Family roots brought Maevaga Ofe from Auckland, New Zealand to Samoa.
Until last Sunday, she has never set foot on the island.
Maevaga is half Chinese and Samoan, and both of her parents grew up in Samoa.
She described herself growing up surrounded with the Samoan way and in a Pacific Island community in New Zealand.
It was her curiosity to know more about her family ties to Samoa after her dad passed away that prompted her visit.
Her parents left Samoa to live in New Zealand for about 55 years.
“When I came out the airport and I saw all the buildings, I was like now I get my father. When we are here now we understand Samoan mentality and now you see it,” Maevaga said.
“I understand my father’s fascination of buildings, now I know why he was so fascinated with bright colours and stones. My father just collected stones and I didn’t know why and here when I see them around the street I understand. Also with money sent to members of the village when I see the need, now coming here I understand why,” she told the Dear Tourist team.
Maevaga acknowledged the eye-opening experience she’s had during her visit.
Maevaga came with two relatives and the first few nights they stayed at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
“I think they maybe need to provide more choices of island food because it was what I was expecting and I haven’t seen anything yet. In the hotel it’s been more European food and I personally didn’t want that. In terms of service it’s been wonderful, I really like it there,” she said.
The balance of cultural experience and luxury is in her opinion good for tourists to come and enjoy.
“My uncle took me to his home and going to a real Samoan home and the way of living there is very different and simple and with the opportunities to stay in fales it’s good for people to see. The cultural show is awesome and it’s good to share this,” she said.
Maevaga managed to find what she was looking for in Samoa.
“It makes you feel even more proud to be Samoan. I am not only lucky enough to not only stay in a comfortable hotel and enjoy the hotel life, but at the same time I have actually seen what it is like for locals,” she said.
She plans to visit some family members before she leaves.