Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Day of Sailing

Western Samoa celebrates independence day on June 1.  Businesses are closed, parties are held (3 days of them), umu cooking is at it's finest.  Our office was closed and we heard that there was free sailing experiences at the Yacht Club.

 Free and sailing in the same sentence holds intrigue for Theron, so off we go.  The members of the Yacht Club sail small laser boats and small catamarans.  On Independence Day, they offered their boats to the public and will take anyone on a ride around the harbor.  Most of these boats were sailed by teenagers.  I had a glorious time watching these young people retrieve their boats, help an adult into the hull, tell them to watch their heads as they tacked the sail from side to side and pulled the sail tight to speed away.

It really did look like fun, but I just couldn't bring myself to step onto the catamaran as the waves lapped up and over the hull.  It was quite windy that day; a great day for sailing.  Theron on the other hand was up for the challenge and had a wonderful experience.

Check - sailing in Apia Harbor! Done.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Last Days of Adrian and Todds Samoan Adventure

What do you do when you've toured two islands, hit all the high spots,  and shopped for all of the things you need to take home?
You start over and go back to sand dollar beach and Palolo Deep one last time. You watch your parents teach a technology class to the Upolu North Stake Presidency and technology specialists and you offer the prayers as requested by the Stake President.

You pack your suitcase and collect all the stuff mom and dad need to send home.  You cry because you have to say goodbye to the garden and return to the lone and dreary world.  (Ask Adrian about that one.)

Then mom cries because she doesn't want you to go.  It has been such a joy to have family here to visit.  We don't feel so forgotten and we are now more homesick than ever!

Unfortunately, the airplane tickets say Thursday, May 26, 11:00 a.m.; an 8-hour layover in Fiji and then LA.  LA to SLC arriving on Thursday, May 26.  They made it home safely, hugged Cameron and Taylor, and look at the thousands of pictures they took.  The best part of any vacation are the memories.

Todd and Adrian - Thank you so much for the memories!!!!!!!!!!!

Adrian and Todd back in Upolu - Sauniatu

The Monday of the last week of Adrian and Todd's visit was spent looking over LDS Church sites - the Fagalii Cemetery and Sauniatu.

The Fagalii Cemetery is where several of the early LDS missionaries, wives, and their children are buried.  The early missionary leaders came with their wives and children.  Many of them had children while they were here, but the survival rate for these children was not very good.  It is a sad thing to read of two or three children from one family being buried here.  Or, the story of a family in which the mother died in childbirth and the little girl was raised by a Samoan nanny until she was a year old.  The father continued to serve as mission president during this time and when the little girl was old enough to travel safely, sent her to the United States will a group of returning elders to be raised by grandparents until the father finished his assignment as mission president.  This is truly faith and endurance through your trials.  We have a presentation on the people buried in this cemetery and will enlighten you when we return.

 We have written in previous blogs about Sauniatu.  This was the place of refuge for early LDS Samoan people.  When a person converted they were most often persecuted by the preacher and village for apostasy.  To escape this persecution, they fled to the mountains of Sauniatu and developed a well-kept village that prospered during these times.

Now that's a tree of papayas!

There is a beautiful fresh water river, waterfall and pool here that is an attraction today.  Todd and Theron went swimming in the waterfall, Adrian and I stayed dry.

We were fortunate to meet President Neria (the Upolu North Stake President) the day we were here.  We had been trying to make contact with him to set up technology training.  He asked us to train on Wednesday so Todd and Adrian got to see the first of our four technology training lessons.  We didn't have a training scheduled while they were here, but were very excited about this one.

Tonight was a relaxing dinner at the Yacht Club where we watched the sun set on the horizon and listened to the waves lap upon the shore under the deck we sat on.  It just doesn't get any better than these evenings.

Sunday in Savaii - Vaiola School and Church

We planned on attending the Vaiola Ward at 11:30 a.m.  Before going to Church though we wanted to show Todd and Adrian the Viola Church School campus.  The setting is beautiful where it is surrounded by mountains with a palm tree lined street leading up to the main buildings.

Adrian loved the weather in Samoa but didn't like the temperature inside the car, so we gave "granny" a towel to wrap up in so the rest of us could have some air-conditioning, but she did look good with a flower in her hair.

Everyone has to hike the Vaiola mountain and experience the scenery from up there.

 Elder and Sister Callahan are missionaries in Vaiola.  She teaches ITEP classes which are BYU Hawaii teacher training courses.  When visiting any of the senior missionaries, we are always asked to solve computer problems.  Glad we had Todd along on this one because we are not Apple experts.

Church was in Samoan, but a lady and her daughter sat behind us and translated for us.

After Sacrament meeting we hurried to the ferry and returned across the great Pacific deep back home to Upolu.

With a tear of sadness, a long look at the horizon, the memory of the beauty of the island, we bid farewell to Savaii.

Savaii - the resort and the turtles

We decided to spend  one, full, relaxing day (Saturday) at the resort on Savaii - it was great snorkeling, sitting on the deck reading a book while it rained and then visiting the Swim With the Turtles adventure.

