Apia


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Oceania » Samoa » Upolu » Apia
August 11th 2018
Published: August 11th 2018
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Unlike some other cars here in Samoa our trusty little number hasn’t spontaneously combusted overnight, so we decide to head into the capital, Apia, to have a look around. We’ve been told that the speed limits in Samoa are 40 kilometres per hour in villages and 60 kilometres per hour everywhere else, but there aren’t any signs along the road to confirm this, and there seem to be houses at varying intervals along most of the road so we’re not quite sure how we’re supposed to know when we’re in a village and when we’re not. We wouldn’t want to get deported for speeding, so we play it safe and stick to 40, but now we seem to be in grave danger of infuriating most of the other drivers, and we begin to wonder whether getting deported might be the less dangerous of the two evils.

Issy’s email has been down for a few days, but it’s come back up again now and it seems that she’s been reading the blog. She is not very happy that I wrote that she screamed when she found a spider in the toilet on our way around Savai’i a few days ago. She says that she very calmly came out of the toilet and told me that I should come in and take a look at the large, hairy, menacing-looking eight legged monster that was perched near the top of the toilet bowl. I tell her that while this may be true, my version is much more interesting, and that if I really wanted to exaggerate I’m sure I could have come up with something way more juicy. She insists that I correct this factual inaccuracy. I wonder if admitting that the story was an exaggeration a few days later will satisfy her. I suspect not, and that I will now be in even more trouble when she reads this. This may be my last blog entry.

We see the first land "for sale" sign that we’ve seen since we arrived in Samoa. We assumed that land wasn’t bought or sold here because everyone buries their ancestors on it and it would be a bit hard to take them with you if you decided to sell up and leave. The block that’s for sale is however in the middle of some thick jungle, so we assume that no one’s had a chance to bury any of their relatives on it just yet.

We turn onto the road that crosses the island from south to north, and get stunning views over Apia and the north coast from the top of the range. As we drive down into the suburbs of the capital we move out of the land of fales into more conventional suburbia, which isn’t nearly as attractive.

We walk around the Apia waterfront, and our first stop is the very large and impressive Immaculate Conception Cathedral. As we are about to go in we see a group of women rubbing oil all over the near naked bodies of a group of young Samoan men in warrior garb. There’s a wedding in progress, and part way through the ceremony the now oiled-up warriors parade down the aisle brandishing their weapons. I hope that this is supposed to be part of the ceremony, and it’s not that one of the happy couple’s families has decided that they don’t want the ceremony to go ahead and have chosen this as the way to stop it. The interior of the church is stunning, particularly the wooden ceiling, which is very distinctly Samoan.

Issy isn’t in to going into churches; I think she’s worried that if she does the roof will fall in. I go up to the balcony to get a better view of the ceremony and when I come back down I find her outside talking to a young Samoan man. I ask her what they talked about and she tells me that he told her several times that he was single. I think that maybe I need to keep a closer eye on my beloved.

We walk on past Apia’s apparently iconic clock tower, which is in the middle of a large and very busy roundabout. I’m pretty sure that this is the roundabout that I nearly got arrested for driving the wrong way around when we were here in 1993. It looks like it’s the town’s main intersection, and I’m surprised that I didn’t cause carnage when I tried to drive around it the wrong way. The sight of it brings back some not so fond memories.

We wander on through some of the town’s markets and then down to main waterfront bus stop. The buses are all packed, and it seems that if you can’t get a seat it’s quite acceptable to just plonk yourself down on some random stranger’s lap. The buses are all very colourfully decorated.

We have lunch at what looks like the Samoan equivalent of KFC. It’s Saturday, and the town appears to be shutting down for the remainder of the weekend.

We drive back up over the range, and as we near the hotel we see a police roadblock up ahead. I wonder if it’s just me, or whether everyone just naturally feels guilty when confronted by the constabulary. We wind down our window and ask the nice officer if he would like to see the temporary Samoan Driver’s Licence that the man from the rental car company wrote out for us yesterday. It looked genuine enough at the time, but I’m now starting to have some doubts. The officer doesn’t seem too interested in seeing the licence and asks us instead whether we are on a trip. I wonder if this is a trick question. It’s hard to imagine that we’d be in a car if we weren’t on a trip. I then begin to wonder if this is the sort of trip he‘s referring to, and whether he might instead be with the drug squad. I decide to take the risk and tell him that yes indeed we are on a trip. He waves us on, and we breathe again.

We spend a very enjoyable evening watching the resort’s all male song and dance troupe perform their traditional Samoan repertoire.

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