Last week was our special time together. We chose to quietly celebrate 40 years of married life in the islands of Samoa. Last week we found Paradise. No cellphone, no book, no television or radio. No grandkids. Just us. Island time. Siesta time. Conversations as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Himself and I became willing captives in this beyond-our-Kiwi-lifestyle, traditional way of life of the friendly Samoan people.
Like Rupert Brooke the poet who visited Samoa, we were enchanted as we lay “on a mat” and looked “out on the white sand under the high palms and gentle sea, and the black line of a reef a mile out…”. We too met “the loveliest people in the world, moving and dancing like Gods and godesses. It is sheer beauty, so pure it is difficult to breathe in it.” Of course we took in the sights and familiarised ourselves with Samoan culture and history. We listened to the stories about legendary hotelier Aggie Grey and Robert Louis Stevenson who was known as Tusitala the soryteller. Film-makers have been inspired by the spectacular lagoons with their palm-fringed beaches. I must read James Michener again and see the movie Return to Paradise filmed at Matatau on Upolu Island. I didn’t need a book.The stories were there before me.
We trawled the local food and craft markets. Naturally, I was interested in what village people grew in their gardens and plantations. In our travels, I marvelled at how hard people in the villages work to live on meagre means. They fish in the lagoons and beyond the reef. They cultivate taro, breadfruit, papaya, plantains and other vegetables and fruits as food staples year-round for their large aiga (families). Their pride is reflected in their immaculately kept villages. There’s more in these islands: volcanic lava fields; the rainforests; fresh water streams and waterfalls; nature’s riot of colour repeated on the houses, churches and fale. A pod of whales cavorted on cue in the sea during one ferry trip. The turtles in Savaii were captivating.
Back at the resort into the night, there was Samoan dancing and singing and fresh game fish on the menu. It was all so leisurely. After a day in the tropical heat, a tall glass of gin, tonic and fresh lime poured over ice seemed just right. I wondered vaguely (ever so momentarily) how I would ever manage to go back to work and do all the physical gardening activities at home. Getting to know another country is exciting. Our time in Samoa was too short. We didn’t see it all but we will go back. This was our special time.
I even had to remind myself to take any photos at all such was the entranced state we found ourselves in.