Lockdown in Samoa? Not really says Jewish man

What is the best way to spend the coronavirus pandemic border shutdown?

Ask 45-year-old Jewish, Yigal Dadoun, and he'll tell you that it's being able to spend every one of those days on a beach and fishing.

The Jewish father of four, who is from Dallas Texas, U.S.A., has been in Samoa for 58-days and counting. 

Initially, he was supposed to be in Samoa for five days. 

However, because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic and the lockdown that followed, he was forced to make the choice of extending his stay in Samoa.

"I was in New Zealand before coming to Samoa," he told the Samoa Observer. 

"I have been traveling around the world and my trip to Samoa was planned and booked last year.

"I came here originally for only five days in Samoa. I was in Upolu for a few days before I came to Savai’i. I went back to Upolu as I was supposed to fly out to Spain at the beginning of March but the situation got really bad in Spain with the corona-virus spreading so fast there. 

"The plan was that I travel to Spain for a few days before I got to Israel, but then again, things were not good there in Spain and Israel and I did not want to take any risk. Therefore, I decided to stay in Samoa and extend my stay here so I came back to Savaii as I find it more relaxing."

Despite being stuck in Samoa, Yigal admits that he has no regrets. 

"I did not plan to stay here this long," he said. "I am happy that I found my home away from home here in this place."

In saying that, Yigal says his stay in Savai’i was amazing with loneliness the only problem he tries to cope with. 

He said Samoa and her people remind him of South America. 

"The people are warm and friendly, just like some of the communities in South America. When I first arrived, the buses here and how everyone are on top of each other reminded me of South America. 

"Also the strong culture and people here are similar to that of South America. I have enjoyed my stay in Savai’i.

"For us Jewish, we had passover and there are certain foods that we are not allowed to eat, and the people I stay with here in Savaii, especially here at Janes, were kind enough to accommodate my needs and make sure that I am well taken care of. 

"I've spoken to some of my friends back home and they envy me that I am stranded on a beach enjoying all the free time I have in a place that is corona-virus free. 

"The only problem for me is that I feel lonely and alone most of the time. But the peaceful and the quietness in Savaii kind of compensate for that lonely time."

Samoa is the first Pacific Island Yigal has traveled to after visiting over 100 different countries around the world. 

"Samoa is now the longest country I have stayed out of more than a hundred countries I have traveled to," he added.

"I was traveling around and when I was in Australia and New Zealand, I wanted to visit one of the countries in the Pacific. So I looked at Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands, and Samoa. 

"So I decided to visit Samoa based on the reviews online. I booked my flight and planned my trip to Samoa back in September before the measles outbreak.”

 Yigal said he was glad to be in Samoa as the people are nice and friendly, and used as an example, his interaction with a fisherman he met. 

"I'm glad to be here, Samoans are very nice and friendly people. I met a fisherman at the beginning of this week and invited me to go out fishing with them and we were able to catch some big fish,” he said. 

"We spent almost the whole day out in the sea fishing. They gave me two big fish and I insisted on paying for the fish, but they refused to accept the money. I am having the time of my life and a once in a lifetime relaxation; I made a good move to stay here.”

Admitting that his biggest challenge is loneliness, Yigal said he is always on his laptop doing work, though he left most of his stuff in New Zealand as he only planned to visit Samoa for five days.

"So I have been away from everything, no tv, no wifi, no Netflix, no computer, and no work. The good thing that comes out of that is that I got a break from the digital world and have so much free time on my hand than I've ever had in my life,” he said.

"I got to meet a few locals and got to go around and tour the island. I spend time exploring, hiking, traveling around the island, fishing and so many different activities."

However, the highlight of his stay thus far was when he tutored the students of Manase during the five-week lockdown. 

"That is an experience I will always remember and be happy about," he said smiling. 

"I wanted to do something useful to impact the lives of the people who have been nice to me here, so I offered to tutor English for free. 

"So for five weeks during the lockdown, I have been carrying out English tutorials here at Jane Beach Fales for two hours to help the students of the village. That is something I will always remember and the highlight of my trip to Samoa. 

"This place is amazing and the people treat me well and I feel at home here...this is certainly my home away from home."

Yigal plans to go back to Upolu at the end of this month and is hoping to fly back home via Fiji at the beginning of June. But that will depend on the availability of flights and the state of lockdown around the world. 

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