Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

Aggie Grey's Hotel Facade
Facade of the hotel founded by Aggie Gray on the coast of Apia.
offshore cruise
Cruise to the lake of the capital Apia and the Aggie Grey's hotel.
Marlon Brando stayed here
A plaque distinguishes the fale in which Marlon Brando stayed at the Aggie Gray hotel
big night of spin
Party night spins at the Aggie Grays hotel in Apia.
powerful hips
Young dancer enchants the night audience with fast and exuberant hip movements.
fire dance
Young man exhibits another dance with flames by the pool at the Aggie Grey's hotel
Fia Samoan
Dancers perform Samoan choreographies during a night of dancing at the Aggie Gray hotel
Argument "South Pacific"
Aggie Gray holds the script for South Pacific, the musical that inspired the character of Bloody Mary.
Samoan Fashion
Samoan-style dress display outside the hotel.
Aggie Gray's seal
Samoan stamp that evokes the character of Aggie Grey.
Marina Gray
Marina Grey, Aggie's daughter-in-law shows off her skills in Polynesian dances during a night of dancing
She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.

Almost every day or several times a day, Upolu is irrigated by thunderstorms.

The afternoon had started perfectly but, as on other days, we were once again caught without refuge by the dynamic weather and a warm rain that left us drenched. So it was with pleasure that we returned to the temporary home from Apia, Samoa, for long showers and change of clothes.

aggie gray, samoa, south pacific

Facade of the hotel founded by Aggie Gray on the coast of Apia.

That night, we were invited to watch the spin spin (Samoan party/banquet) at the Aggie Grey's Hotel. Perhaps because of sacred Polynesian humility, those responsible for promoting Samoa had forgotten to explain to us where they were going to stay.

Little by little, thanks largely to a hardcover book we found in our room and to the internet that we only picked up from the balcony, there we learned about the historical importance of that place and the family that founded it.

Aggie Grey's Fascinating Samoan Origin

Agnes Genevieve Swann was born in 1897 in island of upolu, Samoa. She was the second daughter of William Swann, a sailor who settled on the island as a pharmacist, and of Pele, a Samoan ceremonial maiden.

Shortly thereafter, a war broke out between the chiefs of the archipelago, Agnes was sent to the safety of Fiji. When he returned, Samoa had been divided between Germany and the USA, in accordance with the Tripartite Convention of 1899, Upolu was integrated into the Germanic Empire. The misfortunes did not stop there.

In 1903, his mother died. Aggie was raised only by her father. He tolerantly adjusted to his hedonistic existence, financial problems, and Samoan stepmother. Confirmed an already announced bankruptcy, she and the sisters helped the parent in a small shop far from town. But as they grew up, isolation plagued them. Thus, they engendered a longed-for return to the city.

aggie gray, samoa, south pacific, samoan dresses

Samoan-style dress display outside the hotel.

After a few months in the graces of an influential friend, Aggie has become a desired single on the social circuit “afakasi” (mixed Samoan and Western). She ended up marrying two promising New Zealanders.

The first relationship ended with the death of her first husband. The second became extremely degraded, with five children to raise, another bankruptcy and a new retreat far from the capital Apia.

In the distance, life in the capital continued to call for Aggie. But the only profitable businesses open to women were, then, either brothels or bars. The bars and Drinking Clubs of Apia had succumbed to the prohibition with which the later New Zealand colonist sought to remedy the excessive alcohol consumption of the Samoans.

The British Club and Aggie Gray's Career in Catering and Hospitality

Finally, Aggie Gray came up with the idea that revolutionized her life: she rescued the decaying British Club in the capital and began serving drinks legitimated by “medical authorizations” that she could get in unserious numbers.

Over the years, it has turned the new Cosmopolitan Club into the favorite haunt of bored, lonely expats. Later, also hundreds of soldiers passing through the city. He made a small fortune serving American sailors' favorite drink, a Tom Collins.

James Michener and the Disclosure of His “Tales from the South Pacific”

James Michener was one of them. By that time, this naval lieutenant was developing a fruitful career as a writer, author of 40 titles, largely family sagas set in unlikely locations around the world.

