Travel Diary: New Years in Samoa

Jan 5, 2018Lifestyle, Travel

Adulting is hard. I only got Christmas Day and New Years Day off, and I sorely miss the days when winter holidays meant 3 weeks of vacation. So to maximize the feel of vacation this time around, I started my New Year 2018 with…

A trip to Samoa

It was really my day 24 advent Christmas gift to Ian. Booked our tickets and planned it with our friends, Paolo and Mareike. It would be a surf trip for the boys, and a girls trip for the ladies.

30 DEC 2017

ARRIVING IN SAMOA

Landed at Fagali’i Airport and met up with Mareike and Paolo who were already there waiting for us. There’s nothing quite like seeing familiar faces when you’re traveling. We filled up on brunch at Home Cafè, topped up the gas on the Rav4 rental, and headed for the eastern coast to scout waves and find a beach fale to stay the night. We kept driving south until we found a spot that met our basic needs. A cheap beach fale accommodation called Sina PJs and nearby, waves for days.

High five brotha man!

The air was warm wet and completely still… great conditions for surf. The spot was called Salas (or Jaws – I’m not sure which is which). Ian and Paolo started paddling out from the beach and got lucky. A boat came out to pick them up and took them right up to the waves. A couple of hours later the tide receded into the evening and they stayed out just a little longer hoping for more waves. They were grinning ear to ear when they got back, even after the long paddle in, talking stories of getting tubed.

We grabbed a few beers at the shanty store down the road and hung out at the fale reading and swatting at mosquitoes. The book I’m reading is called “Jaguars Ripped My Flesh: Adventure is a Risky Business” by Tim Cahill, a founding editor of Outside Magazine. It seemed like an appropriate title for the trip.

Our hosts made us a delicious curry dinner which I devoured. Mareike wasn’t feeling too great, so the boys made another run to the store to pick up good ol’ Pepto Bismol. And we called it a night.

Remember that rainbow earlier on? It tricked us a little because later in the evening, the clouds got darker and we saw streaks of lightning in the cumulonimbus in the distance.

It rained hard that night, and our thatched roofs must have not been in use for a while because we woke up in the middle of the night to water droplets leaking all over. We had to move our mats and mosquito net to find a dry patch, and lightning and thunder were going off like crazy less than a mile away. It was a quite a wake up call. So needless to say we were pretty restless and slept in the next morning.

31 dec 2017

NEW YEARS EVE

We woke up slow and enjoyed an egg on toast and koko rice breakfast from our hosts. It was New Years Eve so we decided to settle in at Matareva Beach Fales to ring in the New Year. The place was likely named after the fictional island of Matareva from the 1953 Return to Paradise film (my favorite oldie movie!!!). We swam and played cards. Drank piña coladas. The bartender convinced the guys to paddle out in the waves right there at Matareva. It was a short paddle but wasn’t that good since it was onshore and kept closing out before anyone could even take off on one. The name ‘Boneyard’ is suitable. The guys were bummed but being the awesome girlfriends that Mareike and I are, we fired their stoke and pushed them to try again back at Salas/Jaws which was a 20 minute drive away, and you’ll be happy to know it was worth it. The guys surfed until their arms gave out and Mareike and I went over to Coconuts for a little girl time and fancy drinks. The Tokelau Teaser drink was the perfect cool down.

Teaching them how to play Sweepie

We got back to Matareva just in time for a late dinner and I stuffed my face silly. Then the night began. It was New Years Eve after all. The host family invited their extended family and put on a traditional Fiafia Night, full of siva ma le pese.  My favorite was the siva afi, or fire dancing. They prefaced the performance with a lesson on making fires in a dried coconut husk, and explained how important it was for them to pass down this knowledge to their children. And then a little boy about 8 years old came out and gave a show stopping performance. It was so cool.

This kid’s face takes the cake!

The older guy shows the kid how it’s done, blue flames and all

who did it better?

BOY vs MAN

The night closed off on a very grateful note. We gathered together in a “Circle of Love” and went around saying a few words to reflect back on the year and thank our hosts Tavita and Fia for their Samoan hospitality. And before we knew it, it was 10 seconds on the countdown! HAPPY NEW YEAR! We cheered, kissed and greeted each other. The moon was full and all were in good spirits. It was a good way to end the day. I took my first shower of 2018 and crawled under the mosquito net in our beach fale, and had the best sleep I’ve had in recent memory.

1 jan 2018

A CHILL NEW DAY / NEW YEAR

In the morning, music was blaring from an aiga bus that arrived chock full of day visitors. I was already awake, reading in bed while Ian snoozed on. We headed to the main fale for breakfast and played several rounds of cards. We decided that Matareva is the new Taufua so we were staying another night. The only problem was that with so many day visitors they planned to rent out the fales for the day, so we decided to pack our stuff back into the car and venture out for the day until the tide came in. 

Taking photos while Ian is passed out sleeping

Me – hanging out in the fale before breakfast

We barely spent any money except on our accommodations and a few Vailimas, so we went on a little spending spree (not really) and chowed down on some good food and ginger mojitos at Sinalei. We realized we were actually low on cash and were relieved to find out that Matareva accepted credit cards. There were no ATMs on Upolu south so this was really great news. We toasted – manuia– to good company and proceeded down to the pier. I’m not a big ‘jumper’ so I hung back (also because my bikini was back at the car; read as ‘excuse’) for a bit while everyone else kawabunga’d off over and over. We all read and napped for a bit and Ian finally got me to get up and jump off. I saw a video of myself jumping, and not gonna lie, I look like my 2 year old nephew does when he jumps into the pool. Kinda stoked but kinda terrified, hahah.

The tide was coming in so we went over to Coconuts next door and got chased out of the pool since we weren’t technically guests. Ian and Paolo went back to Salas/Jaws (can someone please clarify what the name is?!) and Mareike and I relished in another round of fancy drinks – no straw please. Tokelau Teaser again for me and Tahiti Tickler for Mareike. It’s so fun to gab about our lives over these pretty names for drinks. We lost track of time, and surprisingly the guys came back a little early. We drove back to Matareva, took photos on the beach with new friends, enjoyed dinner… and what did we do the rest of the night? We played cards like we hadn’t been playing all weekend long.

These taro fries were killaaaa

The smiling lady at the Coconuts bar. I was mostly eyeing the bananas.

New Year dips and kisses

^ Always a good idea to get jumpin’
And little Bill being the diva/rockstar he is >

2 JAN 2018

LAST DAY OF VACATION

I woke up way too early. My alarm went off at 5am thinking it was a work day. Not yet. It’s our last day of vacation before we’re back to the grind tomorrow. But I didn’t go back to sleep. I meditated in the Samoan sunrise. Journaled for half an hour in the hammock under the coconut trees. And read while Ian snoozed on till breakfast. We settled our bill, packed the car back up for the last time, and said our ‘not goodbye, but see you laters’ to our hosts Tavita, Fia, and the boys Tom, Walter and Bill. On the way out, we took some film photos as souvenirs.

After about an hour of driving, we were back in town. We wanted to stop by the market and visit a couple of shops, but everything was closed. Apparently, lucky Samoa gets Jan 2 off. Only The Edge by the marina was open so we chilled out there, ordered lattes, lunch and milkshakes, and played sweepie for the last couple hours of our trip. Then it was back to the airport, crossed the international date line, and we were back at January 1 in American Samoa. Home sweet home.

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