Gord and Sharon Marano are a long way from home.
The couple from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada, found themselves in the South Pacific region for the first time, stumbling on Samoa as their first choice of a vacation destination.
They’ve been married for 41 years and have a 25-year-old daughter.
The Dear Tourist team had to ask, why Samoa.
“Do you want the long story or the short story,” Gord smiled asking.
“Short story, we’re here for a vacation,” Sharon said.
Somehow, Gord had an itch to share his version of why they chose Samoa.
“Long story, I was in New Zealand in 2011 for the Rugby World Cup and I met some Samoan people there and they told me to come visit the island and that I’d love it, so I said yes, maybe one time I will come and here I am with my wife.”
Maybe the story wasn’t that long, but it surely delivered the promise made by his friends he met back then of an island experience.
First on their list was the heat that best describes a trip to the South of the equator, which explains how Sharon was trying to fight off the sweat dripping from her face.
“I’m sweating a lot, the heat, I don’t know why, it gets to 35 at home in the summer, but nothing like this,” Sharon said.
It’s a good thing though for them with Gord explaining: “The heat is probably the biggest challenge; two days ago it was minus 14 back at home, so we’re glad to be here.”
Second was definitely local food and they indicated that oka was their favourite.
“I had raw tuna for the very first time, it was really good,” Gord said.
Sharon added: “Yes, great hospitality, especially at the Manumea where we stay, very kind people with the language, very forgiving.”
Gord enthusiastically interrupted: “I am actually comfortable driving here, it was uncomfortable at first, but now it’s okay.
“Because at home, we drive on the other side of the road and you always have to be on your guard, so that’s why.”
We met them brushing through the Fugalei Market, and we guessed they were possibly looking for souvenirs.
“Yes, looking for souvenirs and we’ll have to be careful with what we pack to take home, we were in New Zealand for two weeks, and we’ve bought some stuff over there too,” Gord said.
They’ve been here for almost a week and they have another 10 days full of planned activities before they bid their farewell.
“We’ve been travelling around Upolu looking for beaches and things, we’ll make a trip to Savai’i and stay overnight and have a look around there before we leave,” Gord said.
The couple wouldn’t change a single thing about the islands.
“I can’t really think of anything, you have a culture and when you come here there are things you have to accept because it’s different and it’s nice to be somewhere different because you have your own customs and values, so for me that’s good,” Gord explained.
And with that mental image of a perfect getaway destination in their minds, you can bet on their promise to return.