Apia

A month in Samoa

Hi! In January of this hallowed Twenty Twelve I spent 4 weeks in the humble, humid country of Samoa. We spent most weekday mornings at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital, Samoa’s main hospital. The rest of our time was divided between visiting the markets, cooking curries for dinner, riding utes and vans and taxis to so many beautiful beaches and waterfalls, taking a ferry to Savai’i island, dancing on a rockin’ boat, eating at the only Chinese restaurant in town, singing, and sneaking into resorts for some poolside lazing.

Samoans are known for their relaxed way of life, their strong family bonds, and their friendliness. Every time I got into a taxi, the driver asked me enough questions to find out where I was born, how old I was when I moved to Australia, what I studied and how many siblings I had. People smile and nod on the street. Whole families camp out next to the hospital bed of their sick relative. The whole town shuts down on a Sunday–you can’t exchange money, top up your sim card, or even visit a bank. It was bizarre and refreshing.

I learnt so many things from Samoa, medical and non-medical. My skin discovered a new dimension of blackness. I was inspired by the internal medicine doctors. I was forced to slaughter cockroaches (equipped with a thong, a can of Mortein, and wads of toilet paper…with large quantities of screaming, trembling and wailing). I survived some of the worst gastro I’ve ever experienced. And I was able to glimpse a very different way of life: a people who’ve never known any other way to spend their Sunday afternoons than sitting in the grass, watching the odd car pass through their quiet village. Bet they’ve never heard of Mark Zuckerberg…and they’re better off for it.

^ Traditional-style Samoan huts, known as fale–open to the air on all sides, but with curtains that you can pull down.

^ Veggie market. They had weird-shaped lettuce!

To Sua Ocean Trench: climb down the ladder and swim in the brilliant saltwater pool that shifts with the tides!

^ Lalomanu Beach. Postcard perfect beauty.

^ You can’t visit Samoa without watching a fafafine (ladyboy) show. Classic!

^ Getting lost in the wilderness on Savai’i island. I think we were trying to find a dormant volcano. We never found it.

^ One of the famous pork buns sold at the hospital. Pretty similar to the Chinese BBQ pork bun, and almost as tasty. I hope it wasn’t this that gave me gastro. In hindsight, it looks a bit dodge.

^ Even in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I am a lady.

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