Visitors Guide R
The government’s Broadcasting Department has one AM station (Radio 1) and Radio Polynesia has a few FM stations including Magik 98 FM and Talofa FM.
These are inexpensive handy items to pack when heading to the tropics because you will come across reefs and shoes will protect you from coral cuts or other scratches. A good place to try them out is at the Paolo Deep, five minutes walk from the centre of Apia.
The Coat of Arms and Samoan banknotes bear the slogan Fa’avae i le Atua Samoa (Samoa is founded on God) and that pretty much tells the tale. From the moment missionary Rev John Williams landed in 1830 the Samoan people embraced Christianity. They say there are some 200 churches between Apia and the airport (35km) but I am yet to go counting. The main branches of Christianity are Congregationalist, Methodist, Catholic and Mormon. Some villages make it compulsory to attend church on Sundays (up to three times!) as well as weekly choir services. Most Samoans know the hymnbook off by heart. There are also daily prayers (called sa) at 6:00pm. These last about ten minutes and begin and close with a bell or gong. Between gongs visitors should not intrude. Having said that, I’m sure there is no Commandment that says, Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Tourist’s Wife.
There is accommodation to suit all budgets in Samoa and some upscale resorts include Sheraton Aggie Grey’s, Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows, Seabreeze, Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa, Sa’moana Beach Resort and, on Savai’i, Amoa Beach Resort and Le Lagoto. See individual listings for more information.
There is a variety of cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, Italian, European and Samoan) to choose from in cafes, snack bars and restaurants. Rather than list them here, probably better to take this link to Trip Advisor and get reviews from people who have been dining out lately. Hmm… the pork belly at Paddles might have my name on it…
Robert Louis Stevenson
This great Scottish writer spent the last of his young years at Vailima just outside Apia. Famous around the world for his novels (the biggest sellers being Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde), Stevenson is more famous in Samoa for simply being a great man who also happened to be a writer. Even in these early times he was very much anti-European colonization and pro-Samoan independence.
A little background on Stevenson… Don’t for a moment imagine this was a poor writer sitting in the Pacific looking for inspiration. He arrived an extremely wealthy but sickly young man. Samoa was apparently good for his health even though he died young. His father, Thomas Stevenson, was a prosperous lighthouse engineer and the inventor of the marine dynamometer (measures the force of waves). Stevenson was well travelled – he wrote on a walking trip through France that, “I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” He met his future wife in France, an American by the name of Fanny Vandegrift Osbourne. Fanny was ten years his senior and married with two children. Stevenson saw her as “an exotic goddess”. After divorcing her husband, Stevenson joined Fanny in California, where they married.
While his Samoan name was ‘Tusitala’ (‘Teller of Tales’) Stevenson was also a leader, thinker and motivator. His 20 staff members were more family than servants and a visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson residence (formerly the writer’s residence) is a must. Even museum haters will love this one. It’s not just the quirky things like the two fireplaces without chimneys, built to give the Scottish author the atmosphere of his Scottish heritage… or the Californian redwood ceiling to make his American wife, Fanny, feel at home – it is more that you can feel the life and death of RLS.
You can’t help but be moved when your guide, with great affection, relates the story of his burial. 200 mourning Samoans cut a path to the top of Mount Vaea and Robert’s casket was passed from Samoan to Samoan up the ‘Road of the Loving Hearts’ and high into the hill where is buried…
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
It’s a 45-minute walk up the hill to the grave (wear joggers and take water!) and a 25-minute walk back. It’s a poignant and peaceful spot with a panoramic view. Fanny died in America in 1914 and her ashes were later buried with Robert. Her plaque, which bears her Samoan name Aolele (Floating Cloud, perhaps after her restless spirit), also has Stevenson’s words…
Teacher, tender comrade, wife,
A fellow-farer true through life
Heart whole and soul free,
The August Father gave to me.
Rotary has been in Samoa since 1970. Contact PO Box 1007 Apia or email email@example.com.
Rugby is the favourite football game in Samoa, dating back to 1924, and Manu Samoa is an international force. From the haka to the final whistle they play a ferocious running game of rugby exhibiting amazing ball skills. Unfortunately for Samoan supporters they see more losses than wins on the International stage because of the small population and because cream of players have been enticed to play in Australia and New Zealand with lucrative contracts.