’s worst football teams take each other on is like its own mini World Cup finals. Respect to David and his Austrian friend for coming all the way here to experience this highlight of the world football calendar.
(Update 28th November: Samoa have narrowly made it through to Round Two of Oceania qualifying for Brazil 2014 after a tight 1-0 win to deny close neighbours American Samoa. Tonga finished second, on goals scored, after they defeated the Cook Islands 2-1)
Sundays in Apia really are a write off. It’s like the majority of the world’s population has been wiped out by a killer virus (perhaps they have been) and there are only 50 of us left, aimlessly strolling around the capital city of Samoa along with several hundred dogs. There’s only one supermarket open and all that seems to stock is tinned corned beef, tinned tuna and a vast array of sugary biscuits.
I find myself singing Ghost Town by the Specials as I stroll up the peninsula, but abandon my walk after a couple of kilometres in fear of two mischievous-looking dogs that seem to be following me. Despite my Samoan dog fear, I haven’t experienced a single dodgy incident with the local hounds.
More aimless wandering takes me in the opposite direction to the wharf, where I watch the ferry slip lazily into port from American Samoa. Close to the wharf is the famous Aggie Grey’s. This is a delightful colonial hotel that has seen guests including the British Royal Family overnight. I hang around the cocktail bar for a quick Vailima, pretending to be rich enough to stay here and imagining former guests that include Marlon Brando drinking in this charming pastiche of yesteryear.
Back at the motel I meet the lovely Montse from Spain. She’s just arrived in Samoa and asks me to give her a few pointers about Savaii. Damn, I wish I was leaving for that island tomorrow with her instead of flying back to New Zealand. By the way, Robert Louis Stevenson, the man who wrote Treasure Island, chose to spend his last years on Upolu. I am starting to see what the attraction was.