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Apia, Upolu Island, Western Samoa, September 4-12, 2006   by Dagmar

Talofa Lava! Welcome to Samoa. That's really how we felt about this island. When we entered the harbor, we heard music, saw people lining up on the main street, men wearing colorful "lava-lava",  (pareos/sarongs), women knee-length skirts. Even the two guys from the quarantine department checking our boat were wearing lava-lavas. We were just in time for a flower- and dance festival, that would last the whole week, the "Teuila Festival", honoring the Samoan red ginger flower. There were canoe-races in the bay, with canoes of a length we haven't seen before. Have a look at the pictures...50 men rowing, its unbelievable. The guy sitting in the front was playing a drum, heating up the rowers, the guy in the back was steering and dancing in the same rhythm.  

We could watch the local women and men doing arts and crafts, basket weaving, printing fabric and tapa, sculpturing, carvings...That is really me, as I am collecting wooden carvings from all the places we have been. Already amazed by the carvers in the Marquesas, I was really impressed about the Samoan creativity for carving wooden bowls, clubs, music instruments, drums.... For all this excellent work they were doing, it was amazing how affordable they were selling it. 

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Our friends Sandy and Joan from the 'Zeferin" were in the bay, too. They were having family on board with their grandchildren, Sophie, Soleils age and Dominic, 9 years. Soleil got a really close friend to Sophie. And Soleil and I were having once more the chance to get more experience in making Sushi and Sashimi. The next days we were going out for dinner together and to the beach at Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve as well as to the sliding rock at Papasee'a. 

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The locals here were showing a lot of pride about their culture. In the evenings they were playing music, singing and dancing. So we had a lot of opportunities to see this spectacular Samoan dance performances called "fiafia".


The Samoan culture is fascinating and the "faa Samoa" ( Samoan way of life) is still very much in existence untouched from the rest of the world. The Aiga (extended family) stays close and loyal within the village and the Matais (chiefs) are well respected and honored. A village council of all Matai along with the Alii (high chief) and a Tulafale (talking chief) make the laws for each village. The women's committees have a big say in village affairs. Houses or fales in Samoa are very important and the design and construction are unique to faa Samoa. They are usually round or oval in shape with a high thatched roof supported by wooden posts. Generally they do not have walls to allow a good flow of air, but in the event of rain and for privacy woven blinds can be rolled down. 

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So we decided on Saturday to take a local bus at 11am to get to the Southeast of the island, 2 hours drive, to Lalomanu to have a closer look at Samoan life in the villages. 

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What we didn't know, that we had taken the last bus of the day, no return possible. But we found out that this was our chance to spend the night in a beach fale and to experience the Samoan life very closely. We had a wonderful lobster dinner and slept great in this small hut under the mosquito net right on the beach. We were even able to see another "fiafia", with a fire dance at the end. The breakfast was the best we had in months...papaya, eggs, muffins, little cakes, toast, ham..... what a feast.


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