Originally there was one Polynesian people in the Samoan islands but subsequently to colonial struggles between the British, German and American powers, there are now two Samoas, Western Samoa and American Samoa. I chose to visit Western Samoa which has managed to retain much more of its specific culture and traditional values than has American Samoa.
|Lonely Planet CIA|
The country's capital on the island of Upolu is small, clean and modern. Busses leave the center next to the Bank of Western Samoa for all parts of the island. About 35 000 of Upolu's 115 000 people live here (another 50 000 live on the sister island of Savai'i) .
Apia has features a first class hotel, Aggie Grey's, but luxury tourism has not had the here nefarious impact it has had on Tahiti.
Community life which is an essential feature of the "Samoan way" centers around community assembly halls such as this open sided structure in the center of Apia. Every village and most families have such halls where much of social is carried out often in a quasi ritual maner.
My "fale" at Tanu Beach on the north shore of Savai'i. This is a traditional Samoan house, open to the cool breeze with palm frond blinds that can be lowered at night. Most Samoan families maintain such fales next to the closed-in "modern" house where their household appliances and belongings are kept.
This was my host Taito Tanu with his wife Rachel, some of their children and grand-children at a party held in their open walled assembly hall. At least 50 relatives friends and neighbours assembled to celebrate the 7th birthday of grand daughter Rachel not shown on this photo. I was honoured to be invited to join this wonderful ,warm and friendly family!
Here I am enjoying farniente, with nothing more exacting to do than to eat and sleep and to ponder on the differences between Tahiti and Samoa while swimming in the warm Pacific and getting a great sunburn on Taito Tanu's Beach. By the way, the price here was 14US$ including two meals.
After a few days I moved from the north shore to stay at the Shuster family's resort at Satuiatua on the south shore of Savai'i. They had a restaurant and bar, the fale cost only 6US$ per day but meals were not included. Here I am getting plastered with local secondary school teachers who (in vino veritas), explained to me the pros and cons of the the Samoan traditions which survive here in Western Samoa.
The following day I woke up a bit hung over in my fale on the beach in Satuiatua. Recalling the eve's conversation, I realised once again that everything has a price and that the impressive warmth, gentleness and openness of the Samoan people was due more to an irresistible social pressure to conform to the "Samoan Way" than to a kinder natural disposition. Once again I was facing the eternal dilemma opposing social harmony and efficiency to the free pursuit of individual choice of behaviour.
I dont know why I still try to understand and evaluate the vastly differing canons of human behaviour, it does not change my behaviour nor does it change the behaviour of others towards me. Anyway, it does make travelling interesting and it gives substance to the sunset across the Pacific in front of my fale. What a great view to enjoy before going to sleep to the sound of the waves!