Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Samoa Part 13: Island Tour

Once, in conjuction with a zone conference on the big island of Savaii, our mission president took us on a taamilosaga, or circumnavigation, of the island to see some of the sights.

In the map above, you can see some of the major villages we visited. We started at Salelologa and drove in our white mission vans to the Taga blowholes, pictured below. Without a doubt, Samoa is a gorgeous set of islands. Previous to this trip, I had spent my first three months in Samoa almost exclusively in the area of Salelologa. Seeing additional evidence of Savaiian beauty further convinced me that Savaii was where I wanted to stay.

Our journey continued to the westernmost tip of the Western Hemisphere, Falealupo. Legend has it that just west of Falealupo is located the Fafā, the entrance to the Samoan underworld which is ruled by a half-man, half-eel named Saveasi'uleo. At Falealupo, we visited a bridge spanning the distance between two aoa, or banyon, trees. Banyons are monstrosities; and the bridge was located a fair distance up in the air. The bridge led to a lookout over the rainforest which was preserved from complete devastation in the early 1990s through the efforts of Dr. Paul Cox, an ethnobotanist and Samoa Apia Mission alumnus. Dr. Cox's book, Nafanua: Saving the Samoan Rainforest, is a great read. I'd suggest it to anyone interested in Samoa or cultural and ecological preservation.

Looking westward from Savaii's western point.

Most of the north shore side of Savaii we saw from within our vans. As we traveled, I listened to the stories of older missionaries from when they served in various villages we passed: Fagamalo, Lefagaoalii, etc. Elder Pakesi played on his ukulele and was acompanied in singing by Elder Seumalii. By the time we got back to Salelologa, I was ready to rest. Elder Seumalii and I went to our fafaga, or meal, and finished the day with some studies in our little fale.

A typical spread at a meal.
Items pictured: fish (far left and upper right), lobster (notice the lack of pincers; very characteristic of Pacific lobsters), breadfruit (big and round), baked green bananas (next to breadfruit), eel (lower right, coiled in banana leaf with coconut milk), and chicken with greens (upper left, mottled brown bowl).

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