We're scheduled to arrive in Apia at 8am this morning. With no tendering, this should be simple. The only problem we see is that our CC tour person John, unlike others, has provided no details regarding who and where to meet after disembarking. We have our usual breakfast and exit the ship just after 8am. We see no one with any tour signs. I walk around and ask and when I approach what appears to be a tour guide and ask about our trip, he says, "This is it. Where are all your people?" Hey buddy, I'm not running this thing. Two by two, our group slowly finds us and gathers at the bus. This tour has been full for several months but apparently, unbeknownst to the tour operator, John has added people on his own so now there isn't enough room and the operator, Shadow, calls for another van. Meanwhile, our van is full so we go for a ride around Apia while the extra van is loaded and joins us.
Lying under palms and huge umbrella trees, Apia looks as you have always imagined a South Sea town should look. Substantial buildings and shops line the main road along the seafront.
As with most Pacific Island capitals, Apia is a little shabby and run down, small in size and with few obvious attractions. The traditional center is the town clock, a World War I memorial and traffic circle which we drove around. The final resting place of writer Robert Louis Stevenson, Apia still houses his former home which we also drove by. Apia was founded in the 1850s and has been the official capital of Samoa since 1959. The harbor was the site of an infamous naval standoff in 1889 when 7 ships from Germany, the US, and Britain refused to leave the harbour when a typhoon was approaching, for fear of losing face. All the ships were sunk, except for one British cruiser. Nearly 200 American and German lives were lost.
We travel in tandem along the coast, stopping at Pudding Rock for a stretch. Even in the drizzle, it's a beautiful site, despite garbage I see dumped off the edge of the cliff. Same problems, different country. Mom stays in the bus and we head Sopo'aga Falls and Botanical Gardens. The site overlooks falls as they plunge down into a gorge surrounded by jungle. It's beautiful but sits in the distance with no access. Samoans demonstrate how to open a coconut and access the fruit inside. This makes for a good video. Next we see the Sua Trench. There's a large hole about 100' deep where people can climb down and swim in the water. One guy dives off a platform about half way down while we're there. I would have gone down but there's not enough time and I have no company. We take a few pictures on the grounds above the surf and leave.
We make several other stops on our way to Tafatafa Beach where our lunch is waiting for us. The food is prepared at a hotel and warmed up on a beachside grill. On the menu is pork sausage, chicken legs, rolls, salad, fruit, potato salad and cold water. The Samoan boys saw an opportunity to make some extra cash by buying two cases of Samoan beer and selling them to us. Sounds good but they didn't think about chilling them first. Sales were $0 and Shadow scolded them for even attempting the idea. I'm sure she'll try it next time, just cold beer instead. The rain threatens now and then and Shadow informs us that we're lucky for having the clouds, otherwise it would be very hot. Even so, it's in the mid 80s and quite comfortable. Actually, perfect weather for a old beer.
Mom tries a coconut and Shadow collects money from us all. The amount per person has changed over the last dew months, based in part on the number of attendees and ranged from $94 to $99 depending on when you last looked. We brought $200 and gave it to her but others were demanding change, even $1. Almost everyone took their change. These are the same people that are booking world cruises. Unbelievable. After everyone squares up with Shadow, we work our way back to the ship, making several stops along the way at Papapapaitai Falls and Sinalei Resort. These falls are again off in the distance and not accessible. At the resort, we walk around the place for 20 minutes, allowing a restroom break for those in need. All along the way we see typical Samoan homes and they are generally very similar. Everyone has an open covered patio structure, some free standing, others attached. People lay outside on mats. They have furniture like couches and TVs. What a place for TJ.
On the way down the mountain towards Apia, we can see our ship in the harbor. We drive though the grounds of the R. L Stevenson property. Arriving back at the port, there's time for Mom to make a quick pass at the concessionaires dockside. She finds a Samoan shirt and a turtle bowl. Onboard, we head to our stateroom. It's decided we're not going to our usual sit down dinner and settle for the buffet upstairs, trying the spaghetti. Then it's off to a comedy/juggler act at 7:15pm. We top off the evening in the Crow's Nest listening to the band and capitalizing on Happy Hour with two Piña Coladas. We get to add that hour of sleep back in that we lost before and tomorrow is a sea day. I'm see there's no internet so I'll save that for later.