Posted by: monsonmadness | January 4, 2012

Threats, machetes, anger, and a few exciting adventures!

Day 3 – Wed 28th Dec

This was the bad day of the trip. Be prepared for some negative writing! We were so excited to drive west along the north coast of Savaii, we had several awesome things that we wanted to see and do, and the storm from yesterday seemed to be over. Our first destination was to Cape Mulinuu. This is Samoa’s most western point and is famous for being the last place in the world where you can watch the sun set each day (guess that place is somewhere in American Samoa now that they moved the date line). Anyway, Michael and I had reminisced about when we went to Cabo de Roca in Portugal which is Europe’s most westerly point, and we thought it would be cool to go to this place as well. It took quite a long time to get out there, and the road disappeared into a palm lined dirt track with gorgeous glimpses of the ocean every few minutes.

When we arrived, there was no one in sight, so we sat in a fale and ate our lunch. Our plan was to play on the beach for a while, take some photographs, and write our names on the black rocks with the white pebbles like many people had done before us! Right when we finished our bread and chips, a man approached us and said that we had to pay him 120 tala ($60) to be there. We had researched all of our destinations online and we knew which ones we were supposed to pay for, and which ones were free, so we knew we were being taken advantage of, and just said that we would get up and leave. He got really mad, and said that we had parked our car, eaten in the fale, and that we needed to pay. We hadn’t even gone onto the beach or had any fun yet, but we wanted to be out of there. I tried to get the kids into the car, and he got onto his cell phone to call his “boss” to shut down the road so that we couldn’t get out until we paid. It was horrible. I was pretty upset and the kids didn’t know what was going on. Michael gave the man money and we drove off, pretty disheartened, and feeling worse as we saw angry men coming towards us in different directions. We really thought they would start throwing coconuts or rocks at our car or something. We just wanted to get away as fast as possible.

At this point, Michael wanted to go home, but there were still other places that I wanted to go to, so we pressed on. There were three sites where you paid for one, and the receipt was supposed to get you in free at the other two places. We stopped at one and Michael got out to ask them if we could go to that one first, but they said we could only get in free if we went to the first one first, and then came back with the receipt. If we wanted to pay individually for each attraction, we could do that! Duh!

Off we drove to the canopy walkway, part of the Falealupo Rainforest Preserve. Apparently, a nice English chap had come over for a year to build a 100 ft huge hanging bridge between two ginormous tropical banyan trees. He did this so that the locals would be able to earn revenue from the tourists, and used wire cables to tie metal ladders together, and then lay wooden planks on top. It was pretty scary, but the kids were brave and thought it was a real adventure. The hardest part was carrying the babies up and down all of the steps. (When my legs were aching the next day, I realized that I haven’t used stairs for 7 months, no wonder those unused muscles were sore!)

When we were done, we decided to go to Moso’s footprint (supposed giant footprint in the lava) and the House of Rock (ancient house made out of rocks) which would be free with our admission to the canopy walkway. We drove back to Moso’s footprint where Michael had stopped to ask about prices, and the lady waved us down and pointed as to where to park. We parked the car, got the kids out, and then showed her our receipt. They wouldn’t let us see the footprint, because they said, Michael had already been onto their land when he came to ask them how much it was, so if we wanted to see it again, we would have to pay again! Michael hadn’t even seen the footprint, only asked them a question, and we weren’t about to pay admission for our whole family again when it was supposed to be included. The ladies (and all you who made comments assumed it was a man), got pretty angry and started threatening us. We tried to get back into the car and they wouldn’t let us. She waved her rusty machete and said that if we tried to drive away without paying, she would close the gate and not let us drive out. We said that we didn’t want to see it, and didn’t want to pay anything, and that we’d just leave, but she said now we had parked on her property, and now we needed to pay to get the car out. Boy, was I mad! I’m sure you can just imagine how hard it was for me to control myself! I wasn’t scared of her at all, and put the kids in the car while Michael was trying to reason with them. There was no reasoning, and I drove back onto the road off their property to wait for Michael. I guess he really thought that getting our tires or bodies slashed just wasn’t worth it, so he paid them money, got in the car, and we left.

I was so angry with the greed of these people. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. They should be trying to make tourists happy rather than scaring them off, never to return. I don’t have a problem with paying to see attractions, or even to park my car, but just put up a sign first or something. They waved us onto the land, and then wouldn’t let us leave! It’s all this collecting for nothing, and threatening with violence that is so hard to deal with. We were determined that although Savaii was a beautiful place, we had seen enough, met enough rude locals, and would never need to return here again.

Now, I was obviously very wound up when it happened, but looking back, I have more understanding. They just don’t have anything. If they can’t get the money from the tourists, they have nothing. I feel so sorry for those people. The lady at Moso’s footprint was about 8 months pregnant and had two naked children running around her. It’s just that I would prefer to just give her $50 to help her out, than to have to be treated and threatened so badly to scare us out of our money, especially in front of our kids. If I could go back in time, I would have smiled, (even when they were rude and greedy) given them the money and avoided all of the contention. I do wish that I could go back and make things right. I didn’t act very nicely towards them. Learning opportunity for me. Need to keep my emotions in check more and look at the big picture.

ANYWAY…we were all in bad moods and drove home. We had spent a lot of money, and really only done the canopy. There was one more thing that I had wanted to take the kids to on the way home, but we just didn’t know if we dared. We were afraid of even pulling over at the side of the road to take pictures in case someone came out and tried to charge us for it. As we passed it, we decided that the canopy people were nice enough, and we should give these people the benefit of the doubt too. We turned around and stopped at Pe’ape’a Cave.

This lava tube cave is named after the white swiftlets that live inside it. These unique nocturnal birds click as they fly about in the darkness. Our guide was wonderful (THANK YOU!) and let the kids take turns with the flashlights (it was pitch black inside), showed them where the tree roots were coming down from the roof of the cave, lifted them up to see the nests, and then let them all touch a little baby Pe’ape’a. We were so glad that we had stopped and that we were able to finish the day on a good note.

Back at the hotel we ate dinner and spent the evening at the pool where the kids laughed their heads off playing rock, paper, scissors into the water!  One more day left on Savaii and we had been saving the best till last…

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Responses

  1. That bridge looks freaky!!!

  2. Just got up to date on your vacation posts. I don’t know where you found the time to plan out all the details of the places you wanted to visit and how to get there. The scenery is breathtaking as usual and the kids look so cute. I am glad that despite the threats you were all ok, including the car. As far as the dog, maybe he was suicidal anyways, living among the angry people! J/k, that’s mean to say. I hope those people learn a better way to do things though.

  3. It’s pretty sad that they mistreat people that way. They’re uneducated though and they probably don’t know about Jesus. U know, there’s a rock band called Angry Samoans. And now I know why!

    • Yes, but it’s not a nationality thing, you find people like that wherever you go…I’ve come across plenty of horrible British and American people in my life as well. The lesson here was for me…it doesn’t matter how other people treat me, it’s how I treat them that’s important. Easier said than done, but something I definitely need to work on 🙂

  4. How scary! I’m impressed you were able to stop at one last stop before going back. I would have just wanted to go home.


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