Your "Tales from the South Pacific” and the partial film adaptation “South Pacific” revealed those confines of Samoa to the West. Covertly, it was the figure of Aggie Gray that inspired Michener for the cartoon character Bloody Mary.

Aggie Grey, Samoa, South Pacific, "South Pacific"

Aggie Gray holds the script for South Pacific, the musical that inspired the character of Bloody Mary.

Aggie's convivial aptitude and her experience dealing with men acted as a surefire decoy. Disillusioned lovers and angry wives gave the business the publicity it no longer needed. It turned out to be common to all of their ventures, including the Aggie Grey's hotel that had hosted us.

It's Fia Night at Aggie Grey's Hotel

The fia-fia Samoan night begins.

Fia Fia: High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

Proud of her heritage, Marina Grey, daughter-in-law of Aggie, wife of son Alan Gray (hotel manager), takes the microphone and speaks: “I'd like to introduce you to these beautiful young Samoans all of them working here at Aggie's.

Tomorrow, one of them will be your waiter for breakfast, one of them will take care of your room and others will help you at the reception or with the purchases you make in the store. Please give them a warm applause.”

Aggie Grey, Samoa, South Pacific, spins

Party night spins at the Aggie Grays hotel in Apia.

On a stage with a vegetal aspect – with so many palm leaves and other plants that decorate it – island musicians prepare the audience for their contagious spirit of fun and celebration. When the objective is assured, they are joined by a group of energetic and hyperactive dancers in typical costumes from the archipelago.

They accompany the accelerated melodies they sing with mimic choreographies from Polynesia, beating arm against arm and arms on legs in an almost acrobatic way and at the infernal rhythm that distinguishes Samoan dances from much slower Maori, Hawaiian or Tahitian dances.

Several performances later, Marina Gray is called back to the stage. Despite its classic figure, something british, joins the last dance in an elegant and harmonious way, which surprises and delights newcomers.

aggie gray, samoa, south pacific, samoan dancers, marina gray

Marina Grey, Aggie's daughter-in-law shows off her skills in Polynesian dances during a night of dancing

The Stimulus of Hamburgers Served to American GI's in World War II

Soon after, a buffet full of traditional Samoan dishes opens, which spectators line up in long but fluid lines. And yet it was to serve fast food American mother-in-law Aggie cooked the family's success.

With spread from WWII to the Pacific, US armed forces poured into Upolu from Pago Pago, the capital of neighboring American Samoa. The Seabees (Navy Construction Force) were quick to reveal to Aggie Gray their Yankee love of hamburgers.

aggie gray, samoa, south pacific

Cruise to the lake of the capital Apia and the Aggie Grey's hotel.

“The Americans had all the money in the world, they didn't know what to do with it, and they were at war. I really cared about those guys.” You declared in 1977 to a reporter for the Free Lance Star. “I bought a cow, gathered onions, salt and pepper, just like I was told to do.

In the first sale, I had to ask the GI how to stop everything from falling apart. He jumped to the other side of the counter, smoothed the meatballs and said, "See, it's easy."

Aggie estimates that he served hamburgers to more than 12.000 Seabees and GI's. With the money, he made the Cosmopolitan Club a hotel and built speak (traditional cabins) additional for accommodation.

aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale

A plaque distinguishes the fale in which Marlon Brando stayed at the Aggie Gray hotel

And soon, the Aggie Grey's Hotel Stardom Phase

Gary Cooper, William Holden, Marlon Brando, the entire cast of “in the South Pacific” and so many other showbiz personalities elevated him to stardom. At 80, Aggie still delighted guests and guests with prodigious displays of blasphemy and his humorous and warm tirades. He died in 1988, aged 91 years.

aggie gray, samoa, south pacific, stamp of aggie gray

Samoan stamp that evokes the character of Aggie Grey.

Aggie Grey's was just part of their heritage.

