A pilgrimage to find paradise

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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ON YOUR BIKE: Matthias Schoele bikes his way through Samoa.

ON YOUR BIKE: Matthias Schoele bikes his way through Samoa.

Dreams can come true. Many moons ago when Matthias was a child and the Pacific was just a place that existed on a map and in his imagination, he never thought he would make a pilgrimage of sorts to this side of the world. 

Matthias has been on an eight week trip around the Pacific with Samoa being his last stop and he has found it to be all that he imagined it to be. 

Dear Tourist find him strolling through the Samoan Cultural village with his bike helmet looking very relaxed and eager to open up to us about how he ended up on this side of the world.

 “It was a dream of mine, When I was a child in my youth and plus in October of last year we had very bad weather in Germany it was rainy, cold and grey and I thought i would like to go to a warm island and so I remember to my dreams when I was a child and i always looked to maps about South Pacific like Polynesia and Melanesia so I started to organise this travel.

“I am very interested in history and geography. I had always in my head some thinking how is it on these islands. I read books about James Cook and other seaman who travelled around the Pacific. My first impression of Samoa was - it is the real Paradise of the South Sea.”

Dear Tourist asked Matthias to elaborate on what “Paradise” means to him and others in Europe and it seems that while Matthias was island hopping his ideas on what was paradise evolved each time he left an island. 

 “At first I thought paradise was all about beach, palms, and white sand but its more - much more,” he said. 

“Fiji was my first trip to the South Pacific, at first I thought Fiji was real South Sea paradise BUT then I went to New Caledonia and I saw that it was a very beautiful landscape, its so beautiful there but very expensive and you can feel a lot of influence from Europe especially from France. 

“Next then I travelled to Vanuatu and I said yes, its much more paradise than New Caledonia. Then I came back to Fiji from Vanuatu and I realise that no, Fiji is not really paradise - Fiji has many tourists and all of Fiji is developed for Tourism. But when I came to here, that’s when I said. Yes this is REAL paradise. Beautiful landscape, friendly people and not so much tourism. It’s not so highly developed.”

Matthias is a free spirit who prefers to see our country side on his bike and stick to local authentic foods rather than buy what’s on offer at restaurants.

 “I’m travelling with my bike. I’m travelling all around the world with my bike, I have all my luggage on my bicycle and so I travelled around this island. I started last Sunday in Apia to go around Upolu. I travelled around the South Coast, I saw many friendly people and they are in connection with nature.

“I like the food here. I tried oka, I like seafood. I also like taro and palusami. 

“It’s wonderful, it’s quite tasty. All around in the restaurants there are tourists and all they order is chips. I don’t want chips, I can have that at home.

“Maybe I will try lobster and sashimi. When I was driving from the airport to here on first arrival; I thought to myself I need to create a book with only pictures of churches from Samoa. They are so beautiful and so many churches, every village with a church sometimes more than one church.”

Matthias is sad that his eight week Odyssey of the Pacific is coming to an end and he regrets that his English is not very good to say more on his impressions of Samoa but he also admitted that even in his native tongue he would find it hard to describe the beauty of Samoa and that many times when he has sent pictures to his family, they have no words because he did not have the right words to describe.

 “From all islands, I send messages and photos from here to my family. The last days I send not so much words, just pictures and I could only just say “it’s beautiful.” It’s difficult to bring my feeling to words. Especially because my English is not too good. I have so many impressions in my head but I can’t quite get it out.”

Our German traveller can also tick one more thing off his wish list and it was also another reason why he left Samoa till last.

 “I was at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. This was also something that was a part of my youth because I read the book 

“Treasure Island” and I always wanted to go to this museum. So I am here and I rode my bicycle up to the museum and it was so great because I bought two books, one for myself and the other for my nephew.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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