Walking from their accommodation at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, the Juarez family was taking a mid-morning stroll along the waterfront.
Dear Tourist met them midway to their destination in front of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel
“We are looking for an art gallery that’s by Legends Café and we are told that this was the direction to head in,” said Nicki.
Dear Tourist knew exactly where to direct the family but before they continued on, we chatted with them about their Samoa travels so far.
We even got a lesson on Spanish as Mr. Juarez is a native of Argentina.
In Spanish, he told us: “Buenisimo! (awesome).”
“Our holiday has been spectacular in Samoa.”
In a story that can only to be explained as an exception and not the rule, Nicki Juarez (a New Zealander) met her now husband, Rodolfo in Argentina. As luck would have it, Rodolfo turned out to be Mrs. Juarez’s taxi driver during her travels.
So far the family is one week into their two-week holiday and Mrs. Juarez gets stuck right into the food aspect of their travels and she lamented at the fact that they had missed out on the Oka Festival last Saturday.
“Yeah we are enjoying the food,” she said, “we’ve found a really good Chinese restaurant but we’ve yet to eat much Samoan food so we are hoping tomorrow night that we are going to a Samoan dinner because we were sad that we missed the Oka Festival because I love raw fish.”
“So next time we come back we are going to make sure that’s on the agenda because for tourists in the hotels, it’s quite hard to find the Samoan food unless you go out and really look for it.”
Mrs. Juarez pointed out that she saw a gap for authentic Samoan food that tourists are looking for when they come to Samoa and that in the hotels there is not much difference to the food faire in New Zealand and what’s on offer at their accommodation.
“What I’m looking for is real authentic Samoan food and people playing with the ingredients because I cant believe how good they are – you’ve got everything here to have a spectacular cuisine but yet there is a lot of Hawaiian pizzas going on here,” she laughs.
“Which is kind of a crime when you’ve got things like raw fish and palusami.”
She added that tourism has changed and people are looking for quality authentic food and experiences.
“People have travelled a lot and they know good quality and the Samoan stuff is the quality stuff - not the stuff brought over here from NZ. That’s what we are looking for. I was even thinking of buying a whole fish and secretly finding a cook at the hotel to make something of it but I might get in trouble.”
“In the menus in the hotels we’ve been to places for dinner or lunch - you find stuff on there from any old place in New Zealand. But very heavy on the grease and yet there are actual fresh ingredients here which are amazing like the fresh turmeric and ginger.”
Mr. Juarez joining in the conversation at this point in his very limited English asked Dear Tourist, “Why are the people of Samoa not swimming? Too much hot?”
“When we went around the island, I was looking for people out fishing or diving or something so that I could go out and see how they do it but I didn’t see anyone,” explained Mrs Juarez.
“Could it be because of the holidays? We saw a lot of poverty too especially when we were out in the outskirts and I’m a teacher so that really jumps out at me.”
According to Mrs. Juarez, aside from the abundance of fresh produce and ingredients readily available at our disposable to make some amazing local cuisine, we have something else that’s as equally valuable and rare,
“I can see that there is a market for like the handmade bags here, I don’t see a lot of weavers around my point of view. In New Zealand these would sell for very expensive but I don’t see many people do it here. I bought one a year and a go in New Zealand for $150 nzd dollars but it only lasted me 2 years but I see the ones here are really well made and they are really fine stuff selling for quite cheap.”