Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fifth Weekend and a bit of luxury

Our Fifth Weekend
Saturday morning was spent recovering from seeing people off from the airport (up at 1.30 and back to bed at 5.45am), then it was breakfast at Sydney Side Café and shopping for our house (a bottled water machine is a wise move).
Sunday was spent enjoying Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa (an opulent five star resort with ALL the trim).
Unfortunately we were just there for lunch and desert YUM !!!
We both snorkeled the fresh spring pool in the reef at the end of the wharf (F was nipped by a fish on the leg) and fed the myriads of fish. While I snorkeled out over the reef and enjoyed the turtles and walls of plate corals(very speckie), F walked along the beach past the surf school fales to Coconuts Resort ( After another drink and desert, it was time to pay the tab and head back to Apia to prepare for another week.

Pics – Sinalei Sign – the lunch restaurant – the spring pool is at the bottom of the steps on the wharf (looking east) – even the dogs need to cool off (fun toys at Sinalei) – looking west to Coconuts Resort – one of the fish (I think it was this one that bit me, says F)

Our Week= Walk for Life

Our week
We got the keys to our house this week and I have spent lots of time cleaning it top to bottom, there were some maintenance issues outstanding and these are being rectified. Our main problem is that the untreated water supply is from a local spring. This is also a very dry time of year, so they have a tank under the house to get you over the dry times, we are hoping for rain to refresh the spring. Also our house doesn’t have gutters so that is not an option. Just down the road the Apia town supply starts.
Walk for Life
Friday, I participated in a “Walk for Life” in support for a Lifeline counseling service, it was also Hash’s charity earlier in the year with “Music for Life”. I have included a photo of some of the English Medico’s I had met at Hash (We had 17 medicos and about 28 locals on Monday’s run). The Walk was 3 kilometers through town starting at 4.30pm with the Head of State (a spritely 72 year old) leading the way and setting a cracking pace. The PM’s speech was very funny as he had the crowd laughing about 6 times (I initially thought he was a comedian to entertain the crowd, he was so good.) Traffic was at gridlock as over 1000 people walked down the roads in a procession nearly one kilometer long. The worst was into the western sun, the road was HOT and the reflection was sauna strength. The police band accompanied us the last couple of hundred meters and it was a carnival atmosphere as we walked down Clock Tower Road to the Government Building to bottled water, 2 bullocks on the spits and lots of food and entertainment. I was given a free Tee shirt as I raised over 50 tala.
Green Machine
I caught the “Green Machine” bus today, the windscreen had been attacked with a hammer, gave it the roaring 20’s sort of look, so I enclose a pic (NUS – National University of Samoa). The etiquette is you get a seat (wooden- no padded vinyl here), failing this you sit on someone’s knees/lap, next is sitting in the isle, it is impolite to stand (there is no head height anyway). I gave my seat up to a lady with a child, and moved down the bus and squatted until a girl jumped into the lap of the girl next to her to give the “palangie” a seat, I was very appreciative. They are all uni students and are so polite and friendly. I talk to uni students whenever I can and listen to their story and of course they are interested in Australia. As I hope to be teaching some English later, on a voluntary basis, I am interested in their access to computers as resources will have to be on the intranet.
So I am trying to absorb the spirit, feel the pride of the everyday people and immerse myself in Samoa, so different a place to what I have come from.

Pics - Clock Tower (built as a Great War Memorial) with the Government Building in the background, a High School choir as part of the Opening Ceremony, Medico’s on the walk with the Catholic Cross just at the side, The Green Machine (NUS bus), a photo for my grandsons in WA – Grandad drying his hands at a BBQ (Assistant Goffer).

Monday, September 8, 2008

The weekend (No 4)

First three pics ate SW corner, four pics are Return to Paradise Beach, Sa'omana Resort lunch and pool laps, Large yacht in Apia harbour and Binny bus.

The weekend (No. 4)
After finally getting away after noon Saturday (as someone had to go into work) we drove west past the airport and around the western end of the island to the south-west coast. This entailed traversing a new road over a bit of a steep hill. Some of the pics show the view. Then it was on to the main road and we decided to try something different and selected “Return to Paradise Beach” thinking we could eat there as they sign said “Catering and Receptions”, a bit of a mistake! Anyway we had some provisions of crunchy bars, cheese and biscuits. We survived until we got a pizza on the way home. By the way the beach was pretty good, snorkeling was Ok and I found my first anomie fish living in an actual anomie. I also found one on Sunday.
Sunday was a bit of navigation failure, but we got to see such sights as the correctional facility and the dump as we tried to backtrack on yesterday afternoon’s tramp. Anyway after many accusations on who’s stuff-up it was, we made it to Sa’moana (our stamping ground of a fortnight ago). We went for lunch, met all the Aussie crew who run the place (one guy lives 9 houses up the street from us in Coolum), met a couple cruising the Pacific in a 62 foot ketch, had a snorkel and then laps of the pool. We finally left as F had finished her book, it took us over an hour to get home as we stopped to buy two cakes for a sendoff tomorrow (nobody had chocolate lamingtons – DAMM). I washed the vehicle and cooked an omelet for dinner followed by a Scoops icecream cone on our walk to the harbour. There was a very big racing yacht anchored out there (5 spreaders) holding up a very tall rig. Obviously couldn’t get into the marina because of the keel depth.
So that was our weekend.
Shopping in Apia
Shopping – Unlike Aussie where it is usually a one stop shop like Wollies or Coles, here it is different. Shops get there merchandise from America or NZ or Aussie, so I shop in up to 4 or 5 shop to get the things we need. Anything with a sugar or fat load is very popular, diet anything can sometimes be hard to source, especially UHT light milk. We have found a bakery that does the occasional loaf of multigrain bread that we like, so we try often and sometimes score a loaf. If you see something on the shelf you buy lots as it may be months before it is restocked, although this is getting better.
The Bus
Also I catch the local bus from the Uni to town, this one is the Binny Bus, note the handle for his nose, the flashing skulls on the rearview mirror, there is an awesome sound system behind this cloth façade, reggae and rap are popular. They don’t get many “palangie” (white’s) on their buses, so I am a bit of an attraction.
having fun

