Posted by: monsonmadness | January 3, 2012

Fools on the ferry, wild pigs, and white sandy beaches

Day 1 – Mon 26th December

We woke up early on Boxing day to leave for our much anticipated vacation to Samoa. The kids were hyper…the main reason? They knew they were all getting a window seat on the plane! There had been plenty of fighting when we flew down to American Samoa about who got the window seat, but on this trip, it wouldn’t be a problem because everyone got a window seat. The small 16 passenger plane has 8 seat on each side of the plane  with great views for everyone. The kids were a little nervous when all the cold air started funneling into the plane, but when they realized it wasn’t a danger, their fear changed to excitement and they tried to swallow it and other things that kids (and grown up men) think is hilarious!

We had been late setting off on our flight because the co-pilot had a Christmas day hangover and showed up an hour late. It doesn’t take long to collect your luggage when there are so few passengers, and since we had paid for half the plane, the airline staff were very courteous to us and our luggage was right there. I was so happy when we walked out of the airport to see someone standing with my name on a board, just like in the movies! I’ve always wanted that! It was our rental car. That was a huge relief because I had visions of our large family being stranded at the airport.

Since they drive on the left in Samoa, I was to be the designated driver, and it turns out, I would be driving a very large vehicle that resembled a bus (we did get flagged down a couple of times by locals who thought we were, in fact, a bus). The vehicle was called a Bongo Friendee. I thought that was a cool name. We could barely fit all of our luggage in the car, but we just about managed it, and we thrilled to have everyone strapped in and ready to set off on our journey.

We arrived at the ferry port only 5 minutes early because of our late arrival, but we had made the booking and were safe. Everything was pretty slick apart from a psycho movie with nice looking ladies shooting people with machine guns playing for all the kids to see. Then, the sea sickness started…me and Hannah were first, followed by Benjamin. Yuck. Finally the sailing was over and disembarking instructions were given in Samoan over the loud speaker. We followed the crowd and lined up on the outside of the boat. The way that we had come in from parking the car was still locked, so we just waited with everyone else. A long time later, some very angry Samoans came shouting at the dumb palagis (us) whose car was the only vehicle left on the ferry. Apparently we were not supposed to go back the same way we had come in, we should have gone another way and already been off the boat by now. We had been waiting with the foot passengers and we were the laughing stock of the boat. Lots of people made rude comments as we walked down to get our lonely car off the boat. This was our first of many experiences with some not so friendly Samoans!

We were finally in Savaii and ready to start our vacation. Our resort was a 45 minute drive away, but it seemed shorter because there was so much to see (in comparison to American Samoa). The first thing that the kids saw were horses! They were everywhere, they started to count them and it was fun at first, but then I told them they needed to stop when they got to 30. They got to 30 in about 5 minutes. Next, we started to count the wild pigs. Again, we stopped at 30 after only about 3 or 4 minutes this time. After that it was roosters, and then cows. You have to remember that we don’t have animals in American Samoa, only hundreds of dogs, and there were very few dogs here in Savaii (which is why I still can’t believe one was able to find it’s way underneath my car tires). We did see one really looking mangy dog at the ferry port though, very sad.

As we drove, we discovered true Samoa. This was the place that you all thought we were moving to! This was the place with the white sandy beaches with the palm trees and the clear blue ocean. This was truly the most beautiful place that we had ever seen. BUT…it was true Samoa, and on the other side of the road from those gorgeous sandy beaches were the naked children, “homes” that were nothing more than fales, just a wooden floor with a roof, no electricity, no water…some had toilets close by, some had pipes close by that they used for showers. This was the worst poverty we had seen since moving down here. We didn’t really take pictures of this, it was the same as the photos of the Christmas project recipients except whole villages lived in this poverty. There weren’t sporadic houses like there are in American Samoa, and most people in American Samoa do have electricity and water. We discovered that there were no grocery stores in Savaii. There were a few little shops on the side of the road where we could buy bread (if we got there at the right time), water, and chips, but no fresh food at all. At first the kids were happy with “crisp butties” every day, they are my children after all, but we started to crave real food, and found it a challenge staying here. No wonder so many Samoans have health problems.

Our hotel was amazing. Most guests stay in beach fales, but I had found this place because it had an older apartment underneath where the owners live and they let us stay there. It was a 2 bedroom place, but they allowed us to bring our whole family and even brought in extra beds for us. It was a perfect place to stay. The hotel had a restaurant but it was quite expensive. We ate there the first night, and then used their room service to supplement our ramen noodles on other nights! Breakfast was included, and lunch was crisp butties every day!

The kids were over the moon with the beautiful swimming pool and the white sandy beach. This really was a PERFECT place for a vacation. The real adventures would start the next day…


  1. I don’t think I’d mind crisp butties everyday! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  2. What a memorable experience! Looking forward to hear about tomorrow.

  3. Hi can you please tell me the name of the hotel where you stayed? Thank you!

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