Friday, September 6, 2013

A Very Special Day

We have met some wonderful people since we arrived in Western Samoa - cruisers and the Samoans.  Everyone has been warm and friendly and very interested in our lives.

Paulo and Family
But our best experience so far, was being befriended by Paulo - one of the security guards at the Samoan Port Authority which manages the Apia Marina. 

Paulo volunteered to take us around the island, plus to his village to meet his family.  No way we are going to miss that opportunity!

Falefa Waterfalls
So, we loaded up in Paulo's car and drove to the village of Falefa, which is located on the beautiful coast of Upolu about an hours drive from Apia. 

Paulo's father, Salesa, is one of the head Matais (Chiefs) of the village; Paulo is one of the Chief Orators (Talking Chiefs). 

Paulo and Doug having fun
We were greeted very warmly by Salesa (Father), Sita (Mom), Sefo (Brother) and PJ (Nephew) that share their home.  Salesa speaks very good English and we were able to sit in their Fale (open thatched roof house) and tell him about ourselves and learn about his family and village.

After a short visit, Paulo took us touring around the island, but promised that we would come back and have lunch with his family.  So, off we went.

What a beautiful coast
It is a beautiful drive across the island - so green and lush and so nice and cool! 

We visited the Sopoago Waterfalls visitor center, which is run by Tia, her family, and all of her chickens.  Just put some Tala in the Honesty Box. 

Sopoago Falls
The falls are beautiful, plus the grounds around the falls have been landscaped with all of the native plants and trees, plus signs written in Samoan and English with the names of each.  Very nice.

Paulo and Tia showed us how to husk, open, and shred the coconuts and extract the tasty coconut milk.  Tia's chickens sure love coconut - you had to fight them off!

Tia and her chickens
Next we drove to To-Sua, a giant swimming hole which is 100 feet deep and only accessible by going down a long ladder. 

To-Sua swimming hole
Doug was brave enough to climb the ladder and go for a swim.  The water is brackish - part fresh; part salt water and very clear, plus you can swim back into the cave. 

He said it was very refreshing and worth the climb.  I should have gone in.

Climbing back up
Then, a little more touristing and back to the Paulo's village for lunch.  What an experience!

Large handmade mats were brought out and placed in a cool spot for us to sit.  Well, we aren't very flexible, so the family thought it very interesting/entertaining that we couldn't sit cross legged like they do, but we managed.

Lunch with the Chief
Paulo's Father, Salesa, sat on his mat to the right of us (facing us).  Sefo, Paulo's Brother, prepared our food.  Apparently, men do most of the cooking in Samoa. 

The food was brought out on big platters covered with banana leaves and were filled with Samoan chicken and rice, taro covered with coconut milk, and corned beef.

A prayer was said by Salesa and then we ate - only the 3 of us.  The rest of the family had to wait until we had finished until they were allowed to eat.  Strange, but that is the custom.  Paulo did sit with us to fan us and make sure we were comfortable and enjoying our meal. 

After lunch, Salesa showed us all of the beautiful mats made by his wife, Sita, and insisted that we take one home with us, plus woven necklaces, papaya, and taro.  Paulo's family leads a very simple life, but were so very generous and we only brought brownies!

Enjoying the falls and cool air
Paulo, his wife, and children live in the town of Apia to be closer to work.  We hope to meet the rest of the family one of these days.  We have invited them to have ice cream with us, plus I want to send some gifts to their homes and give them a copy of the picture we took of our visit.  Something to remember us by.

Looking over the valley
It was really a wonderful experience and we promised to visit the family again if we ever return to Apia.  Next time, we will bring more than brownies!

Checking out the beautiful coast

PS:  You should have seen Doug trying to stand up after sitting crosslegged - what a hoot.


"My Blessings" said...

A favorite post! I enjoyed catching up on the journey! Be safe and continue having fun! Happy Belated Birthday! love, /dj

Anonymous said...

Oh how I envy you two and all of the wonderful events with the locals there is no better way of getting to know your new place they sound so genuine and sincere wish I were there to share your pictures are fantastic!