Friday, September 17, 2010

Looking Through my Fathers Eyes

My parents are here in Samoa for a three week visit. Somehow I thought the much anticipated day would never arrive, and then Monday night I found myself heading off to the airport on the 9:30 shuttle from Aggies to await their arrival. When they first began planning their trip, three weeks seemed like a long amount of time, yet one week later, our days have been full, although not busy, and they are gaining an in-depth understanding and appreciation for this beautiful island I call home.

Their visit began in a similar fashion to most tourists, with a brief stay in the main city of Apia. I tend to take Apia for granted and often forget to see how pretty the city actually is. While eating breakfast on a breezy corner of the main strip I marveled at my parents adoration of the city. Where I saw a dirty seawall, they saw a perfect harbor behind it. Where I saw ditty streets, they saw the well composed trees and flowers lining the sides. And where I saw a fast paced, crowded town, they saw a slower placed life. Sitting on the street corner sipping my coffee, I began to see Apia as I had once seen her, nearly eleven months ago, and I smiled with relief that inside of me I can still find that beauty.

We visited the market and sipped coconuts as we rummaged through the stations, each overflowing with bananas, papaya, cabbages, and other produce brought in from their family plantations. We visited the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and we captivated by the charm of the house and the myth of the man who once lived there. We witnessed a traditional Samoan tattoo being chiseled into place (thanks Matt, it looks great!), and we strolled the seawall, admiring the traditional longboats practicing their warrior rowing in the harbor. After three days in Apia, it was time to head back to my village and introduce my parents to a more traditional way of life.

We boarded Lady Samoa I and left the wharf with blue skies overhead and a calm sea below us. My mom and I, who both tend to get hit hard by seasickness, each took a dramamine before boarding the boat and as a result were exhausted and a little cloudy headed. Like a true Samoan, my mom found a nice bench on the boat and stretched out to enjoy a breezy hour and a half nap as we made our way across the sea. My dad and I walked to the sides of the boat to gaze out at the open ocean on the right and the small islands which dot the sea on the left. The sea was a deep turquoise color which lightened to sky blue where the boat broke through the waves. The ride was short and easy and soon enough we were at Le Waterfront enjoying a taste of America with one of the best views of the South Pacific.

With food in us it was time to head up to the village. My mom became the designated driver for the trip and I took on roll of co-pilot, watching for pigs, dogs, and small children, while pointing out areas of interest along the road.

As we pulled into my driveway a child ran out and rang a bell for all the village to hear indicating our arrival. We brought bags of luggage and food into my house and were soon greeted by one of the Matai of the village. Shortly after his visit came visits from my neighbors, and finally from the pastor who my parents would be staying with. He embraced them as family and invited us all to come back to his house when ready for dinner. The community has been so welcoming to me throughout my stay here and they were no different to my parents. After just one evening, my parents felt like they too had been accepted into my extended Samoan family.

We are now at Bayview after a lovely stay in my village. Our fall sits right next to a lovely bay and a strong steady breeze rustles our curtains and mosquito nets, cooling the air. The fale has one air conditioned room with an attached bathroom. The patio/walkway leading up to the entrance to the room continues past the doorway and opens up into an enclosed deck created in the traditional open fale manner, with two beds surrounded by mosquito nets, three wooden chairs, and a small wooden table. Their is a criss crossed fence surrounded the fale with red flower patterned curtains lining the edges of the roof. Just below our deck is a small sandy area with two kayaks and two outrigger canoes. A short paddle across the bay is a barrier island, and just on the other side of the lush green barrier, gigantic waves crash down upon a black sand beach, tossing and turning huge stones and chunks of coral ripped up by the aggressive waves in the deep sea. The beach extends for a mile or two in each direction with juts of lava rock meeting the rough sea and splashing waves up to fifty feet through the lava tube blow holes. It is a unique resort with some of the best food I have tasted in my eleven months on the island and with an enchanting night sky that seems to penetrate the body and make you one with the universe. If you are planning on coming to Samoa, make sure Bayview is on your list of places to stay.

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