That's Samoan for 'Welcome'. And, literally, Samoa gave us a warm welcome. If not a hot one. Stepping out of the plane, equipped with sweaters, long pants and proper shoes, we were greeted by 30°C and high humidity. We loved it! Escaping the New Zealand winter this was exactly what we were looking for.
After picking up our luggage while being entertained by a 3-man band and their pacific rhythms we went to Apia, the capitol. We strolled around the city and went to a food market. World-class fruit! Bananas, coconut, papaya...you name it! And taro everywhere. Taro is a root and THE ingredient in Samoan food. We tried taro chips and taro leads wrapped around a coconut milk/salt mix. Sipping this foreign dish we noticed some locals laughing at us. They then told us that the dish is supposed to be a side dish and not eaten individually. The fallout of doing so is...some aggravated digestion. But let's not get into details.
Samoa International Airport :) and in the bus on our way to Apia
My travelmates in front of the Seaside Inn
Tobi is having some taro leaf and coconut cream at the fruit market in Apia
The next day we went to the south eastern part of the main island Upolu. This is the area which was hit hardest by the tsunami last September. The resort we stayed in was totally razed but plenty of volunteers have done a great job in restoring the villages and houses. As you can see on the pictures our beach 'fales' (the houses we stayed in...yup, right on the beach) were newly rebuild and others still in progress. Nicole, Sheldon and I got a fale which, let's say, wasn't yet fully finished. It didn't help that it was pouring at night.
Apart from our yet-to-be-finished fale, our stay at the FaoFao beach fales was awesome. Auva'a and his family took good care of us and delighted us with traditional Samoan food and a dancing show.
The whole village is invited when Samoans celebrate a wedding
FaoFao Beach fales
Our backyard :) and Nicole's, Sheldon's and my fale for the first night
Sheldon's having a good time at the beach
Auva'a introduces us to Samoan delicacies
Traditional Samoan dances (all Auvaa's family) and firedancing
My mates and a funny local guy ('Come on, take a picture of me!')
Auva'a took us to the To Sua ocean trench, a beautiful place. Climbing down an unsecured ladder (I guess 15 meters...I was scared to death and shaking all the way down, Sheldon had to give me instructions on where to put my foot next as I wasn't able to look down) we swam in the trench and into a cave. The others enjoyed risking their lives by jumping from the ladder while I was trying my best not to black out while climbing up again.
Katrin jumping down and Tobi on the death-ladder
After two days we left FaoFao to explore other parts of the island. Martini (yes, that's his name), our personal driver, took us to sliding rocks and a waterfall.
Sliding rocks and waterfall and beautiful flowers with even more beautiful Katrin
Upolu was great but the best part was still ahead of us: Savai'i, the second Island.
Savai'i was all about beaches. We spent our first day at Jolene's Beach fales. Jolene and her family must be the sweetest people ever as they especially brought us their flatscreen TV from their daughter's home so that Tobi and I could watch Germany playing against Ghana :)
We didn't do anything but enjoying our sweet life..beach, sun, reading, snorkeling, kayaking, eating...you name it.
Bananas at Jolene's Beach fales and the view out of our fale
Sunrise at Jolene's Beach fales
Sheldon's enjoying a coconut at Regina's resort, me the sunrise and Katrin a book :)
For anyone closeby, I fully recommend Samoa. The islands are beautiful and people nice and friendly and absolutely satisfied with their slow paced life...
Here are some more photos for you to click through, I think you can enlarge them by clicking on them. Enjoy!
At FaoFao with Auva'a and a blue jellyfish
You gotta love them crabs
Bonfire at FaoFao and yet another sunrise
'Meeting' the locals
At another resort where I stepped into a coral and Sheldon and Tobi had to perform a surgery on my foot