Friday, August 23, 2013

Catching up again

Seems like being at the Marina is a big distraction from writing the blog.

So Sunday turned into a sewing day. Re-covered one of our throw cushions in the cockpit, and put hems in two pieces of material I am using to cover the settees. The settee cushions are pretty much in need of replacing, so i am hoping covering them will help them last and also covers are easy to clean. After that we went for a walk. Found a couple of supermarkets open - got bread and eggs and scoped out stuff we might want for later. Then put up the sunshades in the rain. That way we were able to keep some hatches open. It is really hot in Samoa, and having to close up the boat makes it miserable.

Monday we went in search of a connection for power for the boat. i won't bore you with the details of 240 vs 110 and 50 hz vs 60 hz and transformers etc. Suffice it to say we hit 4 hardware stores and had no luck finding what we were looking for, we did however manage to spend 80 Tala on the taxi and get our propane filled. So, not too bad. Later that day the marina electrician came by and he and Dennis decided we could do what we needed with an extension cord and some parts Dennis already had. So, that afternoon, we walked back to town to the fresh market, the grocery store, caught a taxi to haul all our stuff back to the boat, and stopped by ACE on the way back to the marina. Pricey things 30 meter extension cords! That night we had a potluck on the dock - very nice until it rained.

Tuesday we rented a car and did a tour of the west end of the Island. First stop was the Robert Louis Stevenson house. I knew he wrote Treasure Island, but didn't know he wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Good to learn new things. The house had been renovated thanks to a hefty donation from some guy from the US I think. Any way, RLS only lived in Samoa 4 1/2 years before he died - of consumption (TB?). But in that time the Samoans came to love him and he ended up being buried here and his wife's ashes too. From there we went to the Baha'i temple (one of 8 in the world). Beautiful grounds, interesting architecture. Next was the tallest waterfall - thankfully seen from the pullout, so no hiking in the rain. The road was taking us up through the rain forest to the other side of the Island. The side that was hit hardest by the Tsunami. More lush vegetation, narrow roads, each village had at least one church. I read somewhere that Samoa has enough seating for the entire population of the south Pacific - I believe it! Our next stop was a small water fall with a swimming hole. Josh and I waded some, seems like it would be a great place for a picnic on a sunny day - lots of mosquitos though. Next was finding a lunch stop. Finally around 1330 we stopped at Samoan Beach Hideaway Resort. Very quiet - but beautiful location if you wanted to get away from it all. After that the road stayed on the coast and we passed some nice beaches, turned the corner at the south western tip and headed back towards Apia. Again up into the hills and then down to the coast. We stopped at the cave pool, but it was closed. It was raining again so we passed up the black sand beach. We were almost back to the boat when Dennis jokingly said "Pizza for dinner?" We said sure, and the next place we saw was a pizza place. Yippee! We got it to go.. Wouldn't go out of my way to go there again, but it certainly filled the hole at that point. That evening we went to a firedance show across the street at the ice cream shop (yes, the one that sells beer and wine and icecream - hey it works for me!). it was amazing!! They are a group whose purpose is to keep traditional dancing alive.

Wednesday, we were up and at it by 730, Dennis drove us to the grocery store for final provisioning, then he took the groceries back to the boat and returned the car. I went to immigration (didn't open until 0900), then the digicel place (modem wouldn't work in Fiji, so we are sticking with the wifi for now), then back to immigration, then to the market to buy Josh a sulu or lavalava with pockets. From there I walked back to the boat, then went to pay our marina bill (so nice to sit in a/c), then customs (not so nice waiting outside), then back to the boat. Internet had been crappy all day, and Dennis had been working on the ground wires to the boat and the transformer (again the details are confusing) he finally got it so we were making hot water - yay! We decided to stay one more day to wait for a little more wind to fill in.

So, Thursday we went to the Tourist center to see demonstrations of traditional Samoan culture. The kavakava ceremony, how they use hot rocks to cook the taro and fish. My new favorite food is taro leaves with coconut milk wrapped in either breadfruit or banana leaves and cooked - YUM! I guess that traditionally the men cooked. Then we saw them make tapa - cloth made from mulberry tree bark. Ya, now I know why the men offered to cook - it is a lot easier than making tapa. Poor woman only made one strip and she was wiped out. We bought a piece with a turtle on it - Hope we can find a frame in Fiji. Next was wood carving, then the tattoo hut. Another very interesting custom. The men get tattooed from their waist to the knees - front and back. It is an excruciatingly painful process - takes days. It is all about courage - to take the pain and to accept the responsibility for caring for the family (the extended family, serving the chief and the community). Chris (our host) said that sometimes men would commit suicide after the first or second day because they could not bear the pain or the shame of not completing the tattoo. Kind of a harsh custom. Even now men and women are flown to NZ septic - some die, others need skin grafts etc. That may be a hard tradition to keep alive. Not my idea of a good time. Women only get them on the thighs - front and back. The tattoos themselves are all about the family and the service. It was interesting to note that you can only be a tattooer if you are from the family that does tattooing. So, no quitting my day job just yet!!

From there we were served the lunch that we were shown how to cook earlier, and they did some traditional dancing and showed how they started fires (before lighters). All in all it was three hours well spent. In the afternoon Dennis finished up on the transformer, and I started stowing things on the boat. Josh has been busy cranking out biology -as the internet here has been the best we have had so far. We had happy hour on the dock and then took down the awnings and stowed them in preparation for an 0700 departure today.

Sadly, neither Dennis nor I slept well, but we did manage to get off the dock by 0730. We had a pretty good downwind run (poled out jib and single reefed main) and had our anchor down here in Matautu by about 1600. Steak and broccoli and rice for dinner with coconut taro from the security guard at the dock. Yum. i was not a great mom today - poor josh got a bar for breakfast, and goldfish and chex mix for lunch. Dennis wasn't feeling well, so went down around 1100 and slept until 1500, I was tired at about 1230, so Josh came up and sailed us the rest of the way here. Dennis and i got up in time to help him with sails. We got our daily rinse just as we started to enter the anchorage, so circled for a while until it passed. After that - smooth as silk. Anchor down first try.

We are getting internet here too!! A breeze and no mosquitos - just about perfect. I love the marina for the power, unlimited water, internet and the ability to get on and off the boat and go visiting. We had a great group there too. Many we will see in Fiji and New Zealand. We met a couple from Auckland, and after talking with them, we are rethinking our plan to go to Tonga. May not work out as sailing 400 miles up wind is not my idea of a good time, and Fiji is very strict that once you check out, you have to be out right away - and no stops along the way as you are leaving. So, we will see. In the meantime, we will spend at least tomorrow here and then maybe go to the anchorage at Asau or may be just head to Fiji (my vote). I will let you know.

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