Apia, Samoa, 3-9-12
Jumping across the International Date Line in the Pacific is always a bit confusing. Are we three hours behind, but tomorrow? Or are we 21 hours ahead? This time, since I left L.A. late at night on the 6th, when we touched down in New Zealand, it was the 8th. It’s interesting, too, that March 7th has a personal significance for me, so to have it just disappear from the calendar—poof, like magic—is ironic. A leisurely 6-hour layover in Auckland airport and another 4-hour flight back to Samoa made for a big, but not brutal, travel day.
Actually, there have already been moments of fun: At LAX, I opted to forgo the body scanner at security (who needs to be toasted like popcorn in a microwave?) and requested the full-body pat-down. Well, I got the trainee and a supervisor, so everything was by the book and thorough. They should really offer you tea and a hot-stone/shiatsu option, as this was one of the best massages I’ve had in a long time. (To answer a question: No, it was not performed by a “hot Scandinavian American Apparel model.”)
Stepping out of the plane at Faleolo airport on Upolu island was a familiar treat. The curtain of hot humid air, redolent of hibiscus and plumeria, hits you like a wave.
The late afternoon drive along the north coast to Apia revealed glimpses of palm fringed coves and turquoise lagoons, while golden-hour rays illuminated the dense coconut fronds, white churches, and pastel houses on the other side of the road. I counted no less than 20 games of rugby being played by barefooted kids in the fields along the 35-kilometer route.
at every turn another South Seas fantasy
Checked into my home-away-from-home for the next six weeks, the Pasefika Inn—fashionably off the main drag and down the block from the scenic harbor. As with all MicroAid accommodations, value trumps luxury.
but views on Pacific islands can be deceptive—from the Pasefika Inn, not as lovely as it appears :0)
At the unmanned front desk, a bored young girl was hanging out, so I asked her if anyone was around. She disappeared and returned with someone who may or may not have been an actual employee, but he gave me a key to a room nonetheless.
I thanked the reticent girl for her help and she proffered a nonchalant smile. When I asked her her name, she told me and asked where I was from. She showed some genuine interest when I told her I was from California, U.S.A., as she was probably expecting “Australia” or “New Zealand.” “Do you know Beyonce, Rihanna, or Chris Brown?” she asked excitedly. Resisting my natural urge to sarcasm, I answered, “no,” whereupon she went back to glumly looking at a travel brochure.
same set up, different country
Talofa and fafetai.
Over the next few days, some meetings and site visits will start the disaster recovery projects.
More from Samoa later.