Tuesday, November 15 (Day 77)
Aganoa – Salelologa (Savai’i) – Mulifanua – Apia (Upolu) (Samoa)
There’s a huge Huntsman spider parked behind the door in the toilet. What is it with spiders the size of plates and toilets in the tropics? Aside from this scary looking character and other unwanted enemies such as the SNMA (Samoan National Mosquito Army) I must declare that I am a big fan of Samoa. Yes, there are many, many weird and wonderful idiosyncrasies here but, after a week or two, you find yourself assimilating to all this and the abnormal soon begins to seem a bit more… normal. No, it is not Fiji in terms of levels of comfort and standards, but it beats its South Pacific cousin in ways that are only just becoming apparent to me. You certainly feel like you are travelling somewhere very, very real when you are in this country. Life is easy and simple here and sometimes you have to conclude that this is the way it should be. The TV, newspapers, glossy magazines, mainstream advertising, internet, government propaganda, one-dimensional US culture; all of it seems to absent from this place.
I say my farewells to Glass Knee, Ulrika (Stephanie-Claudia-Barbara), and Scorchio and kindly get dropped off at the ferry terminal by Shaun, a surfer from Cape Town. After 12 days in Samoa I have several unanswered questions. Here are two of them:
1) Why does the bus driver tell you the bus fare is 1.50 and then, when you give him 1.50, he gives you 50 sene change? (This has happened on three occasions)
2) Why do they operate a ferry schedule that runs completely independently of the ferry schedule? The Lady Samoa II is timetabled to leave at 10am. I arrive at 9.30 but it is leaving at 12. The same ferry timetable discrepancy occurred on the trip over to Savai’i.
With water surging into the Samoan sky from blowholes on the rocky shore of Savaii, it is time to leave beautiful, chilled cloud cuckoo land and set sail for the island of Upolu.
It is 2pm by the time I reach the crazy capital. Until today I hadn’t seen a single policeman in Samoa – literally not one - and now, as I lug my backpack down the dusty streets of Apia, there are uniformed police absolutely everywhere. A local lad who has just spent a couple of days on Savai’I with a very freckly Chilean girl he knows from Upolu tells me:
Police because schools fighting.
Upon telling me this I have visions of twenty of the hardest lads from each school kicking off with each other like two firms of football hooligans.
How many of them were fighting? Twenty?
No, man, when the schools fight every student from each school is fighting with the other school.
That is Samoa all over: peaceful, friendly and chilled out, and then one sunny Tuesday afternoon the whole of the country’s police force is called in to action to prevent an all-out-war between two secondary schools.