“We wouldn’t change a thing about Samoa.”
So says Rachel Savage, a kindergarten teacher from Ashburton New Zealand.
When she caught up with the Dear Tourist yesterday, she was asked if there was something she would like to see improved in Samoa for tourists.
Rachel and her family were doing some last minute gift shopping at the Fugalei markets at the end of their ten-day holiday.
Earlier in the year, Rachel was trying to decide where her family would get away for a mid-winter vacation.
She was spurred on by the recommendations of her family and friends about the untouched beauty of Samoa and the charm of her people.
And in Samoa, she has not been disappointed.
“We had the most amazing experience, we had beautiful fales, beautiful food we just loved it,” she said. “The people were very open with us, a lot of the fale owners were really responsive to having us there and let us in to experience their families and their lives.”
Rachel talked about their very interactive holiday and their intentions to get out of the car and have a hands-on experience in Samoa.
Together the Savage family bike gang (including her 73-year-old mother in law) left their car behind in Upolu and biked all around Savai’i, staying in various hostels and hotels from Manase to Vaisala to Saletoa.
“We love biking and we got to see the island at a much slower pace. We got to meet people and our guides gave us lots of information so we learnt heaps and it was much better than being in a car.”
As an early childhood educator, Rachel was interested in learning more about Samoa beyond the usual sightseeing attractions and through her interactions with local guides she gained more understanding about the schooling, the role of Matai and the church within the village.
“We loved it so much, we are definitely coming back,” she says enthusiastically.
We left the Savage family as they shopped for presents to gift Rachels kindergarten students, some of whom are children of Samoan descent and according to Rachel have never visited Samoa.
“Some of them have never been back here and I just want them to feel connected with a little something special from the country of their heritage.”