Are Samoans classified as black
The real heart of Polynesia - Samoa
Viewed from a great height, there are ten green spots in the middle of the endless expanse of the South Pacific: "Malo Sa’oloto Tuto’atasi o Samoa", the independent state of Samoa since 1962. If you stand on the beach, listen to the waves, hear the peace and quiet and enjoy the warmth of the islanders, then the rest of the world is endlessly far away ...
Most of the inhabitants (approx. 150,000) live on the island of Upolu (slightly larger than Rügen). The neighboring island of "Savai‘i" (approx. 45,000), which can be reached by ferry in a good 60 minutes, also belongs to the national territory. It is the largest island in the South Pacific in terms of area and is even more pristine. The islands were created tens of millions of years ago by a volcano, easily recognizable by the rugged and densely overgrown mountain slopes. Here in “Paradise on Earth”, which was settled about 3,000 years ago, there is neither war nor crime, the only bank robbery was about 10 years ago - well, where should the robber flee to? There are no cold spells in Samoa and no heat waves, no tropical diseases and no dangerous animals. The average temperature is 27 degrees, and it rains regularly, mostly at the beginning of December, and sometimes there is violent storms. Everything you need to live has to be imported at a high price, except what agriculture produces.
Samoa - The lifestyle of the inhabitants makes the island an insider tip
By western standards, Samoa is a poor country. And yet: it is NOT the money, but the lifestyle of its residents, which has slowly but steadily turned the island paradise into an “insider tip”. The friendliness of the islanders is extraordinary: not a loud word, no shouting, whether at the fish market or at the ferry during the one-hour crossing to the neighboring island of Savai‘i. Raising one's voice is frowned upon. Whoever does this is against the "Fa’a Samoa", he loses face. Around 99% of the population of Samoa are committed to one of the many (privately financed, i.e. no church taxes) Christian churches and communities in the country.
A small Muslim prayer house and the temple of the Bahaii religion *, also viewed by many as a Christian community, are the only signs of other faiths. A natural part of Samoan life is therefore also the community, especially in the villages. You grow up in it, go to Sunday school, in the groups for young people, in the choir, then as an adult in the committees. Everyone has their place. Going to church on Sunday morning is a MUST, often again in the afternoon is a matter of course. In Apia, the capital, one church after the other is lined up along the Beach Road promenade, and they are all packed. The melodic music of the singing Samoans comes from everyone: Here life is celebrated with fervor.
Celebration is very important, and Vailima beer, once introduced by German colonialists and brewed according to the Purity Law, likes to flow. It is the only beer brewed on the South Sea Island. If that is too expensive for you, you can turn to KAVA, a brownish brew made from powdered roots of the pepper plant with an intoxicating effect. It is actually served at important ceremonies of the village elders, but at the Apia market men drink kava in the morning - that makes people talkative. Apia (approx. 40,000 inhabitants) is the center of local activities, with bars, restaurants, discos, etc. Anyone who wants to understand the island and its inhabitants must have seen, smelled and felt these three large markets, which are open every day. At the Savalalo flea market you can find many inexpensive Samoan souvenirs, such as the traditional lavalava (sarong), which many Samoans wear as a dress or skirt, and of course the handcrafted wood carvings.
Fish fans should definitely stroll through the Apia fish market (right next to the bus station on Beach Road). Here the fishermen sell numerous exotic fish species from 6:00 a.m. - many of them a European eye is unlikely to have seen before. Not to be forgotten is the large Fugalei fresh market, where the few tourists are amazed at all sorts of bananas, coconuts, taro, the tasty taro, and depending on the season pineapple and papaya - vegetables and fruit come in all colors and shapes.
Palusami is a delicious snack: taro leaves, spinach and coconut juice, wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in the oven, are available on every corner. Likewise Oka: raw fish marinated in lemon juice with coconut, onions, cucumber and tomatoes. In Samoa, celebratory meals are baked in the traditional Umu oven: in the ground, with fire and hot stones. The ingredients come in banana leaves on the stones, leaves are placed over them.
