Thanksgiving is the biggest holiday of the year for my family. We have been hosting the annual family reunion/Thanksgiving gathering at my parents home in Georgia for as long as I have been alive. We generally have around 30 friends and family stay at my family’s small Georgia farm for 5 days of gluttony and general merriment. This is the only time of year that I get to have both my bothers together in the same room. But this year I missed it because I moved us halfway around the world. So since this was the first year my wife and I have ever been away from home for Thanksgiving we decided to do something fun and of course new.
On Thanksgiving day we went to two separate dinners. The first one was at Kevin and Corinne’s house. Kevin and Corinne are from Texas (which is Southern I guess but really Texas is just Texas) and so they know how to make some classic home cooking. They made BBQ and fixings and we brought the Turkey and some cornbread dressing. It was a great meal and we were all stuffed. After that we went our neighbor, Sarah’s house and had a light dinner.
The day after Thanksgiving Ashley and I hopped on a plane with our friends Jamie and Philip. Our destination was Savai’i, the largest island in Samoa but the least populated. In order to get there you must take a plane from Pago Pago to Upolu and then get a taxi and drive 45 minutes to a ferry. Wait in line at to buy tickets to the ferry. (Side note: Lines in Samoa are an amorphous concept; generally speaking a “line” is never formed just a mass of people pushing each other in order to gain access to a desired commodity. They will push each other despite the fact that there is plenty of the commodity for everyone) After you purchase the ticket you go and wait in a line for the ferry to come to take you from Uplou. When the doors are opened to board the ferry the line you are waiting in quickly becomes the mass of shoving and pushing as described above. This is comical and you should just be prepared to do some pushing yourself if you plan on actually getting on the ferry. The ferry ride is quite pleasant. There is air-conditioning and a flat screen TV on this voyage. On the TV was the Miss. South Pacific Pageant. Much to the groups dismay Miss. American Samoa did not win.
Upon Arriving to Savai’i there is a horde of taxis and buses willing to take you to your destination. The buses quickly fill up to the point of over flowing and if you are not willing to sit on a large man’s lap you need to take a cab. Instantly a cab driver offers to take us to our hotel for 70 Tala. But, another man steps in and offers to take us to our hotel as well for 70 Tala. Philip goes into negotiation mode and plays one cab driver against the other. By the time Philip gets done negotiating the “winning” driver has agreed take us to the hotel, pay us 20 Tala and invite us over for a Sunday umu. Philip is an amazing negotiator.
We stayed in a beautiful beach front resort with an infinity pool, Le Lagoto. We were living very well and the price was very affordable. We spent the first night just lounging by the pool. The next day we had a wonderful breakfast and went SCUBA diving. That was a new and exciting experience for Ashley and I. We did not really enjoy the underwater scenery because we were so focused on breathing and not drowning. We are looking at giving it another go though. During our second day we rented a car (Samoa is a left hand driving country so I got to practice those skills) and we circled the island. We enjoyed a swim in the ocean, acted like monkeys, saw beautiful waterfalls, went to the Western most point in the world (before you cross the international dateline), had prawn chips (gross), big cokes & stale peanuts, tossed coconuts into blowholes and just enjoyed seeing the country (including a horse in a tree). After our ride we enjoyed dinner at a tiny restaurant run by a German couple. We had a wonderful fresh fish dinner, homemade bread and a likely the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten. The rest of the time we just relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company until we had to return to American Samoa. I must say I missed my family on Thanksgiving, but Savai’i is a beautiful place, and if you get a chance you should stop by and see it.