Upolu, Samoa  

The Broken Heart of Polynesia

Vaiala beach
Truly Pacific ocean bathes the north coast of Upolu.
Crossing of Tropical Faith
Tropical-religious corner of Upolu, the mother island of Western Samoa
afternoon exercise
Volleyball game on a community lawn in northern Savai'i.
luxuriant Samoa
North coast of Upolu seen from the top of a verdant slope, crowned by huge ferns.
Deserved rest
Driver stands in front of one of the buses serving Apia, the capital of Western Samoa
a divine bus
Bus passengers from Apia, the capital of Western Samoa
vegetable walk
Anthony McCarthy walks through a mangrove forest on the north coast of Upolu.
shelter for 2
Student brothers protect the skin whiter than normal for Samoans from the tropical sun that bakes the capital Apia
Caravan of faith
Christian believers walk along a road in Savai'i, after mass in one of Upolu's churches
meadow with life
Huge taros in the foreground of a green Upolu meadow.
night scale
Cruise anchored in the port of Apia, the urban heart of Western Samoa
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.

When he recognizes us as we exit arrivals, Anthony releases a talofa (hello) effusive which is followed by a few diplomatic words and a snail's pace trip to the centre: “Our limit is 40km/h.

The Samoa police are not forgiving! And they especially like the exit from the airport.”

It took us forever to arrive but, after hopping around for a few months on various islands in the Pacific, we're set for the dragged notion of time of these stops and we no longer despair, as at first.

Apia: the route to the Samoan archipelago

In visual terms, the capital is unlikely to be praised by the most demanding visitors.

Organized around a wide bay partially protected by coral reefs – which is also its port – Apia contrasts with the rest of the main island Upolu, where traffic, noise and the relative urban confusion do not arrive.

Upolu, Western Samoa

Cruise anchored in the port of Apia, the urban heart of Samoa

Nearly a quarter of Samoa's population (44.000 inhabitants) share the long coastal avenue, and the streets that stretch into the city's interior.

Once installed, we left the hotel in discovery mode. We went through them paying attention to the unavoidable peculiarities of the Pacific islands.

We passed the bus terminal. We see it full of old, garish buses that display the names of the mini-companies that drive them.

Or messages of encouragement, faith and hope like “Life Goes On"and "Glory to god”. They are, above all, students, the passengers of those automobile relics.

Bus passengers from Apia, Western Samoa

Bus passengers from Apia, the capital of Samoa

Protect themselves from the scorching sun in the shade of the structures at the stops and indulge in lively conversations that only the purchase of shaved ice and one or another trope interrupts.

The day-to-day life of the city takes place between an atypical combination of Polynesian and colonial buildings and architectural aberrations of modernity, with an emphasis on the seven-story “Soviet-Samoan” building in which the government was installed, overshadowing the city. speak which houses the tourism authorities.

The twin towers of the Catholic cathedral beckon us to the opposite side of the street. For decades on end, the church decorated the waterfront in white and blue, and statues of Our Lady and various saints blessed Apia.

Upolu Circum-Road Travel

In the days following arrival, Anthony shows us the wild and bucolic slopes of Upolu, a distinctly volcanic island that the rainy tropical climate is responsible for keeping lush.

Ferns and lush footpath, Upolu, Western Samoa

North coast of Upolu seen from the top of a verdant slope, crowned by huge ferns.

We approach the coast on the opposite coast to the capital.

We cross several distinctly Polynesian towns, organized around their speak communal spaces in which men carry out the ceremony of ava (in other South Pacific countries, coffee), a drink made from an intoxicating root.

Local women's committees meet to decide the best management for their villages or produce the i.e. toga, huge rugs made from dry leaves and siaps, fabrics made from bark with motifs of the island's fauna and flora.

Still the 2009 Tsunami Legacy

Already by the sea, we are surprised by the widespread destruction that devastated some other villages. Half reticent, Anthony explains to us the tragedy that caused it. “all these villages here have not yet recovered from tsunami 2009. 190 people died. Most of the survivors moved inland.

Or to other countries. They are still so traumatized that they refuse to come back here.”

Despite the protection of a barrier reef that makes the water even more turquoise, the beach and village of Lalomanu were also devastated. Even so, more recently, a native preferred to take risks and not waste his tourist potential. built speak and small bungalows that accommodate foreigners surrendered to the beauty and exoticism of the place.

We continue to explore the south coast. We do this with strategic stops to stock up on food and drinks at small roadside grocery stores.

We quickly realized that they are almost always part of households. As a rule, we need to shout for the owners, or the children to show up or deign to wake up from their nap.