Those interested in culture should definitely visit the Museum of Samoa. There you get to know the culture of the Pacific region in general and the special culture of the Samoans. Before doing this, however, you should visit the very authentic Samoa Cultural Village shows. Here in the “culture village”, as is still common today, the traditionally covered platforms, the falas, show the handcrafted wood carvings, how to weave real carrier bags and baskets from palm leaves or how to print fabrics with wooden stamps.
It is impressive to see how tattoos are engraved in traditional “sessions”. For hours, Petole Suluape, the tattoo master, drove the sharp tines dipped in ink a thousand times over with a small wooden mallet into the inside of the thigh of the man lying in front of him, framed by friends or to keep him from the curious glances of a handful of tourists protect around. To be tattooed is part of the islander's lifestyle and follows a millennia-old tradition that extends from the knees to the navel and is pigmented over the entire area. The procedure involves a ritual: no shaving, no perfume, no sex for days, and you sleep on the hard floor. In the end, the evil spirits are chased away with oil baths.
Robert L. Stevenson lived in Samoa
The book “Treasure Island” has fascinated generations even in childhood. The Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson “Tusitala” (Samoan for “storyteller”) spent the last four years of his life in Vailima, about 5 kilometers outside Apias. His former home is now the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, where personal items and original manuscripts can be viewed Monday through Saturday. The excessively "obese" islanders are striking. It sounds paradoxical: on the one hand, SAMOA is classified as “poor” by the international monetary fund and the aid organizations, on the other hand being corpulent is a sign of wealth in Samoa. Yes, there is a McDonald’s in Apia, and yes, the pigs that roam free outside of the big cities are leaner than the “rich”. But there is such good local and vegan food ...
If Germans come to the island, they are greeted with a bonus point. Many of the islanders (Afftassi *) have German great-grandfathers and some families keep the ancient and yellowed pictures in the “sacred chest”. So you don't have to be surprised if you smile at an island dweller with their velvet-colored skin tones from light blue eyes. The blonde on her hair isn't dyed - it's real. (* Editor's note: .. translated this means "half of the whole", so a hybrid).
One of the most beautiful beaches on Upolu is Lalomanu Beach with a picturesque white sandy beach. Black sand is located on Aganoa Beach and can only be reached by sea or with a very robust four-wheel drive car. Other beautiful beaches are Matareva Beach and Tafa Tafa Beach. If you are looking for a change from beach life, we recommend a detour to the Pupu Pu’e National Park. There you can go on a one-hour hike through the jungle to the impressive Pe’ape’a cave in the dry months of April to November or you can explore the 100 m high Papapapaitai waterfall (along the Cross Island Road) with a rental car.
One of the “wonders of nature” is also the hidden lake To Sua Ocean Trench, near the village of Lotofaga. If you dare, jump the 30 m deep or use a long ladder. A very special kind of bathing pleasure awaits you there: turquoise blue water and the feeling of having discovered a secret treasure if you dare to dive into the second lava cave. A few kilometers further, in the small village of Lufilufi and on the site of the Piula Theological College, the Piula Cave Pool, one of several natural freshwater spring pools and underwater cave, invites you to take a refreshing dip. For locals and tourists, it is great fun to bathe in the crystal-clear "source of well-being".
Samoas Savai‘i Island
The more original and therefore less populated and visited sister island Savai‘i is only a short ferry crossing (60 minutes) away and even more untouched than Upolu. It presents itself in a breathtaking and wild beauty, a fascinating culture and offers new ultimate and authentic experiences for everyone. The many, partly untouched powder sand beaches lead into the always warm and tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, out to the offshore colorful coral reefs, which invite you to snorkel extensively. By the way, Samoa is one of the best places for surfing in the South Pacific. There is only one well-paved road that goes around the island. Left and right small brightly painted houses, their "Falas", they built directly on the beach, which are rented out to day visitors. Most of them are simple pile dwellings without walls, but with a roof over their heads because of the sun and rain. They are the opposite of the islanders' falas and are only surpassed in shape, size and furnishings by the few good hotels & resorts (see pages 158-159). Some village falas can accommodate several hundred people. Think of it as a small market square, only with a roof. This is where the residents meet, chat, gossip, and spend the day doing nothing. Every now and then "Tacheles" is spoken here when the head "Matai" meets with the village council of elders here.
