Check out our slideshows for new pictures from Suwarrow and Samoa.
Sunday in Samoa is truly a day of rest – nothing is open. Well, almost nothing. In the morning I stopped by the little grocery store that is just a few blocks away from us. They had told me that they would be open until 1 p.m. on Sunday and would be serving food. I did not expect much as it is a store that has very little to sell during the week. When I walked in I couldn’t believe my eyes. They had laid out a buffet table with 10 huge covered serving trays – and were selling the delicious freshly cooked food to the customers. Almost all Samoan families get together every Sunday for huge traditional dinners and this must have been set up for those people who just couldn’t cook all the required food for themselves. There was barbequed taro root, several kinds of chicken, a couple of Chinese type dishes, lamb and pork. It was sold for take-out and we ordered several plates of food – enough for us and some extra for our friends on Yara who are all still sick with the flu and stuck on their boat. Very fun discovery for us and it was delicious. All the internet cafes were closed on Sunday, except one which opened at 6:00 P.M., so after walking to town with the Risho Marus and taking their son Finn to McDonalds, we spent some time catching up on e-mail.
On Monday we all rented a van together to have a tour of the island. It was supposed to be the 3 families – the Sabbatical III’s, Risho Marus and Yaras, but everyone on Yara was still sick, so we had to go without them. We had rented a large 8 person van which we thought was pretty nice until shortly after we left the car rental place. Suddenly we noticed that there were several cockroaches on the floor. We stopped the car and took out all our bags and found that the cockroaches had already gotten into our bags. It was so disgusting and there was really nothing that we could do about it, so we just kept on rolling and making cockroach (or cockalaka as our Austrians call them) jokes. The back seat was just crawling with the disgusting creatures.
Most of the island is sparsely populated and very beautiful. Lots of waterfalls and beautiful beaches – landscapes ranging from rolling hills to steep green volcanic mountains. There are small villages scattered everywhere and each village has at least one church as its centerpiece. The people themselves live in houses called “fales” which are very unusual – they are totally open on all sides – with just a roof, a raised floor and beams and decorated railings holding the structure up.
Apparently it is considered very impolite to look inside a fale – there is an honor system that people observe so that the residents have their privacy even though everything they do is open to the world. Most of the compounds we saw, however, had both a fale and a more modern closed home next to each other, so I think that there must have been adjustments made over the years to give people more privacy and protect them from nosy tourists. They were interesting to see. On our stop at the Sapoaga Waterfall ( the prettiest one we saw) there was also a small botanical garden and a tour guide who was very entertaining – he cut a coconut for us and made fresh coconut milk – so delicious.
Stopped for lunch at a very cute and nice looking restaurant called SeaBreeze . It was nice, but really slow and we were all anxious to get on with our tour.
By 5:00 P.M. we had gone around most of the island and were pretty tired. We stopped at a couple of grocery stores, but found the pickings kind of slim. We were afraid to buy too much anyways as we were sure that the cockroaches would get to them if we left the bags in the car for any amount of time. One more big job was to go back to the boat, grab our 8 jerry cans and Risho Maru’s 2 jerry cans and go back to the gas station to fill up with diesel. We were getting low on diesel for the boat and there is no dock that you can pull your boat up to to fill up, so you have to “jerry jug it”. Not too bad with everyone helping out – including 7 year old Finn.
Today, Monday was a much more low key day. You have to get permission from customs here if you want to buy duty free alcohol, so we decided to do that. It was not too bad at all – we just had to bring a letter to the customs office and come back a few hours later to get the stamped and approved form. Not a big deal since the customs office is right next to the marina. We also did some boat chores, e-mail and other mundane boat tasks. Plan to leave within a few days if the weather is ok. The sail to Tonga is not terribly far ( about a 2 day sail), but it is almost due south and it will be very rough if the wind and waves are from the south – which they often are. We are looking for a good weather window to make the trip easier. Have to get there before Ben does on the 27th!
One more interesting and strange thing about being in this marina. They have “toilet bowl fish” here. We have never seen these before, but other people apparently have in other places. They are smallish fish that live in the harbor and apparently have a keen appetite for whatever comes out of the boat toilet. When you flush you hear a huge flurry of motion and commotion under the boat – which is made by dozens of fish that jockey for position to be first in line under the boat to grab whatever appetizing morsel comes out. Talk about disgusting. We just hope that the fried fish sandwiches we have been eating do not come from local waters! They tell us it is tuna.