We decided the night before that this day would be a day for exploring. Before we left we took advantage of the 1/2 hour massages we received as part of our honeymoon packages, giving us some peaceful time in beachfront spa fales. We jumped in the car after that and decided to go on the other cross-island road so that we could check out where the ferry terminal and our other Upolu resort were. We passed by many villages on the way to the north coast and it was interesting to see the differences between these and the ones we had seen on the way from the airport.
You’d think on an island that has very few main roads that it would be easy to navigate. In the heat of the day and with rudimentary signage it can be quite confusing! We missed the turn in for the ferry terminal (in hindsight we should have recognized it, but I think I was expecting something more substantial) but didn’t get too far down the road before realizing our error! After a quick stop to check it out, we were on our way to Apia.
We’d thought Apia quite quiet when we came through it on Saturday – it seems this was only because it was a weekend and we were on the outskirts! It was Busy with a capital B on Monday morning! One thing we learnt very quickly is that traffic lights in Apia (the only place in Samoa that we’ve actually seen them) are taken as a guideline. If the light is red but there is no one in your path of driving, you go. Papa M didn’t feel too comfortable with this and I don’t blame him.
We drove out onto the peninsula to see the Samoan government building and stopped there at a restaurant for a fish and chips lunch. I think we had been spoilt with the delicious traditional-inspired food of our resort because I found the food kind of average. The fish was lovely and fresh though, and we managed to get a couple of good pictures of the harbor from the sea wall.
With lunch over, it was back into Apia CBD to tackle a cash machine and a supermarket run. The ATM was relatively easy, the supermarket on the other hand -yeesh. No air conditioning, tons of people and a layout that boggles the mind. One of the things I had forgotten to pack were razors to shave my legs and when we got to the checkout I realized I’d forgotten to look for them. I sent Papa M through the checkout with the rest of our items and went back on the hunt. No luck, but after a sign language and pidgin talk conversation with a shelf stacker I found that they were up at the checkouts, one checkout over from the one Papa M had gone through. They’re the kind of disposable razor that my mum used in the eighties but they set me back 70c each so you get what you pay for. If you need a particular type of something, bring it here – there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find it.
Apia in the early afternoon was hot, dusty (thanks to a lot of cyclone-related detritus) and not very pleasant so we made the decision to head up to Villa Vailima, the Robert Louis Stevenson museum. It was totally the antidote to our Apia experience – a beautiful wooden colonial-style house in lush surroundings. Our helpful tour guide showed us around and then let us explore the house – including the two fireplaces without chimneys Robert Louis Stevenson installed so he could feel at home. It’s pretty sad that he only got to live there for four years before he died.
Our original plan was to head down into Apia for dinner but even just sitting by the harbor was dusty and sticky. We called it a day and headed back across-island for a swim at the resort and we ate dinner there.
Today was to be our last full day at Sinalei so we decided to spend the morning kicking around the resort. After breakfast we headed down to the beach where we’d hesitated a few nights before – crabs aren’t so scary once you can see them! As we walked along, we realized just how lucky we were that the resort was still open. Both the surf camp and other south coast resort were closed due to major damage. When we arrived back we chilled out on a couple of beach recliners before heading up to the resort for lunch.
Fully fed – I had the Island Fries again while Papa M had his first taste of Oka – we changed into our togs and headed off to Piula cave pools. I was soon regretting the large drink I had at lunch – there are very few public toilets in Samoa. Nothing to bring a married couple closer together than a side-of-the-road pit stop. We eventually arrived at Piula Theological College where the pools are located but I think we had underestimated how popular it was with the locals in the middle of summer – it was packed! I’m not a very competent swimmer so I just stuck to the edges – I think it’s the only time I’ve felt truly cold in Samoa though, and that’s a good thing! About ten minutes before the pool was about to close the rain set in, so it was back to the car we went.
On the way back to the resort, we had our first experience filling up at a petrol station. An important thing to note is that they can be very different to New Zealand. There is often a shop in the general vicinity of the petrol station but this is not where you pay your money – there will be a separate office (or just a guy sitting on a chair) for the pumps. 60 tala ($32 NZD) was enough to fill the tank, and it’s nice to have full service at the pump.
Heading back into the resort they were having a big burn off of all the trees and vegetation that the cyclone brought down – we’d estimate that they had lost at least fifty palm trees in the storms. Some hardy tourists were taking photos of the massive bonfires but it was simply too hot for us to want to get that close. Still in our togs, we jumped into the pool and spent the rest of the afternoon there, despite the tropical rainfall that came through. More annoying was that the afternoon’s power outage (we’d have them on and off as the resort post-cyclone was running on generator power) affected the water pump. I’d been relying on late afternoon showers to freshen myself up but definitely did not feel so fresh. With my constantly curly hair & my lack of makeup I definitely had to get used to taking it back to basics!