Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Off to Samoa

Leaving San Luis Obispo behind was harder than I expected. Over the four and a half years I've lived there, so much has changed that I know a lot will be different when I return. I packed my belongings and said my goodbyes (sorry to those of you I didn't get a chance to see) and was on my way to San Diego to spend a few days with friends and family there before I took off. Before I knew it, I was on the way to the airport ready to begin my journey.

My first stop was only for a few hours in Los Angeles before I boarded my plane for Samoa. I found myself sitting next to very friendly but very large Samoan woman for my eleven hour flight. Needless to say, it wasn’t the most comfortable flight I’ve been on since about five or six inches of my seat were not available. I arrived in Samoa on the 4th of February at bout five in the morning. The warm, humid air smelled sweet as I exited the plane. I found my surfboards and bag relatively quickly and was on my way out the door before I was grabbed by a security guard. He guided me through the airport to a separate area where he told me the dogs liked my bag and asked me if I liked rocks. After spreading all my clothes and belongings out on the table, including pulling my surfboards out of my boardbag, he was satisfied and showed me to a taxi. After a bit of negotiation, we were off for Tafitoala to Sina PJ’s Beach Fales. The hour long drive winded around the eastern coast and I got my first glimpse of the beautiful countryside of Samoa. I was surprised by the amount of stray dogs roaming alongside the small, two-lane street that was lined with trash. For some reason, most Samoans don't seem to care much about litering, even in such a pristine place. When I arrived at Sina PJ's, I was greeted by Malae, Natina, and several of their children (Sina and PJ are two of the five).

Malae is the village chief and has spent his whole life in the small village. The fales are located right on the beach, with water lapping up the shore less than twenty feet from the fales' porches (above is my fale and below is the view from its porch). After settling in a bit, I strolled up and down the beach for a bit before I met the other two guests, Alex and Russell, two Australians from Sydney (hey guys). They said the surf had been pretty good the last few days directly out in front of the fales at an unnamed reef, which I dubbed Jire’s (after Malae’s third child). Most of the breaks in Samoa, particularly on the south coast of Upolu, are outer reef breaks which take either a significant paddle or a boat ride to reach (thus no surf pictures on here). Most surfers who travel here opt to stay at one of several surf camps, which I believe are all run by Australians or Americans, because they have boats and surf guides. I found it odd that many of the surfers ended up at the same surf break that we did.After breakfast, the three of us were shuttled out to Jire’s by Peter, an ex-pat Kiwi (New Zealander) who now lives in the small village. We were greeted by head high waves with offshore winds and no one out. I was the first in the water. Stoked! We surfed for almost three hours before we were joined by two other surfers from a commercialized surf camp, and shortly after by four more. After we surfed for an hour or so longer, we decided we’d had enough and caught the boat back to shore. The rest of the day was spent snorkeling right out in front of the fales in the deep water channel, which was teeming with sealife including at least ten different types of corral and dozens of tropical fish. We headed in to have a delicious dinner prepared by Natina before we settled down to enjoy a few Vailima Samoan Lager beers. Natina prepared three meals a day for us, including taro, chicken, and fresh caught tuna. Every meal had delicious fresh fruit accompanying it, and usually some sort of coconut cream sauce.

2 comments:

  1. SLO is a hard place to leave. I love that town more than i realized even when I lived there. But you know it's just the people and thats why it changes so quickly. and thats why one year it's frog, the next it's mccarthy's, the next it's native. okay, so it was never native, but the point is the love is where the good people are and it kinda sucks everything has to change and everyone spreads out. but it looks like you're living out some awesome dreams and I know i've been getting into some pretty interesting projects. keep posting so i can show keep showing off how sweet my buddy curly is to all these self righteous counter culture wanna be's in SF. Peace brotha, take care of yourself.

    And the stray dog thing is kind of a weird phenomenon. Same thing all over south america.

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  2. One down, only 2 more boards to go, is that right? Damn foolio Wikki would be proud of that ding! Were the reefs as shallow as everyone says they were?

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