Upolu Island, Samoa, Anna Pollock,

Sunday Outing – Samoan Style

Sunday is still a special, different day in the Samoan week. All commercial activity ceases and Samoans focus on family, church, relaxation and feasting. Church attendance is likely one of the highest in the Christian world and visitors are encouraged and welcomed to attend – if properly attired – any one of hundreds of church services that take place at least three times a day. Virtually every Christian denomination is represented. You may not understand the sermon – as most services are conducted in Samoan – but you will understand and be moved by both the singing, the enthusiastic but understated devotion, the warm welcome and the appearance of the congregation. Sunday is also the day to wear your best dress, hat or lava lava or simply be decked out in pure white.

Children in a Samoan Church (Source: http://www.samoa.travel)

The time after church is spent in family gatherings as everyone catches up on the past week’s activities. Many families will then share a Too’nai – Sunday lunch Samoan style that may have been prepared in an open oven of heated rocks – the Umu. (For more about this delightful custom, please read more about Fa’a Samoa here.)After much feasting, and in the heat of the day, Samoans do the sensible thing and retire for a nap!  This also makes it a perfect time to slowly savour Samoa’s scenic delights as the roads are virtually empty from about 1:0pm to 4:0pm.

And that’s exactly what I did this past Sunday. Casually over a brunch, my host Francois Martel, CEO of Polynesian Xplorer, announced that it was perfect day to visit one of the least explored, most beautiful and remotest parts of Upolu Island – the Fagaloa Bay, then east to the last village at the end of  the road: Uafato (well at the end of a very bumpy track, to be more accurate). We were priviledged to have Francois as our guide – as former founder of Conservation International in the South Pacific who had pioneered much conservation work on the island in the 1990s, he knew the area very well and our sturdy four wheel drive truck was essential for the last 10 kilometers.(PS – don’t try it yourself in a lightweight rental car – call Polynesian Xplorer first!)

And I got to ride in the back of a pick-up truck for the first time! It provided uninterrupted views of some of the most lush, stunning and diverse scenery you could imagine – beaches with white or black sand; tidy villages with their immaculate gardens a riot of colour; plantations of banana, coconut, breadfruit; and the wildness of a tropical forest that drapes towering hills. It’s this diversity of landscape that captivates. Most of the tourism brochures tend to focus on Samoa’s beaches which are as gorgeous as presented in the glossies. So the addition of stunning skyscapes, mountain ranges, well tended gardens, pastureland and tropical forest provide an unexpected and delightful sensory bonus.

As they say that a picture’s worth a thousand words so you be the judge! These pictures were literally snapped from the back of a pick-up truck and have not been doctored in anyway. If you aren’t salivating with anticipation of including Samoa on your travel bucket list, then you likely need help!

Oh and by the way – the village at the end of the road is just 90 minutes from the clocktower in Apia! The end of the paved road is just an hour away. So travel slowly and take a picnic and, whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!  PS Videos will follow shortly!

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About xplorer

Strategist, change agent, thinker, and as often as possible a heretic. My passion helping others "make sense of their world" then find ways of working collaboratively to make it a better place in which to flourish.

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