Published: July 11th 2009July 8th 2009
At first that might sound lame, but to be honest, it was gorgeous!
Waking up on the 7th, there are many things entering my mind. One... my boss is leaving today and two... my birthday, this had better be an epic day. I open up the curtains in my stateroom and see a Greenpeace ship moored right in front of our ship. Okay, so random tangent here. I'm not necessarily opposed to what they stand for (except in a couple cases, like the nuclear stuff that they're ignorant about), their methods can just be pretty scary to me. Why bother hurting people when you're trying to promote peace. Furthermore, graffiti certainly isn't eco-friendly, but who am I to judge? Anyway, it's a teeny tiny ship, thinking about getting a tour possibly. I suppose I shouldn't wear my uniform. I don't want them to kidnap me.
I said bon voyage to my boss in the morning and as soon as he was gone, I threw down the liberty call (yep, I was the boss with him gone). Do you blame me? We didn't have anything really to do and it's my bday dammit! I woke up
Eating at "Gourmet Seafood"
Brittany tried cooked fish for the first time
Brittany and Kyle and started to execute my grand plan.
It was Brittany and Kyle's 32 hours off, so they were awesome enough to hang out with me for the birthday festivities. Shoot, who am I kidding? They are the festivities! We started off a little later than I would have liked, but they needed to sleep of course. I called Misa to come get us at 1pm and we took off. We stopped by a little shop to get some souvenirs and such. I still didn't get a lava lava (the skirt thing all the guys wear). I find a beautiful shell necklace with a tribal turtle on it and a great hair stick (I'm into those chop stick things) with mother of pearl shell. Absolutely beautiful and not too terribly expensive. We see a surf shop and stop off (Kyle of course won't let that one slip by) to browse. I find a cute little outfit and decide to get it.
Of course by this point I'm absolutely starving, so we stop at a place called Gourmet Seafood. This place doesn't exactly scream "gourmet" to me, but it's clean
and open to the lovely wind. I get some grilled tuna and my vegetarian girly, Brit, finally tries some. How is it you wait 20 something years to try fish! OMG! She liked it, despite the being slightly overcooked issue. Two Vailimas later, we finish up and Misa comes back to pick us up. Time for South Island time!
Off we go at mach speed, in Misa's minivan taxi, called "Teriana's Ride". It's the mixed names of his daughters, quite sweet. Anyway, I think we're going to die, I still have a day to turn 29. I might not make it. Obviously I am writing this, so I must have made it through, I wasn't so sure at the time. The roads are narrow, people speed and don't really slow down as they pass one another. It's a bit intimidating, probably a good thing I didn't try to rent a car.... I wanted to live. As we pass landmarks I know, I try to give Brittany the cultural/local stories that I've learned. We stopped again at Papapappai-tai Falls to take some photos again and then we get to Lupe's about half an hour after leaving
Lupe's is in between two resorts, Sinalei and Coconuts, just a low key bar with no expectations and a great atmosphere. I get to know the family who owns it and the surf camp next door. Ian and Vanessa's little dive shop are located here as well. Kyle runs off to go surfing, leaving me and Brittany to just chill out. I had every intention of taking her out snorkeling but it just made more sense for us to hang out and relax at Lupe's. We start talking to the kids and almost immediately they adopt us. We played with all the kids, including Lupe, Sulu and their little cousins. They just couldn't leave me alone. They exhausted us and kept us occupied with games of peek-a-boo and ring around the rosey. Though Sulu wasn't old enough to know English (she's only 3), we communicated with sign language and hugs. Vanessa and Ian came later in the evening and we had lots of Vailima (the local beer) and great talks. We ate the barbequed buffet, prepared by Sala (the Dad). Then came Bee.
I should probably take the moment to discuss what
fa'afafine is. I had heard about it on an episode of NatGeo on Taboo things, but didn't think I'd be getting to Samoa to experience it. The fa'afafine are men who are raised as women, totally part of the culture. Pretty much consider it like a transvestite, but some of them are married to women, some to men... doesn't matter. They live their lives as women. I had the opportunity to meet Bee, she called herself Beyonce, though she never gave her Samoan name. We had a long, drunken discussion on the different cultural biases in both of our countries. There are no lesbians here though, that are openly gay anyway. It was very interesting.
We made it an early night and retired to our rooms, Kyle was determined to get up early for another surf session. It was a long, warm night... still satisfying and relaxing to be a happy enough birthday. I woke Brittany up the next morning to have breakfast at Coconuts, a Belgian waffle filled with coconut and almonds with a little banana on top. Yummy.... Oh, and a sweet present was waking up to the rainbow over the ocean. This place should seriously
be a Corona commercial. It's a shame to leave.
Misa, can you pick us up? I have to go back to the ship to work for a busy day of flight ops as the Helicopter Control Officer. Brittany was super sweet and brought me a huge piece of chocolate cake to the tower later in the day. Eat it until you're sick! What? I really shouldn't... You have to, it's your birthday!
So it's off to Tonga now, just kind of sad to be leaving such a great spot behind. Fa'afetai tele (thanks so much) Samoa, I won't forget you anytime soon. Talo (goodbye)...
There are more photos below