Cruisin’ Western Samoa

I completely forgot to mention that the day before we got to American Samoa, we cross the Equator. Despite the lack of an actual “speed bump” as the captain put it, the entertainment staff put a lot of effort into the Crossing the Line Ceremony. In order to receive permission from Neptune to cross the line, the officers and crew members had to compete in a series of pool games. We got there early to get a good seat, and this was our view…

Crossing the International Dateline

It sounded like it was a lot of fun, and I guess it worked because the ship was able to continue to Samoa. Neptune, that nice deity, left official paperwork in our room proving we had his permission to cross the Equator. He definitely has a cartoon image of himself.

Crossing the Equator

The day after American Samoa, we crossed the International Date Line. I didn’t feel a speed bump this time either. However, I can officially say “Hello from the future!” And, I think crossing that line makes me one day younger…

The day after we lost a day (you have to think about that one), we docked in the capital of Samoa, Apia. Oh Apia. Where to start? Should I start with getting harassed by cab drivers and peddlers the second we stepped off the boat, or should I mention the dirty streets? After a pleasant visit to Pago Pago, Apia was a shock. We were docked in the middle of the capital, and the closest beach was over an hour away by taxi. I know that beaches aren’t everything, but they are the main reason Ben and I take cruises. We like beaches. And, sure, we’ve been harassed in Mexican and Caribbean port towns; but Pago Pago wasn’t like that, and we were expecting someplace similar to Pago Pago.

The fact that peddlers are (usually) trying to sell something does not bother me. I completely respect them for making a living for themselves. What bothers me is the way I end up treating them. It goes like this:  The first few people to approach me, I look in the eye and politely say “No, thank you.” If they don’t take no for an answer, then I say “No, thank you” again and walk away. If someone follows me, then the “No” gets a little more firm. If that person continues to follow me, then I just ignore him or her. This happens over and over until I eventually stop making eye contact all together, and that’s not good. At the point when I completely ignore the person (no matter what he/she is selling), I feel like I am no longer treating that person like a human. In my mind and my actions, the person has become a pest. Nobody deserves to be treated that way.

We walked all the way to town with our heads down. Outside of the port, there was a nice walkway with a great view of the ship.

Western Samoa

Western Samoa

Unfortunately, the town was lacking. It was crowded, dirty, and filled with flea-market-type shops. I hate to say that I didn’t even take a photo of the place. I wish I would have, because it would help explain my experience. If you decide to search Google images, don’t beleive what you see. I mean, yes, Apia may look kinda okay…

Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Apia

Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Apia

….from far away.

Since, we aren’t shoppers or hagglers, we decided to walk back to the boat.

We weren’t quite ready to get on board, so we walked passed the ship to the other side of the port. The road continued around a corner, and we followed it. Near the end of the road, we found a serene, grassy beach with very few people. We ate a snack, took a couple of photos, and pet a neighborhood dog (to the dismay of an older Australian man*).

Western Samoa

There was a guy who was thoroughly enjoying the view (enough to make me check my attitude toward the island), and I couldn’t help but take his photo…

Western Samoa

*This isn’t completely relevant, but it deserves to be mentioned. We were chatting with a couple from Australia about the “dangers” of living in Australia (I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of Australian wildlife horror stories). The man was assuring us that Australia isn’t as scary as everyone makes it out to be. In the middle of the conversation, a neighborhood dog walked up to us. You could tell the dog was well cared for: He was friendly, clean, well-fed and had no signs of mange or fleas. I bent down to pet him, and the man flipped out. FLIPPED OUT.

“What are you doing?” he said.
“He seems like a nice dog.” I said.
“No, DO NOT pet stray dogs. They’re dangerous.” he added.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.

He went on a 5 minute spiel about how the worms on that “mangey” dog would eat out my eyeballs and ultimately kill me.

“Hmmm, that’s interesting,” I replied as I pet the dog.

Really, sir? How do you argue with that? It was bizarre. I held the giggles in, pretended like I was interested in his explanation, and made a mental note to forget everything he’d said about Australia. The guy lives in the Outback, and he’s terrified of a clean, domesticated dog. Sometimes, I just want to call people out; but, no, I think I’m just too respectful. The second we got out of earshot, Ben and I just cracked up.

Between the sweet dog and the okay beach, it wasn’t a disappointing day after all. We stopped at a small restaurant near the ship and tried fresh fish and the local beer. It wasn’t bad at all.

In Apia’s defense, I heard wonderful things about the rest of the island; and I feel really bad about saying bad things (oh, Tara’s conscience), because I’m sure there are a ton of people who love it. Plus, the locals we encountered outside the port were extremely pleasant. While our friends on the cultural tour weren’t impressed, we heard there were a few beach spots worth visiting if you had the money and time to do so.

P.S. I uploaded Ben’s two-minute snorkeling highlight video to the last post. Check it out if you get a second, or…um…two minutes.