Published: April 3rd 2008April 3rd 2008
Robert Louis Stevenson's house
Samoa - my last stop. I arrived on a Monday night which weirdly became Sunday night due to passing through the timeline just before landing. Having spent most of the original Monday on buses and planes, it was good to have another Monday to do something more exciting and mosey around Apia (the capital) finding my bearings and seeing the sights. Went to see the house where Robert Louis Stevenson lived and worked and had his being before dying of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 44 in the middle of writing a story. He went there (with his wife and various family members) when he was a TB suffering 40 year old in search of a better climate for his flagging lungs. Apparently he only meant to stay a few weeks to finish writing some newspaper columns but in the end he loved the place so much he and his entourage stayed and built the house. The locals loved him too, giving him the nickname "Tusitala" which means teller of tales, and when he died they hacked a path (known as the "Road of Loving Hearts") up the hill behind the house and buried him at the top in
a grave overlooking his home, Apia and the mountains and sea beyond. Not a bad way to go really, though twas a shame he was still youngish and never got to finish his story.
Anyway, I mooched in Apia a couple more days and then went across to Savai'i, the quietest and least populated of the Samoan islands, and stayed in a fale (see photo) for a good few days. I intended to do much musing and writing there but in the end I read, slept and swam a lot and got to know some of the locals which felt infinitely better at the time. One thing that particularly struck me was the way they live so openly. Most of the houses are literally just floors and roofs with columns, not walls, supporting everything. If a storm blows up then they pull down raffia-type blinds but apart from that there's no other protection. Coming from a country obsessed with property, personal security and net curtains, I was mightily impressed. I don't think I've met such unself-concious and trusting people. You could literally walk past homes and see all the household goods on display (TVs, computers etc) and if people
were in, they'd be sleeping, chatting, eating or singing totally oblivious to outside eyes. I never did ask about the crime rate (I imagine it can't be that high) but I did find out that when crimes are committed, they're generally dealt with by the aigas (extended families) and the matai (chief) and confession and forgiveness are more the thing than long prison sentences.
So, lots to learn and much to muse upon just from walking around the village. Just as well cos there wasn't a great deal to do around Jane's beach (the mini-resort where I was staying) and by the end of my stay I felt ready to come home. All in all it was a beautiful place with some great stand-out moments (eg: watching the candle-lit Good Friday procession go past my fale at 5.30am and listening to the unexpectedly beautiful singing, going to church on Easter Sunday in my best frock and being the only one colourfully attired among a white-clad congregation, travelling by bus to and from the main town and being one of the skinniest on board (!), getting completely squashed and standing all the way on the packed boat back to Apia
and, finally, being chatted up by at least 4 men at the airport on the last proper day of my travels [flaming typical!!]). Whether I'll ever go back I know not but travels anew are already floating through my head so I doubt very much if this will be the last of the blogs. For now though, this is it so thanks for reading and hopefully catch up with you soon! Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
There are more photos below