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Pictures of our Samoa trip
(Island of Upolu: Part 2)
Part 1: Island of  Upolu: Part 1
Part 3: Apia/Upolu: 47th Independence Day - June 1st, 2009
Part 4: Island of  Savaii
    Samoa Map                        Map of Upolu 
                             Map of
                           the Pacific
latest picture: August 1, 2009
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67  On the Northeast coast,
the palm covered hills
meet the Pacific Ocean
 68  A pig is slaughtered for a
funeral ceremony. A funeral belongs
to the “fa’a Samoa”, the Samoan
way of life and it can last the whole
day. Generous gifts are exchanged
69  The village church of Falefa,
nestled between a grove of palm
trees on the Northeast coast
Every morning at dawn, we are drawn to the sea shore directly in front of “our” house. It is always a happy moment to experience the awakening of a new day. We watch the swarms of jumping fish gliding like silver arrows over the motionless surface of the lagoon, and the dark silhouettes of the fishing boats far out at sea. Punctually like a clock a group of black bulbul birds is assembling regularly on a dry twig right above our heads, chirping happily into the new day. When the yellow or red ball of the sun rises from the ocean, changing the towering dark clouds into a glowing red and transforming the skies into a fascinating palette of colors – each day in a different one – we feel very privileged to be able to experience this wonder of nature day by day. If in our Taiwan report we mentioned that sunrises usually do not belong to our priorities, Samoa has now completely changed our mind.
70  A tiny uninhabited island is
greeting on the Northeast coast
 71  Scattered hamlets dot the coast
of the Fagaloa Bay in the Northeast.
In the front Taelefaga
72  Forested mountains, luxury vegetation
and palm groves dominate the scenery at the
“Le Mafa Pass“ road in the East of the island
With merely 100 miles of circular road and three North-South-Crossings of totally 50 miles, we decide to divide our island exploration into four daily tours. Equipped with beer, bread, cheese, ham, cucumber and avocado salad in our car refrigerator, we start to our first trip bringing us over the 2’300ft. high Cross Island Pass towards the South and back to the North over the Eastern Le Mafa Pass. A cooler climate is greeting us on the pass of the Cross Island Road, its alpine vegetation and grazing brown cows reminding us of Switzerland. But as soon as we reach the South Coast the intense island feeling returns. The road is narrow and passes through villages with their traditional “Fale” nestling dreamily in lush tropical vegetation. Even the most modest of the dwellings is surrounded by a richness of multicolored plants and flowers.
73  Palm trees stretching down to the
sea in the Northeast. View from the
“Le Mafa Pass” road towards the North
74  School children pose for a picture
together with Liliana near Aufaga
along the Eastern South coast in
front of our LandCruiser
75  Branching off from the
“Le Mafa Pass” road into the
“Richardson Road”, the road winds
along the peaceful Apulilo dam
Mid morning we are already at the lovely Togitogiga waterfall that rushes through tropical scenery into two refreshing pools. We enjoy this lovely place until a group of young Australian surfer joins. Then it is definitely over with the peace and time for us to go on. Shortly after, we arrive at the turn-off of the La Mafa Road leading back North where there is just another impressive waterfall to admire: The 177ft. high Sopoaga embedded in luxury green. Caught by the rays of the sun, it is a wonderful sight.
76  Flowering plants, flowers and
palm trees – the island of Upolu is
a beautiful tropical garden wherever
we drive. Here near Samusu
in the extreme East
77  Children of the Tiavea Primary
School in the East in front of their
school building. Village schools are
always built in the same way and are
embedded in the tropical vegetation
78  The small beach of the deeply
forested Namua Island in the Fareast
District of Aleipata looks promising
Brilliant green surrounds us when we continue our journey through the windy mountain road with vistas over an immense forest of coconut palms stretching as far as to the sea, and mountains with exuberant vegetation. There is only one thing that dampens our enthusiasm: We are really hungry. Up to now we did not find one single place to pull out and eat our picnic. And it is already mid-afternoon. When a narrow road branches off in Falefa towards Fagoloa Bay, we follow it, and when finally we find a spot where the trees have been cleared and the view to the lagoon is free, we just park along the road. There isn’t any traffic anyway. After appeasing our hunger and thirst, we are ready for new adventures.