Everywhere in front of the houses on the street black-spotted pigs run around with their little piglets, chickens scratch the ground and one often sees horses roaming free, dozing in the sun.
In the interior of the country, the endemic animal world is hidden, such as the Mao honey eater, the Samoa grouse or the national bird of Samoa, the tooth pigeon. They nest in the rocky, lush and mountainous, lush green ridges, in the natural, dense rainforests on the lagoons, in the deep gorges with high waterfalls. Increasingly, it is (unfortunately) coconut plantations that more and more narrow the habitats of animals. In the village of Sato’alepai Village, a Samoan family runs a kind of turtle sanctuary where sick and weakened turtles are nursed. In a large pond with crystal clear water you can watch the turtles and also feed them.
There is even the unique opportunity to swim side by side in the sea with the turtles. That should be one of the unforgettable highlights. Just like the fascinating natural spectacle in the village of Taga. At the Alofaaga Blowholes you can experience the surf of the sea in an exciting way. Through the narrow holes in the rock, the sea water is thrown meters high into the air like in a chimney. It becomes particularly impressive when the "goddess of the sea", an old woman with many laugh lines and lots of "TamTam" "conjures up" the sea, throws coconuts into the rock holes and after a few seconds these often 30 to 40 meters through the air come up again. In the low-lying tropical rainforest reserve Falealupo in the northwest of the island you should also have walked the 40m high treetop path, which was built between huge banyan trees. The walk across the suspension bridge itself is a bit shaky, so nothing for people with a fear of heights.
The Saleaula Lava Field near the village of Safotu is definitely worth a stop - a lava field surrounded by green vegetation. Molten lava from the volcanic eruption of Mount Matavanu buried a total of five villages when it erupted on August 4th, 1905 until it came to a standstill in November 1911. A half-buried church and the so-called maiden grave can still be seen on the 50 km² (!) Large lava field. Fascinating to see how nature is now making its way back through the petrified lava.
Many of the other islands are uninhabited or designated as a wildlife sanctuary. All islands have the same thing: If you look at palm trees, the beach and the sea, you might think you're standing in front of the film set of a sweet strip of the South Seas. The small tropical island state has opened up to very gentle tourism and is still trying to preserve large parts of its originality with the "good money", without drama and theater, frills and "Ballermann". They build their future on the great nature with beautiful beaches that are perfect for relaxing and switching off.
Samoa - my conclusion
Samoa is a worthwhile travel destination for everyone who wants to get to know the South Pacific from its original side. It can be used as an extension of a trip to Australia or New Zealand or as a combination with other island states in the South Seas.
Accommodation in Samoa is very diverse, from traditional stilt houses to luxurious beach retreats. You can spend a relaxing beach holiday with wellness treatments on remote beaches. The island nation can only be reached by air, usually via Auckland, New Zealand. Air New Zealand offers the cheapest and most frequent flight connections. There are an average of 14 direct flights a week to destinations all over the world from Apia International Airport. The small (propeller) machines fly to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Hawaii. Samoa is also easy to reach on an island hopping tour through the South Pacific.
The two passenger ships that call at Samoa in the port of Apia each week spit a few thousand tourists ashore for hours, so the souvenir offer is accordingly. It has to happen quickly, and if you want to take at least a touch of Samoa home with you, stop by the food, fish and meat markets.
More from Oceania: Off to French Polynesia
Photos: © Frank Gindler
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