“Samoa is part of the same globe, yet it is uniquely its own.”
That’s the first impression of Samoa by American tourist, Miranda Gothard.
She was responding to a couple of questions from the Samoa Observer about her experience in Samoa. What do you really think? Do you think Samoa is paradise?
Ms. Gothard said she loves Samoa. The beach fales, the green coconuts and the friendly people are the most obvious features.
She is equally impressed by the development.
“I could not imagine that in Samoa I could walk around checking my Facebook and stopping at a McDonald’s restaurant,” she said.
“The westernization of Samoa in certain areas is almost overwhelming.“
Yet, she believes Samoa is remarkably special in its own ways. This is something she will remember when she returns home.
“There is no looking down on the true aiga experience.
“When the family takes you in and they set you up on Sunday with a fine to’onai, you are on the mat eating saka and taro and ufi and enjoying the best of food made with love.
“That is the Samoa I love. It’s just so beautiful.”
Lynette Nixon, from Sydney, agrees.
She is fascinated about the simple Samoan lifestyle and cultural beliefs.
“The way they incorporate the living and the dead. They live the religion. It is openly displayed and sacred,” she said.
Compared to western countries, Mrs. Nixon notes that Samoan people are happy with what they have – little or much.
“Back home, stress and hectic days play an important part of daily life.”
Here in Samoa, Mrs. Nixon says nobody seems aggressive or angry at any time.
Instead people are helpful and kind, Glenys Burgess from New Zealand reports.
It doesn’t mean life in Samoa is all roses.
Mrs. Burgess, who has been to other pacific islands before visiting Samoa, says people are quite poor in many basic things.
“The villages definitely need more resources and adequate infrastructure,” she said.
Mrs. Nixon agrees.
“A lot of money seems to be going out of the island, rather than being used for the people.”
Mrs. Gothard has been on the island since May but has to leave soon. “The downfall is the rigmarole you have to go through to stay here. I am only leaving because my work visa was denied,” she said.
Overall, all of them are enjoying Samoa’s beautiful scenery.
Mrs. Gothard loves to hike up mountains passing rivers and waterfalls and Mrs. Hyatt especially liked Cape Tapaga during her four-day stay.
But they also believe there is a lot that can be done to take Samoa to the next level.
“I think Samoa needs to improve the tourism industry.
“A cruise vessel arrived this week and most everyone wandered around not knowing what to do, why to do it or how to do it.
“Without the global standard of information available with smartphone, internet, youtube and social media, there is almost no justification on a global scale to come to Samoa.
“It is either a haphazard accident or a fluke of random desire.“
Mrs .Burgess also criticizes the way the tourism industry is handled.
“It is a challenge getting information about places and directions.”