79  Picnic at Cape Tapaga at
the far Southeastern corner
80  The white sandy beach of
Lalomanu stretches along the
Southeastern corner of the Island
81  Very simple beach accommodation,
known as “Beach Fale”, can be rented
everywhere along the Southeast coast
The mama with her two small children is still sitting on the same spot along the road near the Falefa waterfall and is making skillfully mats out of fresh coconut leaves, when we return to the main road. “They will be used to cover the roof of my newly built “Fale”, she explains. She takes four layers, folds them in the middle over a coconut strip and stitches them together with a natural thread. ”Roofs made out of palm leaves keep the place cooler than corrugated iron”, she tells us. All the same more and more are replaced by tin roofs needing less maintenance. As a gift, she opens a coconut for each of us to enjoy the refreshing water – a lovely gesture. We thank her and are hitting the road again.
82  We enjoy our trip along the
palm fringed Southeast coast. In
Samoa, the roads often run
directly along the sea shore
83  A tiny island, washed by the
waves of the Pacific Ocean, is the last
resting place of the Head Chief of the
village of Aufaga at the Southeast coast
84  A woman is looking for sea
shells at the deserted Faofao Beach
along the Southeast coast
“Once you will be in Samoa, you have to visit also Tokelau”, a lady from New Zealand we met in Fiji recommended us warmly. “There is no airport; there are no roads and no cars. Life is still as it has been 100 years ago”. She talks so enthusiastically about the three small atolls lying North of Samoa, a territory still belonging to New Zealand, that after our arrival in Apia, we immediately apply at the Tokelau Liaison Office for a 10 days visit, from May 19th, to May 29th, what is also granted. However, what I am not really looking forward to is the 20+ hours sea journey on a small wobbly vessel. But finally, it is not going to happen anyway! To be blamed is the recent outbreak of the swine flue, originating in Mexico, and spreading worldwide. The WHO has put the alarm level on No. 5, what made the Government of this remote Pacific archipelago with only 1’500 inhabitants cancel all passenger arrivals until further notice. Understandably: Only two months ago, they were hit by a nasty flue epidemic, having to ask for medical aid from New Zealand. Of course, they do not want to have it repeated worse. For us it is most regrettable; we were really looking forward to this remote place.
Salamumu Beach in the Southwest of the island of Upolu is another place where we stop for the day
Most of the lovely sandy beaches are found on the South Coast, like also the “Return to Paradise Beach” situated in the South West – the destination of our second island tour. It got its promising name from the same named film that was shot here in 1951 with Gary Cooper as main actor following the novel of James Michener. Also today, we particularly enjoy the traditional breezy “Fale” along the road, the beauty of the colorful plants and flowers, the peace and the rural feeling. We watch the fat mother pigs, followed by their battalions of piglets roaming freely and the many scavenging cocks and chicken.
School children are celebrating in the ”Savalalo School Hall” in Apia with lovely dance performances
Mid-morning, we are already approaching the famous beach. Like everything on this island, also here is an access fee to be paid. On a board that stands in the middle of nowhere, the tariffs are clearly marked. Therefore, we give the young man who comes running breathlessly 10 Tala ($3.40). He shakes his head. “It costs 20 Tala” he insists. „You are a minibus“. After a painful discussion, he finally gives in. Either he agrees that we are not a minibus, or he realizes that we will not pay one Tala more than the correct official price.
