Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sauniatu, Samoa

Isolated high in the mountains and nestled in a lush tropical valley is Sauniatu.  We winded up a narrow road and when the road ended it truly looked like we had reached Shangri-la.  It was beautiful!

These two young girls were sitting in the little fale behind the sign and I asked if I could take their picture.  They were very shy, but after a little coaxing (on my part),  and a lot of giggling (on their part), they agreed.

Samoa's system of government is interesting.  Although there is a central government, most of the power rests with the village chiefs called Matai.  Each village chief makes the rules for his own village.  We also learned that if someone were to break the law, it would be the village that would take care of the situation, punish or impose a penalty.  We learned some of the rules of Sauniatu by reading this sign posted as you enter the village.

A group of fales built to honor a Mormon leader, (who later became the worldwide leader and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints),  who visited  Sauniatu and left a blessing on the village many years ago.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Floral Fantasy

We have never stayed at a hotel in a tropical location that had so many floral arrangements scattered around or lush vegetation.  There were huge vases filled with flowers that stood 5-6 feet high in the lobby and decorating the restaurant and pretty much everywhere.  Here are just a few of the snaps I took of flowers at the hotel:

There were lovely wooden bowls with floating floral arrangements sitting on almost every table in the lobby.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food Story

Jeff and I are not very adventurous when it comes to what we eat, and any kind of raw meat is off limits.  We both have managed to avoid this......until now.  Here's the story.  We were sent to Samoa to help organize a conference and the first day we arrived we had a meeting with all the Samoan people who were to work with us as a team to pull it all together.  They expressed their frustration with us about how the organization of this event was going up to that point.  Since this was our first meeting with them,  we wanted to assure them we were there to work, ease feelings and tensions and make sure there was a feeling of cooperation between us all.  At the end of the meeting we took them out to lunch.  When you are away from the workplace, it's amazing how people relax and enjoy each other over food.  Because we did not know what to order, we let them do all the ordering and the first thing that was brought out was large plates of raw tuna.  Jeff and I looked at each other and knew there was no way we could politely refuse and risk offending them.  We both managed not to gag, get sick or do something else embarrassing! Here are a couple other examples of local cuisine:

 Jeff enjoying some sea grapes.

The slimy insides of a sea urchin.  We just couldn't go there!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Samoan Song and Dance

Many of the young men and women employed by the hotel as maids, waiters, etc. are also performers.  Every Wednesday night the hotel puts on a beautiful dinner show with Samoan singing and dancing.

Master of Ceremonies
I wonder how much time was involved in getting these tattoos and if they were done in the traditional way.

There were several dignitaries at the show the night we attended.  This lady I believe, was introduced as the daughter of a former Samoan ruler.  She was invited up on the stage to dance.  Her movements were so graceful and refined.  Her hand movements were especially lovely and reminded me of waves of grain softly blowing in the wind.

The show ended with the fire dance.  There were fire dancers around the pool, up on balconies and on the roof.  It was quite impressive.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Three Lovely Samoan Ladies

These three lovely young ladies work at the hotel where we stayed.  They are very soft spoken, respectful and are always smiling and ready to help.  They work as maids, or servers in the restaurant or in the lobby.  Tomorrow I'll show you what they do on Wednesday night.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Apia, Samoa Temple - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 Apia, Samoa Temple - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Church Buildings in Samoa

 A Religious People

Our host told us there are no atheists in Samoa.  We thought it interesting that on Sunday, the main town of Apia was virtually deserted.  There were no stores or restaurants open, no one walking on the streets, and no cars on the roads.  All were either at worship services or home with family.  
In addition to the three recognized religions, there are others, depending on the village where you live.  It was interesting to see one very large, elaborate church in every small village, surrounded by very humble fales (homes).  There were no stores or business buildings that we could see in the small villages dotting the land where we traveled, so the church was the only large building.  Here are some:  


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Samoan Fale

I just spent about a half hour posting numerous photos with commentary about the unique, and interesting houses or fales, where people of Samoa live.  Trouble is, I accidentally posted them on my other blog!!!  If you want to sneak a peek at why Samoa is different than any of the other islands we have visited thus far, and one of many reasons why I found this culture so fascinating, 'flick' over, (that's a New Zealand word), to Our Kiwi Krossings and see a glimpse of what I saw while traveling in remote Samoa.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Transportation in Samoa

While we were in Samoa we didn't see motorcycles or scooters and only a few bicycles.  What we did see were many taxis and buses, especially between the airport and Apia.  We were told there is no public transportation in Samoa, but many privately owned buses, most of which were very brightly painted and personalized with sayings, pictures, statements, etc.  There were no windows, and all seemed to be jammed packed.  Sure made the roads interesting.
We also saw a fair amount of pick up trucks, usually crammed full of something, often people.  The roads in the villages are busy because most people walk and so the cars, trucks and buses have to share the road with people, and........
pigs, chickens and dogs, all of which are allowed to roam freely.  We were told the pigs know where they live and always return home in the evening to be fed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Samoa Paradise

