As the sun set on my last night in the Pacific, my eyes glazed over, and the coconut trees that stretched as far as the eye could see became a bit blurry. Two of the best weeks of my life were coming to an end. From the second we landed, up to that very moment, I’d been living in a dream, so far from reality, so distanced from worry, with no qualms of the future or the past.
The beautiful Polynesian islands of Samoa, which I visited over the summer of 2017, gave me just the right dose of humility, kindness and forgiveness that I needed to take on what was going to be the next step in my life. It’s an unforgettable experience to have been immersed in a culture where the people live and breathe the values that some of us have forgotten still exist in our sometimes too fast paced world. The Samoans believe in sharing, in kindness, in family and community. Their open houses speak to their open hearts, boasting the lifestyle of a civilisation that has been around for thousands of years.
If the people of Samoa (pronounced Sa-ah-mo-ah), have taught me anything it’s that the age old saying that we all learn, that ‘sharing is caring’ is not and should not just be practiced by toddlers and children. Now this may make you think, well yeah duh Vadz everyone knows that. Well yes everyone knows it, but there are very few places in the world where sharing (be it food, daily goods or even a kind word) extends to people other than friends and family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole country live by that idea. And now you’re thinking well that’s a bit offensive to every other country in the world. And if that is what you’re thinking then you’re missing the point entirely. The Samoans have in them an inspiring purity in their intentions which is ingrained in their tradition.
The most beautiful thing about the Samoans is how proud they are of themselves. They’re honoured by and boast their culture and lifestyle that has been passed on through the generations. In the 21st century, where else are you going to be riding a tour bus, only to have the tour guide tell you ‘oh yeah by the way the driver is the Big Chief of his village’. Hi hello yes is this the set of Moana? Okay jokes aside, you end up sitting there looking at this burly guy decorated with tattoos, baffled at the mere concept of a ‘chief’, trying to imagine a historical scene where the chiefs and the other men of the village sit in a circle discussing important matters while the women sit close by weaving flower crowns and baskets made of coconut leaves. I’m sorry did I say historical scene, I meant 2017 scene. As in that actually still happens. And they don’t do it for the tourists or to put on a show, they genuinely live that way; the men in their traditional skirts to go to work in the office every morning and the women with their banana leaf bags to go to the market. They are so culturally uninfluenced by the outside world and refuse to be so. Now, it needs to be pointed out that the wifi there is great and everyone has a flat screen tv in their living rooms, but these said living rooms are open, all day and most of the night, available to any tempted scavenger, and yet, the country boasts the lowest crime rate in the world. Why? Because the people are just darn good people.
I know that I come from some freaking beautiful islands too, and you would imagine that all islands are the same. In many ways they are, and in many ways, they aren’t. One sits in the Pacific, the other (my islands) on the opposite side of the world in the Indian Ocean, yet we share some of the same flora and fauna and some very similar traditions. But the landscapes on the islands of Samoa are some of the most magical to behold. The waterfalls and rock pools, framed by dark volcanic rocks. The endless plantations of coconut trees that extend over fields and mountains. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum that brings tears to the eyes. The fire dancing, the music, the beaches, the markets, the food! Ugh I wish I could give justice to the way it feels to watch the sun set behind the darkening shadows of the towering coconut trees. That helplessly romantic little twinge in your heart that makes you wish you didn’t have to leave. But of course, we did.
I’d love to hear about any of your bucket list island adventures! I wonder where my next one will take me.
But until then, sit back, grab some Cheetos and let’s see what life has to offer us next.