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 turf in northern Upolu.
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 down a street in Upolu after Mass in one of Upolu's churches
meadow with life
Huge taros in the foreground of a green Upolu meadow.
faith in the tropics
Tropical-religious corner of Upolu, the mother island of Western Samoa
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 that is followed by some diplomatic words and a snail-step trip to the center: “Our limit is 40km/h. Samoan police do not forgive! And they especially like leaving the airport here.”

It took us an eternity to arrive, but after hopping for a few months over several islands in the Pacific, we are mentalized to the dragging notion of time of these stops and we no longer despair, as in the beginning.

Apia: the route to the Samoan archipelago

In visual terms, the capital will hardly 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 remaining head island Upolu where traffic, noise and relative urban confusion do not reach.

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 pass the bus terminal. We see it full of gaudy old buses that divulge the names of the mini-companies that drive them. Or messages of encouragement, faith and hope such as “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 approached the coast on the opposite coast from the capital. We crossed several distinctly Polynesian villages, 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 ie 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 of 2009. 190 people died. Most of the survivors moved inland. Or to other countries. They are still so traumatized that they refuse to return 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 restock food and drinks at the small, well-kept roadside grocery stores. We soon found 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 the 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”.

Opportunities to thrive in Samoa are few. Like so many other Polynesian islands, the archipelago lacks valuable raw materials. The families that remain are the ones that inherited properties and manage to subsist and make a profit from the land. Those that have 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, Samoan immigrants 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. But in Samoa, the ancient patterns of tattoos are beginning to lose cultural significance in the nation. In a simplified way, they serve to promote the new urban and marginal identity of the Samoans and the 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. Fiji and French Polynesia.

In Samoa, the sale of family properties is prohibited. Lands can remain in the same families for centuries on end. As we have seen, when they coincide with points of tourist interest – be they beaches, waterfalls, ponds, etc. – families keep guard members ready to charge visitors for entry. So they alleviate 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 land, the elders guarding the entrance to the trail force Anthony to sit in front of him and decompose him because we hadn't also sat down and given 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.

Then he tries to justify our delay. “Like so many others, their families are out. The only thing they can hold on to are the conviviality, customs and the money they get from these entrances. It may seem forced to you, but I don't blame them. It's the whole story of a people that is in question here.”

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

bay of islands, New Zealand

New Zealand's Civilization Core

Waitangi is the key place for independence and the long-standing coexistence of native Maori and British settlers. In the surrounding Bay of Islands, the idyllic marine beauty of the New Zealand antipodes is celebrated, but also the complex and fascinating kiwi nation.
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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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.
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.
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.
Esteros del Iberá, Pantanal Argentina, Alligator
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina

The Pantanal of the Pampas

On the world map, south of the famous brazilian wetland, a little-known flooded region appears, but almost as vast and rich in biodiversity. the Guarani expression Y bera defines it as “shining waters”. The adjective fits more than its strong luminance.
Herd in Manang, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 8th Manang, Nepal

Manang: the Last Acclimatization in Civilization

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hacienda mucuyche, Yucatan, Mexico, canal
Architecture & Design
Yucatan, Mexico

Among Haciendas and Cenotes, through the History of Yucatan

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For Those Becoming Internet Sick

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Military Religious, Wailing Wall, IDF Flag Oath, Jerusalem, Israel
Ceremonies and Festivities
Jerusalem, Israel

A Festive Wailing Wall

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Journey in the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Varandas Avenida Marítima
Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands

A Journey into the History of Santa Cruz de La Palma

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Cocoa, Chocolate, Sao Tome Principe, Agua Izé farm
São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

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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.
Spectator, Melbourne Cricket Ground-Rules footbal, Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia

The Football the Australians Rule

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Twelve Apostles, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Great Ocean Road, Australia

Ocean Out, along the Great Australian South

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Cobá, trip to the Mayan Ruins, Pac Chen, Mayans of now
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From the Ruins to the Mayan Homes

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View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

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Hispanic Guatemala, the Antigua Fashion

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Rottnest Island, Wadjemup, Australia, Quokkas
Wadjemup, Rottnest Island, Australia

Among Quokkas and other Aboriginal Spirits

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Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
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Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

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Almada Negreiros: From Saudade to Eternity

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Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States,
PN Joshua Tree, California, United States

The Arms stretched out to Heaven of the PN Joshua Tree

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Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
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Natural Parks
Saba, The Netherlands

The Mysterious Dutch Queen of Saba

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UNESCO World Heritage
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In Search of the Immaculate Dominican Beach

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Couple visiting Mikhaylovskoe, village where writer Alexander Pushkin had a home
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The Writer Who Succumbed to His Own Plot

Alexander Pushkin is hailed by many as the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature. But Pushkin also dictated an almost tragicomic epilogue to his prolific life.
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An Adult Return to Cahuita

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knights of the divine, faith in the divine holy spirit, Pirenopolis, Brazil
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

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The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

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The Island of Success and Monotony

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Daily life
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Tasmania from Top to Bottom

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Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
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The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.