Friends Jo Fernandez and Jo Bill were learning how to strip mulberry bark for cloth making.
That’s what they were doing during a demonstration of how tapa cloth is made at the Samoa Cultural Centre, when Dear Tourist spotted them.
They are best friends from different ends of Australia but decided to do a girls trip to Samoa.
Of the duo, Jo Fernandez had been to Samoa before and she raved about it so much to her bestie, Jo Bill, wanted to come see for herself.
So they made the decision to visit and it was perfect timing, as Jo Fernandez was returning to Samoa to fulfill her duties as Godmother to her new Godchild from a family that adopted her on her last trip.
“It’s my first time here and I love it, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Jo Bill said.
“The weather, the people, the country, it is just beautiful. It’s better than I was expecting. It’s more civilised and organised than what I was expecting. The tourist spots are just beautiful, Savai’i is just gorgeous. A standout for me was experiencing sleeping in the open fales, right on the beach.”
For Jo Fernandez, it was a blessing in disguise that she brought her friend because she was sick the first few days of their trip and the other Jo had to fill in as Godmother for her.
Jo Fernandez said it really made her happy that her dear friend was having a good time.
“I was exactly the same as Jo Bill when I first came,” she said, “I loved everything. When I came here last time, we did this the first day (the Samoan Cultural village), whereas this time around, we are doing this on the last day here. Jo would have learnt a lot more on the first day if we had been able to do this, but I was really sick when we first got here so we didn’t get to do it until today. It is just beautiful. To know that Jo Bill loves it here is just great feeling for me because she’s a hard person to please.”
Neither Jo nor Jo could contain their laughter, their cackles only interrupted when Jo Bill got very serious and said she wanted to point something out, asking if she could give a shout out to their tour guide.
“Can I just say, we went out on Manua Tour. We went snorkelling and the turtles in the ocean were fantastic, I recommend it to anybody and tour guides name was Niu. Brilliant service because he went out of his way to find the turtles for us and it was magic. Absolutely magic. We’ve been around both islands completely, and I’d do it again and again and again.”
Jo Bill was so excited that she had to show us her photo album of the sea turtles that she took, saying once again how magical the experience was for her.
“It was a really brilliant day, we went out snorkelling , it was just so good. I wouldn’t like to see Samoa get too commercialised, time is so slow here. You get so much done and the time hasn’t moved. It’s just that relaxing lifestyle. You’re on Samoan time here. “
Both friends, were enjoying their accommodation at Millenia and had some good things to say Said Jo Bill, “If anyone wants to come, stay at Millenia -- the prices of the rooms are good, the bath facilities are good, the cleanliness and staff are brilliant, but as for the food -- be prepared to eat out.”
Both Jo and Jo were enjoying their last day in Samoa and Dear Tourist asked them what they would tell their friends in Australia.
“Start saving,” Jo Bill said. “Yes, definitely we would come back again. Beautiful Samoa is the slogan for a reason -- because it’s beautiful.”