91  A Banyan tree (fig tree) towers
into the blue sky at Aleisa Heihts, in
the interior of the island West of Apia
 92  Fagaloa Bay in the North East
is known as the wildest and most
beautiful bay in Upolu
93  The Papapapai-tai Fall on the
Cross Island Road is 330ft. high
and plunges into a forested gorge
On Saturdays, the beach usually gets busy with local families. Today, we have the place entirely to ourselves and enjoy the South Pacific atmosphere – the rustling of the coconut palm trees and the turquoise sea. We have almost finished with our picnic when a young guy comes along and offers us each a coconut that he just collected nearby. He joins us and we start talking. But already after a short time he is lamenting that he has no money to feed his two small children. “Not again”, we think. We therefore pay him for the coconuts – which actually we thought to be a gift – three times more than the market price. But he is not satisfied. He still expects us to give him another 20 Tala, what we refuse. Yes, it proves once more – and unfortunately not for the last time – that people all over the world are spoilt everywhere where money has been distributed to them generously – be it by tourists, or like here by a foreign filming company, or in Africa by the passing Paris-Dakar-Rally. When shortly after this intermezzo rain starts to fall, we head back “home”.
94  At low tide, a mud skipper
is crawling on the black
stones on the sea shore
95  Sea cucumber are cut in the
middle with a knife to extract the
edible intestines .....
96  .....that are filled in Coca Cola
bottles and sold at stalls along the road
On our third exploring tour, we only hit new land when we branch off from the Le Mafa Pass to the Richardson Road leading East. We pass the Apulilo dam, nestled into deeply forested hills, and drive through colorful tropical scenery to the Southeasterly corner of the island. Hamlets and small offshore islands dominate the peaceful landscape from Samusu to Cape Tapaga. Exactly where the road turns West again, we spot a narrow piece of land sandwiched between the road and the ocean. There is hardly enough place to park our car. But as it is lunchtime anyway, we decide to make a quick break and eat a bite. The road has very little traffic und we enjoy the lovely sea view. Suddenly a pick-up stops besides us and a woman gets out of the car and walks straight away towards us. Despite that two wheels of our car are still parked on the pavement, she insists in an unfriendly way that this is her land and we have to pay for using it. We have not the slightest desire to get involved in a discussion and clear the place. This is not anymore Samoa as we are used to. Until now we met only friendly people with smiling faces, waving to us and showing a real interest at our epic journey.
97  Cacao fruits .....
98  ..... bread fruit, besides Taro
a main diet of the Samoan people .....
99  ..... and Mangos
And a few minutes later, in Lalomanu, it happens again: Emil is parking at the side of the road and remains seated in the car, while I rush the few yards down to the beach to have a quick look at what the Lonely Planet guide describes to be one of the loveliest beaches in Samoa. I am back in less than three minutes, but Emil already has been questioned by a woman. While pointing to me, she asked Emil: “Where is she going?”. Emil: “She just wants to see what the beach looks like”. Woman: “It is my beach, she has to pay for”. Later we hear of another story that happened also here. At the end of their trip, German tourists in a minibus wanted to drink a beer at the beach restaurant that costs 4 Tala. But they were asked to pay 20 Tala each just for accessing the restaurant. And what happened? The tourists renounced the drink and drove off disappointedly. And this is exactly what we do too. We wonder if this exaggerated behavior is in accordance with any “village protocol” to scare tourist away.
100  A lunch break under a shady
tree near the Apia harbor. Two stray
dogs want to share our food. There
are many of them in Samoa and
surprisingly, they all seem quite well
fed. It’s now tried to get control of
their numbers in desexing them
 101  At the celebration of our
9’000th day on the road around
the world on June 7th, 2009,
Liliana is adorned in the Pacific
style with a fresh flower garland
102  After enjoying a lovely lunch with
Marco, our Swiss Honorary General Consul
in Samoa and his Chilean wife Ines-Maria
– in their remote “farm” at Fasitoouta in
wonderful tropical surrounding – we pose
for a remembrance picture. From right: Emil,
Tautala, Marco, Liliana, Steve, Ines-Maria
We later heard that in the year 2000 the last Camel Trophy – arriving from Tonga – landed here in Lalomanu with their rafts and paid US$1’000 per day to the community for the (TV-) show. Is that the reason why people got so greedy? Despite of those two negative experiences we remain in good mood and enjoy the lovely drive along the seashore. From Lalomanu to Saleapaga the rows of open-air beach houses never end – it is said to have 285. We did not count them! Most of them are empty now. As romantic as it might sound to sleep the traditional Samoan way, we are not attracted to it and are happy to return to our house where we have more privacy.
