Thursday, April 15, 2010

Samoa.Why did we wait so long?

Samoa, why did we wait so long to visit you?You were always there, waiting in your beautiful tropical  laid back friendliness.Somewhere, always pushed to the background, while Fiji, New Caledonia then Rarotonga sought precedence.We'd known each other so long since I first worked beside your people dispersed from their villages, apart from their family, seeking a better future in our freezing works,our factories,  building our roads,when we desperately needed your sweat and toil a couple of decades or so ago.
So why did we not go before?
I guess some of that may have been because we have a less than positive perception of Samoa.But that was about to change!
It changed the moment we stepped off the plane and walked through your arrival hall.We stopped and listened to the trio playing for our entertainment, and motioned an appreciation to a singer.What a huge genuine smile in response.And a wave of positivity swung through me.
That change strengthened as we took that taxi ride to Apia.Along the cleanest road of any island we've been to.Where was all the litter, the plastic bags,the rubbish and detritus so common in island or other developing countries we've visited?How come everyone's lawns were so manicured, and their gardens full of carefully  tended multi coloured plants ?We felt we were driving through the best botannical gardens you'd see in the best cities in the world.
A far cry from our friend's description of Apia.Friends who have travelled on several Pacific cruises calling in at umpteen different ports, tried desperately to dissuade us.Perhaps those cruises do Apia a huge disservice in presenting a cruise visitor with your worst side, your port,your (to them)grubby markets, a hurried 6 hours on shore,most of that at Aggies bar , and paint such a poor perception in the minds of those quickie tourists to carry back and  deter other real visitors?
Sometimes I wonder about cruise line travel........
Do they get that welcome you extended to us?Your clean,green , bountiful gardens,multi coloured coleus and croton lined drive from airport to  city.And to top it all off, that whole avenue lined each side with school children exiting your schools wearing a  rainbow of school uniforms,oversung with their gaiety! 
I have to hand it to you.Samoa you welcomed us!

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