This post is a translation from Maru's original post in Spanish.
After a four-hour flight and without realizing it, I have gone from having to bundle up with a jacket, hat, gloves, and good boots to step on the ice of the New Zealand glaciers, to being in the tropics with suffocating heat and beaches of pure white sand that invite you to swim. Or, at least, to lie down in the shade of a coconut tree.
Landing in Apia, Samoa
I have just landed in Apia, the capital of Samoa on the island of Upolu, in the heart of Polynesia, a corner of the globe that I have been eager to see for years. It's quite a journey from Spain, but once you travel to New Zealand this small and independent country is, let's say, a stone's throw away.
From the airport to the center, the exuberant vegetation of coconut palms, papayas, banana trees continue to amaze me. But, above all, I am impressed by the imposing Breadfruit trees, with their large, green, and round fruits, and the Taro plants with enormous leaves and a tuber that, together with the Breadfruit, form the basis of the Samoan diet.
As soon as I arrive at my hotel I put on my flip-flops, dress in the most summery clothes I have, and after tasting an Oka – a traditional dish of raw fish marinated with lemon, coconut milk, chilli and onions – I head to my first destination: Vailima, Robert Louis Stevenson's home-museum.
I am taking one of the fun local buses decorated with eye-catching drawings, with the music blasting, the seats lined with fur as furry as it is fake, and endless Christmas decorations. We are here in December!
After arriving at the museum we continue on foot. After crossing the access gate, a narrow path shaded by infinite flowers leads to the beautiful mansion that the author himself had built here when he saw that the Samoan climate was better than that of his native Scotland for his delicate lungs.
Behind its long balcony hide large rooms with very little furniture, but there is no shortage of libraries (with works by the famous author himself) or fireplaces, and a piano, undoubtedly essential in the writer's country of origin, but which seem "not very useful" in this corner of the hot tropics.
A few meters from the house, a steep path, barely surviving amid the overwhelming greenery, is the climb to Mount Vea.
At the top, with spectacular views and protected by armies of threatening mosquitoes, is the tomb of Tusitala (storyteller), as Robert Louis Stevenson was known as by the locals. Who died in 1894, just four years after moving to the island.
The next day I say goodbye to Upolu, the main island where the capital is located, and go cross the Apolima Strait to reach the other large Samoan island, Savaii.
On the ferry, which takes an hour, I hear Spanish spoken. It is a young woman with a plump complexion like many Polynesians, who works in Honduras for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – one of the many religions present in this very spiritual island society.
She is going to meet with her large family of about two hundred to celebrate the eightieth birthday of her grandfather. Relatives are arriving from various parts of Samoa. Including her parents, her sister and her cousins, who work, respectively, in the United States, New Zealand and Australia, and improve, like many other Samoans living abroad, the modest national economy.
In Savaii I chose very simple, but great accommodation. It is a fale or typical Samoan house. A small hut without walls and only protected from the wind, rain, or the gaze of others by curtains made of palm leaves that can be lowered or raised at will.
Its location is idyllic: barely three meters from the seashore, its pillars resting on a mound of white sand that stands out against the perfect blue of the water, and framed by two tiny banana trees. A mattress and a mosquito net are the only furniture, but oh this is heaven!
And perhaps, because working in this environment should be considered a sin, all staff are taking naps. But I can't waste time. I want to know and see everything so I look for a bus to tour the island.
Oh, surprise! All public transport stops operating every day at 2pm in the afternoon, so my only option is to rent a bicycle. I pay in talas, the local currency, whose bills are some of the most colourful I have ever seen.
Drawn first by the sweat of pedalling under the humid tropical heat and then by an intense tropical downpour, I soak even more in a solitary pool of transparent waters and under a beautiful waterfall. I continue towards the neighboring town.
It is Sunday, and between the green of the vegetation that lines the road, the black of the impressive lava soil that covers much of this volcanic territory, the pristine white of the clothes and hats of the faithful who walk to mass rehearsing their melodious songs, is a sight that will be with me always.
I head south to the Alofaaga Blowholes, which thunder when the tide is at its zenith as they hurl water high up through blow-holes hidden in the black floor of petrified lava.
Here, contemplating the immense Pacific, I say goodbye to this enchanting territory. I know Stevenson wrote his Treasure Island several years before coming here, but never mind, for me Samoa is a true island treasure.
How to get there: The best way to visit Samoa is to take advantage of a trip to New Zealand or Australia, from where there are usually flights and packages at a great price. NOTE: At this time, due to the pandemic, there are many services that are not operational.
The dry season, that is between May and October.
Tanu Beach Fales
North Coast Rd.
An extremely simple and equally inexpensive accommodation, I chose it because I wanted to experience a stay in an authentic fale constructed in the purest traditional style, and because of its location right on the seashore.
Of course, both in Savaii and on the main island, Upolu, there are options for different tastes and budgets, including luxury hotels and resorts or other fales that mimic vernacular architecture, but with added amenities like a built-in bathroom.
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