Monday, January 5, 2009

Savaii (The Big Island)

Savaii Trip
After Christmas lunch at Sinaeli Resort with friends, we packed for our trip to Savaii Island.
On Boxing Day we were up early to catch the 8am vehicle ferry from Mulifanua to Salelologa. The Hilux was already packed and we drove out past the airport to the terminal and joined the queue. There are two ferries, a large one (which we were on) with through deck and air conditioned lounge upstairs, and another basic barge. After a 70 minute crossing we arrived at Salelologa Wharf and drove west to Afu Aau Waterfall for a swim and snorkel, next was climbing the largest stone mound in the Pacific at Pulemelei (Tia Seu) Ancient Mound. Not the track to take after rain with two and a half k of low 4WD, we climbed the mound for a view to the coast. It reminded me of the step pyramids of ancient Yucatan. The Alofaaga Blowholes were our last stop before crashing at our accommodation. The old matai (village elder) who throws coconut husks into the holds has the best job on the island. He laughs throughout the session and charges 20 tala. On big wave days he uses whole coconuts. Most of our pictures have the husks out of frame as they shot up high into the air. After lunch at his beach fale we drove to the northern tip of the island at Fagamalo and our large fale at Le Lagoto resort. ( )
This is the best accommodation on the island with air conditioned fales in luxury mode. The roof was traditional with plait weaving and heavy beams supporting the roof and no internal supports. We went snorkeling off the beach and I went for a double dive with the local dive shop situated across the road. There is the wreck of the Juno - an iron sailing ship that ran up on the reef in 1881 and was deposited into the lagoon after a cyclone some years later. She is in remarkable condition with the bow spit at 22 meters and the stern at 14. You can swim about the trusses and beams and marvel at the fish life. Second dive was closer in on a reef drop off. Fish sighted were a large Maroi Wrasse, cod, turum, a couple of turtles and an electric anemone, anemone fish and so on. We also experienced feeding and swimming with turtles. They loved the paw paw that we saved from our tropical breakfast. F got a huge buzz from this and we went back a second time for more photos. On our drive to the most westerly piece of Samoa at Cape Mulinuu (the place where the souls of the dead pass into the underworld) we stopped at the Dwarves Cave for a caving experience. You enter a hole in the ground and enter an underground lava tube the size of a railway tunnel running at an angle into the ground and finally a flooded section. This is an experience for torches and footware that can get wet. So we enjoyed our getaway on the Big Island – things that impressed us were that there are a lot more bicycles and most of the roads are in better condition as there is less traffic. Everywhere you went over Christmas the villages were trimmed for the surge of family that were visiting. This led to lots of smoke in the weeks before as the hedge trimmings were disposed of.
We avoided the New Year’s crowds for a quiet celebration at home watching TV.
Hope you all had a safe and happy break.

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