Life goes on for the ordinary Samoan as Jaime Annandale peers out of the local bus with loud music blaring in the background.
Just seeing the Pacific Islanders get on with their everyday life is a highlight for Jaime after she flew in on June 27 with her father Glen, who has an uncle living here.
“We hadn’t the chance to come here before and now it was time to see Samoa,” she said.
Armed with time and money, Glen said he took a vacation in order to make the trip.
June, July and August are the coldest months of the year in New Zealand so the trip to Samoa was the perfect getaway to escape the freezing weather.
Jamie lives in Waiheke Island outside Auckland and her dad in Paengaroa. Since they arrived they have visited the family, which is where they are currently staying.
“It was pretty cool, I wanted to see how he looks and I only knew the address in Siusega. I didn’t expect the houses (to be) so western, I don’t know what I expected,” Glen said.
Jamie added: “We didn’t know before and now coming here we understand there are Fales and the Samoan culture.”
They spent five days in Savai’i which they enjoyed more than Upolu.
“It is natural, we were living in the villages, what I guess is the more authentic experience as a tourist, for me I come to experience,” said Jamie.
For Glen, the peace and tranquility of Savai’i appealed to him more than Upolu, as he lives in a quiet community back in New Zealand.
A big part of their activities during their stay has been collecting rubbish for recycling. The amount of rubbish thrown around was shocking for Glen, who likes to promote recycling and recycles as a hobby. As a tourist attraction, Samoa could do better according to the New Zealand resident.
“It is such a beautiful place, but it is just sad to see the rubbish around.”
One event they attended during their holiday was the culture show at the S.T.A. in Apia, which they said they enjoyed. Jaime also has a soft spot for tattoos and she later found out that Samoa is literally a ‘tattooing paradise’.
“I wanted to see the tattooing which is my passion so I sat there for an hour and just watched, it has been really nice. I feel like I related a lot of my style,” she added, before indicating that she will get a tattoo in memory of her visit to Samoa.
As they are staying with relatives here in Samoa, they did not require the services of tourism operators except in Savai’i.
“We found it really easy to get around with the scooter and to organize ourselves. I would recommend that to anyone,” said Jaime.
When discussing tourism and how services could be further improved, Glen said it would help having more food variety otherwise the ‘slow pace’ of the industry made it different from tourist hotspots such as Thailand or Fiji.
“I think there are just little things that you could probably do in terms of tourism, maybe a bit more flexibility with the food. But it is quite nice here at a slow place to not have the same rush as in Thailand or Fiji…I think when you come to Pacific Islands you shouldn’t expect the world, especially where the culture is so rich,” Jaime added
While the father and daughter have relatives in Samoa, the beauty of the country will always draw them back.