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Published: April 13th 2019
Hello from Apia, the capitol of Samoa – also known as Western Samoa. We arrived this morning about 9:30. That gave us time to sleep in a little and still have a nice breakfast before the ship arrived. David was able to go out on deck to take a few pictures as we arrived in port. There is a local tradition of having some native dancers on the pier to welcome ships as they arrive, and we had a good view from the Promenade Deck.
According to the information channel on the TV, we are at longitude of 171W and latitude of 13S. We will still visit some ports even further south, but all will be back toward the east. This is the farthest west that we will go on our cruise. So in one sense we are at the midpoint of the cruise. By the way, the 10:00 AM temperature said 86 degrees.
We met in the Crown Grill and we got to wait there instead of traversing all the stairs in the Princess Theater. Shortly before letting everyone else leave who were in our tour, we got to ride the elevators down and head for the buses.
Once we got on the pier it was more of a free-for-all as there were a large number of small buses and we all headed for a vacant one. Actually we got good seats on a 20 person bus and had a good guide (Poto). Our bus was one of the first to leave the pier so we got to each destination ahead of most other buses.
Our first stop was at a town market where they sold lots of different craft goods. The bus has a high step up from the ground so Janet stayed on the bus while David walked around the craft stalls. Once everyone boarded the bus again, we drove down the coast road and Poto pointed out many of the significant buildings. This seems to be a pretty prosperous country as there was a lot of construction underway and a variety of new buildings. We were told that this summer Samoa will host the Pan-Pacific Games. We made our next stop at the tomb of a recently deceased leader of the country, but we did not get his name.
We drove on to a second marketplace, still in Apia. This is primarily a
produce market with only a few craft stalls. David got off again and walked around. There were a lot of bananas, breadfruits, taros, and especially coconuts. There were also plenty of flower stalls with very pretty/colorful fresh cut flowers. There were a number of bread stands with a variety of kinds of breads. The most interesting item that David saw were many stands selling large bags of dried banana chips. Back on the bus, without buying anything, Poto offered us a coconut with the top chopped off. David took it to try the coconut milk and tried to pass it on to others on the bus to sample, but nobody wanted it – so he drank a whole coconut. She got 2 more coconuts for other passengers, but it didn’t seem to be popular with many of our group.
We drove on around town and were told that Samoa was the first Pacific Island with traffic lights – now they seem to have quite a few of them. Also we were told that they achieved independence from New Zealand 65 years ago. New Zealand had taken them from Germany during WW2 – who would have thought Germany had Pacific
We made the next stop at the Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, it is the only cathedral in Samoa. We all went inside, including Janet, and it was really very pretty inside. The ceiling was all wood fashioned into distinctive patterns. There were many rows of highly polished pews. There were many doors standing open on all sides and a cool breeze kept it very comfortable inside. There was a dome above the altar with an interesting depiction of a woman standing with a headdress with a number of men sitting around her. Above that was a more classic painting of the Assumption. There were beautiful stained-glass windows all around, including 14 depictions of the “stations of the cross”. It was very impressive.
We then went for a drive up into the hillside to the home of Robert Lewis Stevenson. This was where Stevenson lived the last 5 years of his life. It is a beautifully restored museum now and we got a quick understanding of his life and his family. Nobody was allowed to wear their shoes in the museum – either had to take them off or wear booties over their shoes. The first
floor was a couple of large rooms and the upstairs had 5 bedrooms – one was for Stevenson and also served as his office, one for his wife, one for a daughter who also was his secretary, one for his mother and one for his son. Each room had a local guide who explained a little about that person and what their life was like in the family. Back on the first floor, the tour ended in a great-room which served as the main family gathering room. They have three first edition books but none of the original manuscripts. But it was very interesting.
Janet had not been able to climb to the second floor so she saw the main floor rooms and then went out on a large covered patio. There were a couple hundred chairs in the shade. As each bus arrived and finished their tour of the house, everyone came to the patio. As each person arrived they were given a coconut with a straw punched through to be able to drink the water inside. Janet was able to avoid this but David had his second coconut of the day. After most of the groups had
completed their tours of the house, the floorshow began. It was a Kava Ceremony which is a traditional welcoming of visitors to their “island family”. There were quite a few songs sung in the Samoan language and quite a few ceremonial dances. Then they selected about 6 people to taste the Kava drink – to decline would have been a huge insult. All 6 people repeated the appropriate toast and drank their glass of the special drink – we were just as glad not to have been honored to try the drink.
After the ceremony was over we all found our appropriate tour buses and drove back to the ship. We went on board and had a delayed lunch in the International Café about 2:30. After lunch we returned to the cabin and the TV said the temperature had only gone up to 88 degrees. Thankfully the breeze had been refreshing during the tour of the museum and the ceremony, but we are fairly sure it was warmer than 88. Anyway, Janet went to the cabin and David returned to the pier to look around some of the shops which were available near the gangway. Back on the ship
again, David got us a couple of sodas from the bar and we settled down about 4:00 to rest for the remainder of the afternoon.
At 5:00 we went to the dining room. Tonight Janet had the Country Chicken dinner and David had Short Ribs. We have gotten pretty blasé about the appetizers and desserts, but rest assured that we are still having all the courses with our meals and associated drinks. At 7:00 was a show by the ship’s Singers & Dancers called British Invasion. We have seen it before on other cruises and it had been good. This wasn’t quite the way we remembered it, but it was good. They had a little glitch when Passenger Services made a ship-wide announcement and that automatically overrides any microphones throughout the ship – including the theater. After the show we returned to the cabin. David went down to the Internet Café to get a good connection for sending the blog nd heard the piano/violin duo playing, so he stayed there a little while before returning to the cabin for the rest of the evening.
There were a lot of pictures taken today but you will have to wait
for us to have a chance to review them and insert some at a later date.
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