We said goodbye to beautiful Tahiti, and a few weeks later we were sent to amazing Samoa.  Even though we worked very hard on our assignment, we still managed to do a little sightseeing around this tropical paradise.  Samoa is different than every other Pacific island we have seen thus far.  The people are warm and friendly, their homes and meeting places are unique and colorful, and their villages are vibrant and interesting.  For the next few posts I hope you will enjoy seeing a bit of the eye candy I saw on this last amazing adventure.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Tahitian Pearl

Papeete, Tahiti, (pronounced something like Pa-pee-a-tay), is one of the most confusing cities we have ever tried to navigate in.  While the main road around the island is, for the most part, an easily traveled, enjoyable drive, Papeete, the main city, is unbelievably crowded, confusing and just plain crazy!  The roads are narrow, often one way, and intersect each other at every imaginable angle.  Picture a bowl full of spaghetti! No, that's not right.  Do you remember 'pick up sticks' as a child?  If not, imagine a bunch of chop sticks dumped into a large bowl.  That's what the road system reminds me of in Papeete.  Add to that, probably 90 percent of all cars on the island, are trying to drive there.  And if that isn't bad enough, many people ride scooters and aggressively weave in and out of the heavy car traffic.  What a nightmare! Oh, and the icing on the cake was that we have been driving on the left side of the road for a year, and now we were back to the right side of the road.  Whew!

We discovered this the first time we tried to find the temple.  With no GPS available, and very inadequate maps, and very tiny road signs, and wild drivers, it took us forever, but we finally found our way.  Honestly, it felt like we were on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland!!!  After that experience, we avoided going into town.  Finally, however, we needed to venture back.  

As you know, Tahiti is known for their black pearls, although we were quick to learn that Tahitians do not like their pearls to be labeled as 'black' because they indeed do come in many different and subtle shades of green, turquoise, rose, aqua, blue.  Some friends asked us if we had the chance, could we purchase some loose pearls for them, as we had heard you can buy pearls at a great price if you know where to go.  So one day we set out to find the Tahitian Pearl Market located in the center of Papeete.  We drove down the road we thought would take us there, only to end up in a totally different place than we had anticipated and from where our map showed we should be.  We did this numerous times and always ended up in a different place.  We managed to drive around in circles, (or angles), for a half hour or so with no sense of direction and no luck, and without having an accident, which was a miracle as well. Finally, we were so confused and frustrated we just parked the car, (finding a parking space was the next hurdle), and decided we'd just have to walk the streets asking people along the way.  Of course everyone only spoke French!

After trying to communicate with numerous people about what we were looking for, we finally found the store, located in a small room up a flight of stairs.  The gentleman who helped us spoke excellent English (thank heavens!), and was very interesting and friendly.  He ushered us over to one of about 6 small tables covered with white tablecloths and we sat down.  He talked to us about the history of the pearl market in Tahiti, and about the pearls themselves, how they are graded, how you can tell if they are real or fake, how to know if you are paying a fair price, etc.  He then asked us what grade of pearls we were looking for, etc.  Finally, of course, it comes down to how much money one is willing to spend and do you want to spend that amount for a smaller perfect pearl, or a larger pearl with some flaws. 

When he had an idea of what we were looking for he brought out a box of a hundred pearls or so and just dumped them out on the white tablecloth.  It was quite a sight, and I guess I was too dazzled to think about taking a picture.  He started sorted through them just as I remember kids doing with their collection of marbles, looking for ones that stood out from the rest because of their color or brilliance.  

We found some lovely pearls for our friends and then Jeff brought one for me.  I had it mounted in a simple setting while we waited so that I could wear it with a ring I often wear as a wedding band.  (Side note:  I do have a lovely diamond wedding set that I left at home just because I didn't want to take the chance of losing it or getting it stolen.  Instead I'm wearing a friendship ring Jeff bought me when we were dating over 45 years ago.)

Here is my pearl being mounted in the setting:

     And here is the end result:

I think our not-so-pleasant encounter with Papeete traffic was well worth the effort!  Now when I go home to Utah, and this amazing experience seems like it was just a dream, I'll have a beautiful ring to remind me that I was really here, half way around the world in French Polynesia, experiencing all the beauty of Tahiti and Moorea for myself.  What a blessing!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tahiti Coast

There's a Storm Moving In

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More of Moorea

Have I convinced you that Moorea is amazingly beautiful????

What about now????