Now we’re just kind of biding our time until the Presidential debate. We had some choices after Lalomanu, but we really wanted to be certain we’d be in a place with good TV coverage so we could watch the debate on September 26 (though here in Samoa it’s on September 27, which makes it a little confusing to plan for). Since there’s a Sheraton in Apia, Samoa’s capital city, we figured we would stay nearby and check in there for the debate.
In the meantime, we spent four days at a brand new resort on tiny Taumeasina Island just outside of the city. That was a mistake. The new resort is all shiny and comfy and the pools are nice, but it utterly lacks personality and has little of the tropical landscaping that makes the area so beautiful. We’re in Samoa, but it feels as though we could be at any resort anywhere. I know, this is not the worst problem anyone has ever faced (I’m reading a history of D-Day and the Battle for Normandy right now, and that would be worse) but there’s just not much going on in or around Apia for excitement. We have managed to find some good food – a nice Italian place where all the waiters seem to be gay and a great, local lunch place near our hotel. Otherwise this four-day stay was kind of a waste.
So absent anything interesting to say, here are some interesting facts about Samoa
- The island group, including what is now American Samoa, was historically known as the Navigator Islands. If you’re reading a history of the age of exploration and are confused about where they are, that’s why.
- The country – technically the Independent State of Samoa – was known as Western Samoa until 1997, when it dropped the “Western” part of its short-form name.
- On September 7, 2009, the country changed driving laws to require driving on the left-hand side. Since so many cars on the island come from New Zealand, where they drive on the left, they figured they’d just bite the bullet and make the change. Apparently there were limited problems in the aftermath. Imagine, though, trying to make that change in the U.S. Yikes!
- Just three weeks after that change, though, there was a devastating tsunami that hit the southern coast of ‘Upolu.
- There was no December 30, 2011, in Samoa. Instead, on December 29 the country switched from the eastern side of the International Date Line to the western side and just skipped over December 30. The original positioning on the eastern side of the date line was made in the 19th century to facilitate trade with California, but these days most of the country’s economic relationships are with New Zealand and Australia. Nothing like throwing off those imperialist shackles!
- Strangely, Samoa appears to observe daylight savings time. We woke up on Sunday morning to discover that it was an hour later than we thought it should be. (As we’re a bit south of the equator, this is the start of spring in the temperate zones so they “spring forward.”) From our experience it’s unusual for a country in the tropics, where the sun rises at 6:00 AM and sets at 6:00 PM pretty much year-round, to switch to daylight savings time. It must be, though I’m just guessing, that they make the change here at the same time New Zealand changes so they remain always on a fixed clock vis a vis their primary economic partner. And the really bizarre part is that now we’re 25 hours ahead of American Samoa. So when it’s 12:30 AM on September 26 here, it’s 11:30 PM on September 24 there, seemingly two full days away!
That’s all the excitement from Samoa. Waiting for the debate, then a couple more days on the island, including one night in a tree house. Yup, a tree house. We’ve had lots of time here to sketch out the rest of our time in the South Pacific and for now, at least, it looks as though from here we’re going to Fiji, Tonga and then New Caledonia. After all these years of not getting to the South Pacific we’re finally making up for lost time.