Living their best life on working holiday

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 16 August 2017, 12:00AM

Father’s Day at Faimafili Resort in Lefaga started off as a stuning sunny day, with a cool sea breeze carrying both the divine smells of a feast being prepared and the sounds of “Pokarekare Ana,” accompanied by a slack key guitar.

It is in this setting that Dear Tourist meets a very relaxed looking couple -- Chris and Vera Mansell from Brisbane, Australia -- who are enjoying the various tropical cocktails on offer. 

We sit down with them to find out what caused this state of relaxation.

Dear Tourist finds out the couple’s holiday is two-fold. Chris is here to manage the construction of the new Parliament building at Mulinu’u, while Vera is here to “manage” her husband and ensure that they enjoy all the sights and sounds of Samoa during their stay. 

This is the couple’s first time in Samoa and they have been here since October 2016.

 “We’ve been to Fiji and Bali and I’ve done a lot of work around the Pacific and Indian Ocean so it wasn’t something that we were unfamiliar with,” Chris said.

“Vera was looking for an all year round holiday. It’s beautiful here, it’s a fantastic site. Every morning, looking out over the port and the mountains and everything else, you couldn’t ask for a better work site.” 

Vera lists all the things she loves about Samoa. 

“Everything. The food, the people, the weather is amazing, yes, it is hot and you do acclimatize; it’s been a wonderful experience.  I mean, I manage him -- he project manages the job, but I manage him. I make sure we have some fun every weekend because his job can be stressful.”

The couple have been here long enough to figure out which local water hole to call their own and they have spent so much time exploring the island that they have also become quite the experts on Samoan localities. 

“We spend a fair bit of time at Taumeasina, we do love Taumeasina. We‘ve hit just about every resort on this island,” says Chris.

Vera explained to Dear Tourist, “every single weekend we do something new and we drive around the island at least once a month, like the whole distance, and in some ways, we know more about the island than some of the locals; we’ll say something to them and they’re like huh (sic)? Where’s that?

“I take a lot of photos, I think people at home are a little bit jealous. I’ll post them on Facebook. I know a lot of people who are following me are Samoan, but they don’t live here, so they’re following me to see Samoa. I know a lot of people miss home. Of course they do. We just love exploring, we love telling the locals what we’ve found!”

This is the couple’s second time to Faimafili Resort, Bar and Grill.

 “It’s lovely, the food is amazing, and the service is amazing the people are beautiful -- absolutely beautiful,” said Vera. “We’ve actually rented a fale today and we’re going to stay as long as we can, until at least 5 or 6 o’clock. We love that we can have a swim because at a lot of places we’re not sure if we’re allowed to or not. When you don’t know the language, sometimes you’re not sure but this one we know we can have a swim afterwards as well, so it’s good to know. Love it here.”

Chris and Vera have been really pleased with their working holiday and when they return to Australia, after the project handover, they will not only remember the beauty of Samoa and the openness of her people, but also the spirit of ingenuity and resilience that underlies our people’s smiles, which is something that Chris insists  Samoa should be proud of.

“Personally, I will remember the friendliness. 

“Samoans are far more open than the Australians are and I tell you what -- there is something that I’m extremely proud about telling everyone and I tell this in my LinkedIn profile. 

“Samoa is a remote country with old world building techniques and they are building a modern style building to amazing tolerances, stuff that would be hard to achieve even in Sydney, and they are doing it with timber form work -- not steel.  

“They are building with techniques they know and adapting them to techniques they do not know, creating a building that Samoa is going to be proud of.”

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 16 August 2017, 12:00AM

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