In the dark heat

Trip Start Nov 02, 2005
Trip End Nov 06, 2005

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Flag of Samoa Western  ,
Wednesday, November 2, 2005

We arrived in Apia at some ungodly hour of the morning, after the five hour flight from Sydney on which we were given champagne and a bright red Virgin, I mean Polynesian Blue airline t-shirt, to celebrate the inaugural flight from Sydney to Apia.

It was only when we got to Adelaide airport and saw the Virgin Blue girls with the balloons did we have an inkling there was something special happening. Ian and I had no idea it was the first flight - it just happened that his brother was living in Samoa and Ian had a two week break between changing jobs, he looked on the internet and surprise surprise, suddenly flights were just $800 return from Adelaide! I only had five days to spare in my schedule but given it's just five hours from Sydney, why not?

They had a Samoan facts quiz with prizes to give away on the plane, and my internet research paid off with a free double CD! Unfortunately I missed out on Triple J's Hottest 100, lumped instead with some Pepsi crap that I'll never listen to, but the thrill of getting something free is what it's about anyway.

So, we got off the plane in Apia, hit by the wall of steamy humidity. Our light baggage was amongst the first on the conveyor belt, so we got through customs quickly and made our way out of the tiny airport. We were greeted by Ian's brother, Brett, and several of his Samoan counterparts, all bearing Samoan leis (they have a different name to the Hawaiian word; I think in Samoa they're called ules.)

It was great being greeted by so many people at about 1 in the morning, I was surprised that Brett managed to get so many of his friends to come and greet us. Then I realised they hadn't specifically - it's part of their job, as they all work for the Samoan Tourist Authority. Nice working hours!

We piled into Brett's car and started to learn about how life works in Samoa. Brett wound down the windows and cracked open some beers as soon as he started driving, explaining there's noone to enforce drink driving laws. He then asked us to look out for speed humps. Apparently the Samoan road authority thinks a good way to stop people speeding is to have speed humps that they can move around at will, with no warning signs - kind of like speed cameras in Australia. Combined with the poor street lighting, it makes for some interesting driving around at night.

In the dark heat things were a little surreal. I peered out of the window cradling my beers, alert for sudden bumps as the wind battled my hair. There were lots of palm trees, ugly 60's churches and wandering dogs. In denser urban Apia we were lulled into a false sense of security, when two feral dogs jumped at the window barking. Ian is normally a big dog fan, but at 2am in a strange country it freaked him out.
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