Samoa Feb 5, 2016

Apia, Samoa                                                                                       February 5, 2016

Today we landed before Noon in Apia (Samoa’s capital) and spent the afternoon seeing parts of the Island of Upolu. This is a lovely island, and reminded us of St Martin/St Maarten many years ago, before it was developed to its current extent – jagged lava mountains rise high in the sky, and are carpeted with lush vegetation. Reefs and pools of water provide great snorkeling (no, we didn’t snorkel), and there are lovely waterfalls in several places (Joe will post pix if they are worthy). Apia is a city of about 37,000, with a harbor and pier, as well as schools, houses of worship, government buildings and embassies of Australia and USA (there may be others but those are the 2 we saw today).

Samoa is considered the “cradle of Polynesia” and you might already know that Robert Louis Stevenson lived here (and is buried here) after he left Scotland to find a climate more suitable for his tuberculosis.

This afternoon we visited a national park and 2 waterfalls, and took a “coastal walk” which was about as far from a stroll on the Spring Lake boardwalk as you can imagine. A large crowd from the cruise ship took off in 5 or 6 vans run by a local tour company. Small excitements began to occur – one van had a flat tire, one van had all the water bottles and no other van did, another van was pulled over by police and ticketed for running a red light. The drivers seemed to lose communication with each other and common meeting points along the trip were scenes where one van waited and no one else showed up until after the first van left.

None of these little issues was really any problem, but the “coastal walk” (you can tell by my use of quotation marks for a second time how I feel about this tour!) almost turned into a mutiny by the cruise guests. The short trek to some scenic overlooks was fairly treacherous – some of the more energetic guests stopped about 25% of the way through the walk, which caused the less energetic guests to reconsider the entire event. The “paved path” was more of a trail through the forest, complete with lots of fallen trees to step/jump/climb over, and ascents and descents that wound up being a group effort as guides and guests helped each other up and down.

When the entire large cruise group finally got to the same place at the end of the trip, people started asking if they could return early to the ship, since they were hot, weak, exhausted, etc. It took some arguing to convince the tour operators to let people end their excursion 30 minutes early, but it was done (kind of reminded me of a great international convention as people from various countries joined forces to ensure that liberty was had for all).

Now we are back on ship, where tomorrow we cross the international date line. Tonight it is Friday, and tomorrow will be Sunday.   Early next week we will be in Fiji – hope we have some good pictures for you!