Mother and daughter in store, Upolu, Western Samoa

Mother and daughter in a roadside shop on the north coast of Upolu

Edwin and the Emigration Condemnation

On one of these occasions, we awakened Edwin, a pale-eyed forty-year-old native, paunchy and sleepy that, on the pretext of explaining his many traditional tattoos, more than serving customers, he sums up the story of his life, spent trying to earn the money Upolu could never give him.

“I've worked on board and on land. I changed countries 5 or 6 times. I can't say I won't go out again but I was really fed up. For now I need some time at home”.

There are few opportunities to prosper in Samoa. Like so many other Polynesian islands, the archipelago has no valuable raw materials.

The families that remain are those that inherited properties and are able to survive and make a profit from the land. Those with members working for the government.

Taros in meadow, Upolu, Western Samoa, Polynesia

Huge taros in the foreground of a green Upolu meadow.

Or in one or another tourism business, which has finally started to develop and already represents 25% of the country's GDP but is far from solving the life of all Samoans.

In the worst cases of poverty, men, in particular, are forced to emigrate to their neighbors. New Zealand, to the Australia or the Hawaii or California, her favorite destinations.

Many of the families they leave behind join them later, at a stage when they have already begun to assimilate the predominant cultures kiwi, aussie and North American.

In the most exemplary cases, immigrant Samoans contribute to the success of these nations.

Samoan Blood of New Zealand

While staying in Upolu, we realize how proud they are that we know that Tana Umaga – one of the best players and captains of the rugby team All Black – have Samoan blood.

But the conversation would quickly change its shape if we mentioned the Auckland gangs to which the newly arrived youngsters from the archipelago or the outlaw children of emigrants end up being part of.

In which they adhere to a culture of conflict and violence exacerbated by rivalry with the Anglophone clans and the indigenous Maori who, despite being at home, suffer their own discrimination.

Lava islets, Upolu, Western Samoa, Polynesia

Patches of lava bequeathed to the sea on the northern volcanic coast of Upolu.

Tattoos and the Volcanic Lands: Resist Traditional Samoa

Tatoo is a word of Polynesian origin that had its first written reference in Samoan armadillo and was introduced to Europe by explorer James Cook and his crew.

In Samoa, age-old tattoo patterns are beginning to lose cultural significance in the nation. In a simplified way, they serve to promote the new urban and marginal identity of Samoans and Maori.

Meanwhile, land tenure law has changed little in Samoa. Rigid customs affect foreign investment and deprive the archipelago of the financial benefits enjoyed by competing parts of the Pacific. TongaFiji and French Polynesia.

In Samoa, the sale of family property is prohibited. Lands can remain in the same families for centuries.

As we have seen, when they coincide with points of tourist interest – be it beaches, waterfalls, lagoons, etc. – families have guard members ready to charge visitors for entry. This alleviates their financial needs.

Cabins at Praia-Vaiala, Upolu, Western Samoa

Tourist-occupied cabins on Vaiala Beach, north of Upolu

In one of these forays into private volcanic lands, the elders who protect the entrance to the trail force Anthony to sit down in front of them.

They let him down because we hadn't sat down and made the greetings required by island protocol.

The host only gets away with worse consequences because he makes clear that we are outsiders and are not aware of Samoan habits.

He then tries to justify the delay to us. “Like so many others, their families are out of town. The only thing they can cling to are the socializing, the customs and the money they take from these entrances.

It may seem forced to you but I don't blame them. It is the entire history of a people that is at issue here.”

With this further adventure, we confirm that, in Samoa, tradition struggles with the old custom of escaping tradition.

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New Zealand's Civilization Core

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North Island, New Zealand

Journey along the Path of Maority

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Fiji's Tribal Urbanism

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Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

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The Unlikely Sharing of Viti Levu Island

In the heart of the South Pacific, a large community of Indian descendants recruited by former British settlers and the Melanesian indigenous population have long divided the chief island of Fiji.
Viti levu, Fiji

Islands on the edge of Islands

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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.
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

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Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

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.

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.
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.
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A Journey Through the Masai Lands

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Prayer flags in Ghyaru, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
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From Nightmare to Dazzle

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Visitors in Jameos del Água, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Architecture & Design
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Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

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Shintoism and Buddhism with the Tide

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The Island that Survived “Survivor”

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The Longest 4th of July

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Cable car connecting Puerto Plata to the top of PN Isabel de Torres
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The Dominican Home Silver

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Overall, Mexico

The Most Caribbean of the Mayan Ruins

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

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Correspondence verification
Winter White
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PN Timanfaya, Lanzarote, Canary Islands

PN Timanfaya and the Fire Mountains of Lanzarote

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UNESCO World Heritage
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A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

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Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Power Plant: Watt Fever

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Mozambican Fashion Service Area

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Jeep crosses Damaraland, Namibia
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Namibia On the Rocks

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Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
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The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

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