Sunday, April 18, 2010

All the Way Home

I took a flight from San Francisco to Geneva once. That was a long way. I flew from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro. I think that might be a longer distance; I’ll have to Google that. My point is in the grand scheme of things, today’s entire trip was a relatively short distance. But with the exception of my New Years Eve trip to Falealupo, today’s trip back to Apia from Manase was my longest one-day journey in country, point-to-point.

One other thing that sets today’s trip apart from that NYE trip: a bunch of us went in on a taxi for the longest leg of that trip. Our trek today comprised wholly of public transportation. That’s a little more of a headache.

The day started at Tanu Beach Fales where we had complimentary breakfast and I took a brief swim since the tide was in. Luisa and I had our bags packed and our fale cleaned by 9:45 since we’d been told the bus would come through the village to pick us up at 10. I was told over the phone when I made the reservation, we were told yesterday when we checked in, we were told this morning when we checked out. 10 a.m., 10 a.m., 10 a.m.

The bus came at 11:30.

It was cool though. The family that owns Tanu is very nice, and when the bus finally did show up, there were plenty of open seats. We sat in the bench at the back and we were off.

Though Los Angeles is a bigger city with a wilder reputation, I find drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area drive a lot faster on average. This same juxtaposition seems to be true of Upolu and Savai’i: despite being the quieter, more laid back island, drivers on Savai’i haul ass. It took us an hour to get to Salelologa. On an Upoluan (Upolutian?) bus, the same distance would have taken twice as long. No exaggeration.

We got food at a hotel in Salelologa, and then walked to the wharf where most passengers had already boarded the ferry. With the new boat in and out of commission, the boat schedule has been all over the place. Today, the (old) little boat was not running so there was an extra large crowd on the (old) big boat. The air conditioners were off, and by the time we got on, there were very few seats left. Luisa squeezed in to a bench. I sat on the floor.

At first this arrangement wasn’t ideal, but I got sleepy and laid down in the aisle and took a nap. And it was awesome.

Getting off the boat is a crucial point in any journey given the scarcity of bus seats back to Apia. I have no idea why they send 3 tiny buses for a boat carrying >400 people. I try not to use the blog to complain, but the whole pasiovaa arrangement is absurd. Cramming that many people on to that few buses makes no sense in terms of safety, comfort, business, or efficiency. I don’t expect things to be overly accommodating or hoity-toity, but surely someone could scrounge up one more bus? Particularly on Sundays when only one boat is running and there’s bound to be hoards of people? It’s about the same as when there would be one Muni bus waiting after a San Francisco Giants game.

As you can probably surmise, the bus back to Apia was not fun. By the time we got on, there was standing room only, and we were near the front. Looking out the window, there were still at least 20 people waiting to get on. Luisa ended up riding on a random lady’s lap. I had to contort my legs and arms to fit into a tiny space in the aisle.

In the end, we made it back to Apia about 6 hours after we left Manase. On the whole, this was good time. Especially considering we got to eat lunch. But I’m still ready to take a break from buses for a while.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Phil and Luisa on the rocks out in back of his house.

I finally got to use the underwater camera bag this weekend.

Coral at Manase.

You can always tell a Milford Man.


Cale said...

I would just like to say that the first time Cale and I went from our house to Manase it took 8 hours and we didn't stop to eat anywhere.

Raylan Givens said...

Manase is my favourile place in Savaii. You could stay Ritzi at Le Lagoto or backpacker intimate at any of the Beach fales there. (Tanu's my favourite.) But I'm never game enough to subject myself to the whole bus experience again. (Did enough of that whilst schooling) So I always rent a Tucson and arrive in Savaii's way too interesting to spend a weekend in one place.

Amanda said...

These pictures are all so gorgeous! I'm glad you guys made it home!

Unknown said...

When I was in the Peace Corps, assigned to fisheries on Savai'i, the small ferries had a schedule that traveled between Mulifanua and Salelonga that were subject to the tides. There was no deep sea shipping channel, only an opening in the reef and shallow sand. When a ferry would arrive at Mulifanua at low tide, the boat would ground on the sand, and you would just wait for perhaps hours for the tide to come in. During this time, you would see the buses waiting at the wharf to take the passengers to Apia, just a couple hundred yards away. Jim Gregory, Samoa 6