From the first moment, the room that we were given seemed to be basic, with a controversial decoration, not to mention in bad taste. But we had already realized that Aggie Grey's had never had to worry too much about ephemeral Western luxuries and refinements. It was from the overcoat of his mentor's aura that he prospered.

Until recently, thousands of guests chose it – the original and the SPA version built in the meantime – as a base to discover Upolu, one of the unavoidable islands of Polynesia and the surrounding Pacific.

In December 2012, Cyclone Evans left the original hotel in disrepair, but a half year later it was reopening. For most Aggie Grey's historical fans, the worst was to come.

A few months ago, Tupaimatuna Lulai Lavea and Lupesina Frederick Gray – representatives of the group and of the holding Aggie Grey's – closed a deal with the Starwoods chain.

Some time later, the Aggie Greys's were renamed Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Hotel & Bungalows

Tonga, Western Samoa, Polynesia

XXL Pacific

For centuries, the natives of the Polynesian islands subsisted on land and sea. Until the intrusion of colonial powers and the subsequent introduction of fatty pieces of meat, fast food and sugary drinks have spawned a plague of diabetes and obesity. Today, while much of Tonga's national GDP, Western Samoa and neighbors is wasted on these “western poisons”, fishermen barely manage to sell their fish.

Homes Sweet Homes

Few species are more social and gregarious than humans. Man tends to emulate other homes sweet homes in the world. Some of these houses are impressive.
Apia, Western Samoa

Fia Fia - High Rotation Polynesian Folklore

From New Zealand to Easter Island and from here to Hawaii, there are many variations of Polynesian dances. Fia Fia's Samoan nights, in particular, are enlivened by one of the more fast-paced styles.
Upolu, Samoa  

The Broken Heart of Polynesia

The imagery of the paradisiacal South Pacific is unquestionable in Samoa, but its tropical beauty does not pay the bills for either the nation or the inhabitants. Anyone who visits this archipelago finds a people divided between subjecting themselves to tradition and the financial stagnation or uprooting themselves in countries with broader horizons.
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Couchsurfing (Part 1)

Mi Casa, Su Casa

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Travel does not cost

On the next trip, don't let your money fly

Not only the time of year and in advance with which we book flights, stays, etc. influence the cost of a trip. The payment methods we use at destinations can make a big difference.

In Search of the Lost Time

For 121 years, it was the last nation on Earth to change the day. But Samoa realized that his finances were behind him and, in late 2012, he decided to move back west on the LID - International Date Line.
Tongatapu, Tonga

The Last Polynesian Monarchy

From New Zealand to Easter Island and Hawaii, no other monarchy has resisted the arrival of European discoverers and modernity. For Tonga, for several decades, the challenge was to resist the monarchy.
Effortless Traveling

Book Comfortable Stays for Your Finances Too

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Savai’i, Samoa

The Great Samoa

Upolu is home to the capital and much of the tourist attention. On the other side of the Apolima strait, the also volcanic Savai'i is the largest and highest island in the archipelago of Samoa and the sixth in the immense Polynesia. Samoans praise her authenticity so much that they consider her the soul of the nation.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

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Aurora lights up the Pisang Valley, Nepal.
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 3rd- Upper Banana, Nepal

An Unexpected Snowy Aurora

At the first glimmers of light, the sight of the white mantle that had covered the village during the night dazzles us. With one of the toughest walks on the Annapurna Circuit ahead of us, we postponed the match as much as possible. Annoyed, we left Upper Pisang towards Escort when the last snow faded.
Itamaraty Palace Staircase, Brasilia, Utopia, Brazil
Architecture & Design
Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília: from Utopia to the Capital and Political Arena of Brazil

Since the days of the Marquis of Pombal, there has been talk of transferring the capital to the interior. Today, the chimera city continues to look surreal but dictates the rules of Brazilian development.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Burning prayers, Ohitaki Festival, fushimi temple, kyoto, japan
Ceremonies and Festivities
Kyoto, Japan

A Combustible Faith

During the Shinto celebration of Ohitaki, prayers inscribed on tablets by the Japanese faithful are gathered at the Fushimi temple. There, while being consumed by huge bonfires, her belief is renewed.
Goiás Velho, Legacy of the Gold Fever, Brazil
Goiás Velho, Brazil

