Return to Paradise

August 23, 2016

Return to Paradise takes me back to where it all started for me. It's my birth place where I took my first step, where as a little girl I ran bare footed and danced in the rain under the coconut trees.  

After 30+ years I had the opportunity to return back home.

This trip was long overdue. I was even starting to dream about it... while that all changed this year. No more dreaming! After some planning the day finally arrived. 

The best thing about it was being able to take my kids along for the journey. I couldn't wait to create these memories with them.

They had no idea they were going to Samoa until the day we were leaving. Yep! I did those ones,.."Surprise!!" "Your all going to Samoa!!" this was literally at the airport. Should of seen their faces! Priceless. I just love surprising my kids, it's so much fun! It was the perfect way to start our trip.

 

When we arrived I couldn't believe the heat and humility that hit me when I stepped out of the plane. It took us 2 weeks to adjust to the weather, but by then it was time to fly back home.

This trip was extra special. It was my Dad's 70th birthday the day we arrived. It was truly a gift to see his face again. His bright white hair and his famous moustache, which he's had as long as I can remember. It's his signature look. 

Being surrounded by his family especially his grandchildren was a real gift for him and a blessing for us.

 

I made sure I sat next to the car window to capture the view while driving to our home village 'Tufulele' it's like 15mins away from the Airport, you can't get lost even if you wanted to. There's only one main road that takes you all the way to town {Apia} so driving was a breeze.

The kids were in Papa's van, they were buzzing out when they saw pigs, chickens and dogs freely crossing the road. You cant help but feel a sense of freedom that island life offers. 
Life is full of daily experiences that change us and affect us. During the 2 weeks living the village it has taught my family many valuable lessons I may not have fully come to appreciate while back home in Auckland.

One of them was that I've realised that electricity can be overrated. The thought of being without power for hours scared me, so I thought. But since being here in the village, they could carry on with life without it.They truly can. 
Living in the village you learn quickly that its mostly about what you need than what you want. You can't always find what you want in the islands but you can always find what you need. We often convince ourselves of all the things we want thinking they are needs. Understanding the difference between "needs" and "wants" can really help us live with more contentment

 

We visited some beautiful beaches and resorts and eaten in some nice restaurants, but I must say the village cooking has a organic flavour that's just tasty. After church on Sundays we gather together to enjoy a lovely family meal, called 'toana'i'.

A umu will be prepared early Sunday morning and be ready to serve after church. There's just something about island food that gets me every time. Smells sooo goood! one of my favourite dishes was the 'Raw Fish' in Samoa it's called 'oka' it's made with fresh fish usually caught on the day, with fresh coconut cream, cucumber and spring onions with a pinch on salt + pepper. Fresh coconut cream really brings this dish alive! The boys would watch and help with the 'Umu'. After a big feed they will cool off at the cave pool across the road, which belongs to our village. It's policed by women within the village. They take turns, there's an open fale that they stay and sleep while keeping watch. The cave pool was one of my fun memories I had growing up here, and to watch my kids enjoy it was truly a blessing.. 

 

You can't experience Samoa without acknowledging the people. The heart of Samoa is the lives that live there. Most people we met were kind. Lots of friendly faces and smiles. Samoans are a very religious culture. You can find at least one church in every village. Doing church is often a big part of who Samoans are. You would hear the sound of church bells ringing during the day, a reminder for many things like 'Sa' {curfew} yep that's right, most villages have set curfews, can you imagine this happening here in Auckland? it's also a reminder for prayer and to notify that church choir rehearsals were about to begin. Most nights were spent staying up late chatting with Dad about his family tree and the history of our village, so captivating to hear about my great great grandparents and so many stories about when he was a little boy and how life was for him growing up. Great stories! {more on that on another blog} One of the many highlights of my trip was meeting my half sister Trisha. She use to live in the States and have recently moved back home to American Samoa. We met up in Samoa for the first time. To finally meet her was answer to prayer. It was like we were never apart. We had so much to catchup on and many late nights telling our stories. 

 

There's so much more that can't be told in one blog. But to sum it all up,.. Samoa has a way of winning your heart. I can only walk away feeling grateful and blessed where I came from. Samoa,... thank you for being my birth place, my homeland. For welcoming me back with open arms, you made my memories sweet once again. x

 

 

 

 

 

Nauna