Every vacation or activity should have some down time; this was our day.  Well, most of us had a down time, Todd snorkeled the entire day.  We had to pry the snorkel out of his mouth to take him over to see the turtles.  So much ocean, so little time!!!

Nui (young coconut) with lunch and then lobster for dinner

The resort had a four man drum line, three played hollowed out logs and the fourth played a large yellow plastic barrel.  Two fire dancers light the Tiki torches on the beach and then perform a traditional fire dance on the grassy peninsula every evening to celebrate the end of another day on the island.  The view of the show and the sunset were great from the warm waters of the endless pool. 
 Adrian's pigs on the beach!
Our two "nautical" children took one of the kayaks out for a spin,  However, the way there were seated in the boat resulted in a lot of spin and little progress when both paddled.  We were too far way from them to try to correct their positions (and we didn't want to attract attention to them) so we just watched them embarrass themselves. 

Savaii is a destination not just a stopping point.  Many people zoom through Apia and head straight for Savaii because there are some great resorts, peaceful retreats and just great beaches.  The Le Lagoto Resort is one of the best on the island.  It has a nice beach, a boat dock, kayaks, an infinity swimming pool, and great fales

One highlight of our Savaii stay was swimming with the turtles.  There is a small resort that has many large sea turtles.  A little girl brings down a papaya and cuts it into chunks so that you can feed it to the turtles.  Adrian and Theron got into the pool and had the turtles swim all around them.  They picked up a couple of the smaller one but the bigger ones were more than anyone wanted to lift, they fed them, they talked to them and one even tried to eat Theron's shirt.  It was fascinating to see them and the various colors of their shells.

 Turtles eat papaya, who knew.  Wonder how they climb the trees?

Can we have any more fun?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Savaii - the blowholes and canopy walk adventures

This is Savaii Day 1 continued.  From the falls, we changed our wet clothes in a broken down fale and drove on to the lava fields and blowholes.

We arrived at the lava fields, we found that Australian Survivor Samoa was filming the blowholes for their opening sequence using a helicopter  - got to find out when this airs and watch it.  So we could had to stay out of their field-of-view for an hour until they were finished.  You'll have to ask Adrian and Todd if the wait was worth it.  Perhaps this short video will give you the answer, also.


From the blowholes to the canopy walk is a half an island away, but the scenery is beautiful and Adrian really enjoyed the pigs! :)  The canopy walk is a man-made structure.  The village designed a cable walk from one huge Banyon tree to another and then cabled together a walking bridge.  Yes, there's some serious sway but it's only a short distance.

When you get to the other side of the canopy walk, you then climb stairs built into and around the trunk of the Banyon tree.  Now this is a serious Swiss Family Robison tree and possible tree house.  The view of the rainforest canopy is magnificent!

Now, off to the Le Lagoto Resort and one day of rest on the beach - these kids are wearing us out (but their tired too).

Monday, June 6, 2016

Savaii with Todd and Adrian

There are multiple islands that make up Samoa but the three main islands are Tutuila (Amercian Samoa), Upolu and Savaii (Western Samoa).  Savaii (say it like Hawaii with a V) is the least advanced and the people primarily farm for a living.  It's also the most beautiful of the islands with tall, tall volcanic mountains in the center and lowlands along the ocean.  Many New Zealanders and Australians vacation in Savaii, just because you can relax and life is just plain quiet and 'islandy'.

From Upolu, you take your car on a one hour ferry ride; then travel the one main around the island.  The ferry is about an hour from our home and they want the vehicles there an hour before sailing time so our 8:00 a.m. ferry ride required us to leave home at 6:00 a.m.  Thank goodness the weather was good and thus the sailing was pleasant.

We had some must do's today because Savaii is much larger than Upolu and we had resort reservations on the far side for that evening.  We had to go to the market first, no other time to shop.  Savaii is where you buy wood carvings and tapa.  Then the Afu Aau waterfall, the lava field blowholes and the rainforest canopy walk.

It was so much fun showing Todd and Adrian all of our modern luxuries and modes of transportation.  They stood most of the way over just looking at the smaller islands and the water.

 Todd looking at the Savaii shoreline.
This is the ferry station in Savaii, the main part of town is in beyond it - that's it folks.

We didn't take time to take pictures of us shopping in the market, maybe before we leave I'll take some.

The drive in Savaii is much more interesting than Upolu.  So many people live in open fales.  They have an umu in the back which is a "cooking fale."

This is indoor/outdoor living at its best.  In the heat, it's air conditioned, in the rain it keeps you dry.

Afu Aau Falls
When we went there last year, we drove right up to the pool.  Since then, there has been a rock slide and now you have to hike to the falls.  This is such a beautiful spot with fresh cool water.  (Theron finally shared the GoPro pictures with me!!!)

From the waters of Afu Aau Falls, we drove to the blow holes which  we'll tell you about on our next blog page.