103  “Our” rented house in Puipaa, where
we spent ten relaxed weeks being in Samoa
104  “Our” nearly flightless Buff-banded
Rail that pleased us daily with its presence
105  Emil at the middle-term planning of our
next trip destinations in “our“ house in Puipaa
Already in Vanuatu the two electrical fuel pumps of our LandCruiser started to make problems. Later in the Fijian capital Suva, it was not possible to find an adequate replacement, not even with the assistance of Toyota. The pump ordered directly by a spare part dealer in Australia turned out to be the wrong one on its arrival. It was a mess, because our good old “buddy” was not even capable to climb any moderate hill anymore. What now? According to the motto: “ Help yourself” Emil climbed to the roof of our car and grabbed seven old pumps out of our spare part aluminum case that he never wanted to get rid off. Taking his time and with his inherited patience, he tried one after the other and – miraculously – two were still working halfway. He built them in, and with this emergency repair we made it even to Samoa. Not that they were failing yet, but they are not very far from it.
106  View over the capital
Apia from Mt. Vaea
107  We are driving passed the
Government Building in Apia
108  Liliana and Emil at a press conference
before leaving for American Samoa
Thus, our fourth and last island tour in Samoa becomes a real nightmare. After spending a relaxed day at the wild Salamumu Beach in the Southwest of the island, we head back over the 2’300ft. high Cross Island Pass. The Southern ascent is considerably steeper than the Northerly one and of course the fuel pumps fail always at the most dangerous, most narrow and most steepest place. Many times we have to roll back considerably to be able to pull out of the road before trying our luck again. To make matters worse, it starts to rain heavily. But in the end we made it by cooling the carburetor with wet rags. Luckily, this problem will soon be solved: In tax-free American Samoa, we will get new ones from the US. And even more “goodies”! A new Lenovo Thinkpad laptop, since our second, more than four years old IBM Thinkpad is on the brink to say goodbye. And a new Panasonic digital camera, after I dropped mine for the second time after Taiwan, with the difference however that this time it is definitively broken.
109  People gather at the traditional
“Fale Fono” (the old Parliament
House) – today one of the breezy
meeting places found all over the island
 110  No – unfortunately we
cannot give you a proper home!
111  Two boys smile at us with happy faces
Exactly one month later, on August 1, 2009, –  returning from Pago Pago / American Samoa on a stopover in Apia on our way to Papeete / Tahiti in French Polynesia via Auckland in New Zealand and Rarotonga on the Cook Islands – we enjoy some of the visited sights once more from the air:
190  The village of Samamea in
the Fagaloa Bay in the Northeast
191  Downtown Apia with the
Government Building and the
Central Bank in the front
192  Both Parliament Houses in the Mulinuu
Peninsula in Apia (rose-colored roof in the
center = new; green roof in the front = old)
193  Downtown Apia from the South,
with the Government Building and the
Central Bank in the front. In the port (back-
ground) "MV Lady Naomi" has docked
194  Main "Latter-day Saints" Temple
at Vaitele Street in Pesega/Apia
195  The Catholic Cathedral in Apia
viewed from its back side. The "Fale"
behind the towers houses the Tourist Office
More websites from Samoa:
Articles in newspapers about us in Samoa:
Article: "Switzerland couple have travelled to 163 countries", Daily Newspaper "Samoa Observer" - April 5, 2009
Article: "World travellers take fond memories", Daily Newspaper "Samoa Observer" - July 1, 2009
Article: "Swiss day celebrated in Samoa", Daily Newspaper "Samoa Observer" - August 4, 2009