A Gold Rush Legacy

Two centuries after the heyday of prospecting, lost in time and in the vastness of the Central Plateau, Goiás esteems its admirable colonial architecture, the surprising wealth that remains to be discovered there.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Dali, China

Chinese Style Flash Mob

The time is set and the place is known. When the music starts playing, a crowd follows the choreography harmoniously until time runs out and everyone returns to their lives.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Annapurna Circuit: 5th - Ngawal a BragaNepal

Towards the Nepalese Braga

We spent another morning of glorious weather discovering Ngawal. There is a short journey towards Manang, the main town on the way to the zenith of the Annapurna circuit. We stayed for Braga (Braka). The hamlet would soon prove to be one of its most unforgettable places.
Meeting of the waters, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
Manaus, Brazil

Meeting the Meeting of the Waters

The phenomenon is not unique, but in Manaus it has a special beauty and solemnity. At a certain point, the Negro and Solimões rivers converge on the same Amazonas bed, but instead of immediately mixing, both flows continue side by side. As we explore these parts of the Amazon, we witness the unusual confrontation of the Encontro das Águas.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

The inevitable fishing

Florianopolis, Brazil

The South Atlantic Azorean Legacy

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Glass Bottom Boats, Kabira Bay, Ishigaki
Ishigaki, Japan

The Exotic Japanese Tropics

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coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Winter White
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

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Lake Manyara, National Park, Ernest Hemingway, Giraffes
Lake Manyara NP, Tanzania

Hemingway's Favorite Africa

Situated on the western edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park is one of the smallest but charming and richest in Europe. wild life of Tanzania. In 1933, between hunting and literary discussions, Ernest Hemingway dedicated a month of his troubled life to him. He narrated those adventurous safari days in “The Green Hills of Africa".
Intha rowers on a channel of Lake Inlé
Inle Lake, Myanmar

The Dazzling Lakustrine Burma

With an area of ​​116km2, Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar. It's much more than that. The ethnic diversity of its population, the profusion of Buddhist temples and the exoticism of local life make it an unmissable stronghold of Southeast Asia.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Masada fortress, Israel
Natural Parks
Massada, Israel

Massada: The Ultimate Jewish Fortress

In AD 73, after months of siege, a Roman legion found that the resisters at the top of Masada had committed suicide. Once again Jewish, this fortress is now the supreme symbol of Zionist determination
Christmas in the Caribbean, nativity scene in Bridgetown
UNESCO World Heritage
Bridgetown, Barbados e Grenada

A Caribbean Christmas

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Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
Montezuma and Malpais, Costa Rica's best beaches, Catarata
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Back to the Tropical Arms of Montezuma

It's been 18 years since we were dazzled by this one of Costa Rica's blessed coastlines. Just two months ago, we found him again. As cozy as we had known it.
knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

Introduced in 1819 by Portuguese priests, the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo de Pirenópolis it aggregates a complex web of religious and pagan celebrations. It lasts more than 20 days, spent mostly on the saddle.
End of the World Train, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
On Rails
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Myanmar
u-bein BridgeMyanmar

The Twilight of the Bridge of Life

At 1.2 km, the oldest and longest wooden bridge in the world allows the Burmese of Amarapura to experience Lake Taungthaman. But 160 years after its construction, U Bein is in its twilight.
Daily life
Arduous Professions

the bread the devil kneaded

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Etosha National Park Namibia, rain
PN Etosha, Namíbia

The Lush Life of White Namibia

A vast salt flat rips through the north of Namibia. The Etosha National Park that surrounds it proves to be an arid but providential habitat for countless African wild species.
Napali Coast and Waimea Canyon, Kauai, Hawaii Wrinkles
Scenic Flights
napali coast, Hawaii

Hawaii's Dazzling Wrinkles

Kauai is the greenest and rainiest island in the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the oldest. As we explore its Napalo Coast by land, sea and air, we are amazed to see how the passage of millennia has only favored it.