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hash, Jazz and Fautasi races

Scoop Oars, HASH and Jazz

The second race, this time with scoop blade oars. Also this week was my second Hash run/scrub bash with Apia HHH.(Drinker’s with a running problem.)
Apia Hash House Harriers -

On my first run we had about 25 locals and 20 5th year Medical Students from all over the UK. I got to chat with doctors from Scotland to London, it made my first run an enjoyable one. One thing about Samoa there is always plenty of food and we were able to feed the interlopers, but the keg ran dry by about 8.00pm. The first run was in the suburbs, but the tarmac soon gave way to rocky creek beds, village backyards with pigs and dogs, a fence line next to a golf course, another creek-bed and finally back for a cool coconut juice and Vailima beer. One thing I learnt on this night, never admit to new running shoes, you will regret it if you do.
This week’s run was a different story, along the top of the mountain above Apia. I caught a taxi, but it was defeated by the steep climb and I was passed to a second taxi to complete the mountain trek to the Church of the Three Hearts near the top. The run was along roads, through villages and scrub bashing along trails, only patches of a beautiful view of Apia, unfortunately it was obscured by rain and mist (it keeps you cool). I was wearing my new Hash tee shirt(BRIGHT RED), I though they could identify me if anything ever goes badly amiss, I also carry 20 tala for a taxi home if I really get separated from the pack in the backblocks. We finally made it back for a BYO tucker ( First run of the month), mandatory cool coconuts to drink (I opened my first nut with a very large bowie knife, they are young nuts and have a clear refreshing nectar) and then the keg. The BBQ was finally going after the gas bottle was sorted out and after many down downs of glass mugs we enjoyed the feast, the keg gave out about 8.30 and I got a lift home. Funny thing is, I have never drunk that much beer, most of it was as a BBQ accessory but what the heck, the Vailima stuff has won some awards and you must support the local industry. At least I am getting to know the layout of Apia and up close and personal with some of the locals as we run/walk/stagger through their taro patch.
Tuesday evening was the Teuila Jazz Night at the Hotel Kitano, we had tickets for the show only, (20 tala) and ate in the pool restaurant, love the seafood here, fish and chips for 22 tala. YUM The jazz ensemble was from NZ and they were very good, a thoroughly enjoyable evening and as they said it wasn’t "Country", which is the usual fare here. I was deeply impressed by a rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Killing me softly with his song.”

Scoop oars
I planned to get there an hour early but the race was 90 minutes early, such is life in the Pacific, there is always next year. I did get some pics, the Digicel boat(Green/yellow) had won again. Some pics show the crew change over( a scratch crew took it to the boat ramp), and then the winning crew boarded trucks for victory laps of Apia festooned with their sponsors logo, Digicel (Digital phones). The woman cox/captain was Zita Martel and the boats are called fautasi. Her crew comes from a local Technical College and the race is over about 5 kilometers so it is no sprint event.
Having fun in Samoa

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Some more Pics

One of the Choirs, stalls at the Teuila Festival, a Samoan girl at one of the stalls wnated her photo taken.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Teuila Festival

Thing that we have been doing in the last week:
We both have been snorkeling at the Paloa Deep, F enjoyed her experience swimming with the multi coloured fish and the coral bommies.
I finally got to take F on a tour of the fish market on Saturday morning, we also visited the vegetable market further uptown.

We went to fundraiser Pirate Night at the Yacht Club on Saturday night, some pics to tell the tale.
This week is the Teuila Festival named after a red blossom. It encompasses many activities from choir singing, dance, singing, traditional cooking, jazz, Samoan long boat rowing, markets and activities and a Miss Samoa Pageant. We went to the Hymnal Choirs on Sunday evening, represented were seven choirs from the major religions of Samoa. It started with a youth choir of about 60 and the choirs just got bigger, eighty, one hundred, etc until the last was estimated to be around the 400 mark with a brass section thrown in for effect. The singing was in Samoan and the effect was fantastic, each choir had been practicing for at least a month and they gave their all to the three to four songs they presented. The hall seated over one thousand and we were all given bottled water and a snack box.
Monday morning was the Samoan long boat rowing races. About eight teams competed an approx. 3k row, finishing in Apia harbour. This race was with traditional oars, Thursday’s race will be with scoop oars. I actually missed the finish and only saw the last boats finish. Apparently the lead boat thought they had crossed the line and stopped rowing, to be pipped by another boat coxed by the only woman in all the crews. The chants, war-cry’s and singing were fantastic to hear. There was much raising and lowering of oars to celebrate.