SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
October 04, 2015
Wet and Wild: A Samoan Adventure
13° 49.6’ S, 171° 46.6’ W
Alongside Apia Harbor, Samoa
Wind direction and speed
East-South-East, strength 1
It's hard to describe a day that starts with a 4:45am trip to the fish market and ends with sunset sailing on the bow of an ancient Polynesian replica double hulled canoe. The floodlit bustle of cold fish slapping countertops was one of the more surreal wakeups I have experienced. To say that our little group of camera flashing college students felt out of place would be an understatement, but the vendors were happy to point out parrot fish neatly spear caught in nearby reefs, whole and glistening yellowfin tuna, and giant dinner plate slabs of albacore steak two inches thick. Through the morning dark we picked our way to the produce market next door and purchased steaming cups of coconut tapioca goodness and thick taro cake with sweet sauce. I was equal parts exhilarated and exhausted by the time we returned to the Seamans for breakfast.
Kudos to Ben, our Chief Scientist, for keeping energy levels up with the most amazing day of island adventures. Representatives from the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) guided us first to a picture postcard beach on the south of the island where we talked natural protection against coastal erosion and snorkeled in the aqua waters. I'll admit I snuck a nap under the shade of a fale - a traditional open sided, thatched roof structure for large congregations and communal style living.
Next stop was a costal walk along the rough and rugged cliffs of hardened lava, telling the story of the island's fiery birth. The waves swelled from deep blue to marine and then frothing white as they crashed against the hundred foot high black rocks. I got drenched by a surprise plume of salty water spewed straight up and over my head by the force of the surge. No matter though as we continued from the cliffs to a fresh water series of pools and falls, which washed off the salt as we leapt from the surrounding rocks into the cool waters.
Across the Pacific, missionaries brought traditional communities from their inland dwellings to coastal towns and villages. As you drive along Samoa's shoreline, groups of houses dot the roadside until you reach the nation's capital, Apia. This leaves the island's interior a near untouched mountainous jungle of tropical foliage. The waterfall we visited, along with the tens of other such sites speckled across the island, is found between
Exhausted, we finally returned to the boat and pulled on dry clothes with our prune-wrinkled fingers. Wrong move. The final treat in store was a once in a lifetime type opportunity to ride on the Gaualofa, one of a seven strong fleet of double hulled canoes built to replicate the vessels of Pacific past and distributed across the Pacific islands. The canoes sail across the Pacific spreading awareness of the effects of climate change and the need for ocean protection and restoration, along with the histories and customs of traditional Pacific culture. The ride was breathtaking in every sense of the word. Once we were out of the harbor we slid out onto the bow (harnesses clipped on, of course) and were drenched once again as the hull plunged into and through the bath-warm waves. Two hours and many hoarse throats later we returned to dock as the sun sank as a golden orb. I may have to live without my fruit loops out here, but I'm sure enjoying Samoa.
Today was a glorious day.