One Year of Travel and a Samoan Festival!
We have been one year on the road. Yup, today is our one year anniversary of leaving St. Thomas, USVI, and living our dream retirement of just traveling.
What have we accomplished in one year?
Well, the blog has 208 posts and 17,000+ hits. Or pageviews. Not 17,000 different readers, but 17,000 times someone – anyone – has viewed one of those 208 posts. Not too shabby. Especially when we receive comments from people we don’t know. Or have readers in countries we’ve never been. Our readership is increasing – we think this is very cool.
We’ve been to five different countries in that year. Here’s the breakdown:
2 months – USA (focusing on 5 different areas)
3 months – New Zealand (both the north and south islands)
6 months – Australia (every state and territory except the capital)
2 weeks – Singapore – because we had to leave Australia
2.5 weeks – Samoa – our entry into the Pacific Islands
We’ve frozen our gazoobies while watching fireworks in Wellington NZ, and broiled in Darwin, Australia. We’ve swum in the Coral Sea and the South Pacific, dipped our toes in the Indian Ocean, the Tasman Sea, and I’m not sure where else. We’ve traveled by car, train, bus, boat and ferries, plane, trolley, camper van, giant camper van, and walked miles and miles. Plus navigated bus and train and subway and lightrail and trolley systems, and eaten more fries (chips) than in our entire lives before now.
And the animals – little blue penguins, kiwis and wekas, koalas, kangaroos and wallabies, dingoes, wild camels, emus!!! And of course some dolphins and a few humpback whales! Plus having brekkie with the koalas, getting to hold two koalas, and visit countless others, and pet a few kangaroos – all highlights!
We’ve learned Kiwi and Aussie slang, a few words in Maori and Samoan, and made friends around this part of the world. We’re reaffirmed that people are people, no matter where they live or how they speak or what they look like – we all laugh and love and smile and chat and enjoy, and in this part of the world we embrace the stranger rather than be suspicious.
Mostly we’ve had a wonderful time! There have been a few downsides, when things became a hassle (because we didn’t fit the norm that the customs agents or ticket agents expected). There was my surgery in Melbourne. And Richard’s dental work in Singapore. Some very cold nights. A day here and there without electricity. More mosquitoes than is healthy. But no major encounters with deadly creatures, no crimes, nothing major. Nothing we couldn’t handle, and nothing we won’t eventually laugh about – all part of the normal travel experience.
Festivals – we’ve attended festivals! And a rock concert. (Okay, that was just me.) Light shows, fire works, music, alternative music, Italian food and flag tossing, Chinese food and theatre, art festivals – just about every festival you can think of.
Right now, beginning last night, it’s the Teuila Festival in Samoa. The teuila (pronounced tay-WEE-la) is the wild ginger flower, which blooms this time of year. The flower is featured in this week-long festival of Samoan culture, heritage, history, and arts.
So today, we walked to town (to get our tickets for the boat to American Samoa, but that’s another story) and thus missed the parade. However, I met groups of people walking back after the parade, and these lovely young people in their beautiful parade uniforms happily posed for a few photos. They’re from the Nafanua Outrigger team (or maybe the Alo PauPau team?) and will participate in the boat races, so of course I wished them luck.
We saw some activities at the cultural village (with food and lava lavas for sale) – cultural relays where team members have to do the traditional palm frond braiding and such – the whole thing is similar to the VI Carnival, and Richard and I have always been Carnival fans! So this is exciting, we’re looking forward to the Teuila Festival activities and have a full schedule of events to attend!
But right now, we have to buy tickets to fly to/from Pago Pago. The boat will go to Pago (pronounced PAHNG-oh) on Thursday, as usual. But it won’t be going/coming back on the following Thursday, as usual, and when we had hoped to return. Instead, the boat will be going in for yearly maintenance. And won’t return to Apia until Sept. 19 – a week later than we had planned. Too close to when we leave for Fiji.
So we’re looking at flying. Hunting around for an affordable flight. Looks like we may have a flight on Samoan Air, but they’ll get back to us with an email. Island internet time.
We won’t worry, something will work out.
In the meantime, we have a festival to attend, and an anniversary to celebrate!