Samoa VII - Manono Again

Pacific Bliss
Colin Price
Mon 10 Sep 2012 05:00
Manono-tai again
I have totally loved our time in Samoa, we’ve met the most incredible group of folk both local and the dreaded yachties.  It’s also the first time I’ve been able to speak ‘mother tongue’ to ‘mother tongue’ for over a year, so this through me into over drive.    It’s an unusual thing for us to be in a place with grocery shops, English speakers in a marina and have a healthy range of tribal art to keep me inspired.  
Stuff I’ve loved the most are a fantastic Fabric printer up at the, Plantation House. A magical massage and facial with the most wonderful potions that actually made me look 10yrs younger,  Le Spa.  Great local food, a culture that is deeply entrenched which we respect hugely.   We loved the organisation ‘Women in Business’ it’s a charity that was set up to help help retain the old culture and create a sustainable living for folk in the community.  It just feels like a very positive place.   So many of the folk we have met are very special you can’t help but feel that this small country is in very safe hand for the future.
We left Apia in a mad crazy rush, trying to leave with a well stocked, well ordered and clean boat after a month in a city is no quick task.  Added to this the kids had been out playing until past 11pm, bad parents. We also had lovely Oliver, my friends son over for a sleep over.  It was a classic example of trying to fit too much into 24 hrs and by the time we released the warps we where all ready for bed.    Luckily the winds where fair to us and we had a pretty uneventful trip down the north west coast to Molifanua  .  It was wonderful having Oli and Fem on board but sadly for them we where past our best and not great hosts.
Destination was ‘a resort’ not normally Colins cup of tea but here we where awaiting a guide to take us into uncharted waters, but after a few days r&r the guide didn’t materialise so we decided to go it alone.  Not as if we haven’t been coral challenged in the past!
Manono1 On this google map you can just about make out the wiggly entrance that we navigated.  All very shallow, but do-able. 
After quite a bit of wiggling and then re-anchoring due to the fact we where in sight on one chief’s parish therefore liable to anchoring fees!  Finally we found the right spot.
What this trip was all about are easily defined:  We wanted to come back to this very special place
                                                                                We wanted to meat the Matai Leota, who we had heard so many good things about.
                                                                                We had things to give to the wonderfully hospitable family who lived up in the plantation
                                                                                We needed to fore fill Colin's obsession to be the first boat to anchor.
                                                                                I was on the hunt for a super fine woven mat a very respected art form from Samoa and Manono is the centre of production.
Miraculously  we achieved the lot and more.
IMG_6684_smlIMG_6031_smlThe first time an yacht has anchored off this island – EVER.
First thing we do is invite the chief for lunch, and given he’s a chief we need to make sure we produce a meal fit for a King and Queen.  Actually they rate it next to Hotel food, and are totally beside themselves with excitement.  It’s like us being invited aboard a mega yacht for a lavish lunch I suspect.
IMG_6686_smlIMG_6689_smlMatain Leota and wife Sao join us for lunch on the boat.
Like I’ve said Samoan culture is very tightly regulated and structured, fine for most but for those at the bottom end of the food chain it’s extremely tough.   Locally controversial yet hugely companionate Euan the Kiwi Host has befriended the poorest family in the village.  These boys don’t have a mum and money is in scarce supply.  Whilst they will never starve due to the natural terrain, aged 13 Howie  had never ever celebrated his birthday before this year.  Ewan gave him and his father enough money to catch the bus up to Apia for the day.  But the high light of the day wasn’t an apple touch/ipad/book no, no, no for this guy it was eating an apple for breakfast on hs thirteen birthday.  Still every day he smiles and you couldn’t have wished for a lovelier young man in the making.  This is perhaps where a rigid society breaks down for us.  However this is not to say the kids from the poor families in western society have any more of an opportunity.
With so much talk about Samoan feast, all of which until now had seemed a wee bit cheesy for us.  Due to Laoto’s delight about us coming to stay on his patch of sand, we where treated to a wonderfully authentic kitchen and  Dinner.
The fire is lit and lava stones are piled on the hot coals.
The Chefs
Cosmo grates the rind from a breadfruit
Leota makes palsami from taro leaves and coconut cream
Leota’s cousin squeezing the coconut through coconut husk fibre
Octopus is softened on the hot stones
And the oven is piled high, and then closed over with banana and taro leaves to cook for an hour 
Finally the kids are beyond excitement as we have Euan for there favourite supper, wonderful night.
IMG_6026_smlIMG_6040_smlEuan comes on board for pizza
Apolima tai in the evening light 
Howie and and Leota son coming out to see if Cosmo would like to play with no computers or television to watch fun on Canoe’s, playing rugby and splashing around in the water are very worthy holiday occupations for all the kids.
We actually came here to relax and get to know the island and island folk a little more, but with tensions raising high on the land, we need to back off, Colin is in the uneasy position between a rock and a hard place.
Cosmo confused IMG_6734_smlIMG_6741_smlLeota and Euan
We also have to be on our way as we have an appointment to keep.  Breaking our yacht rule for the first time, we’ve got to get to Tonga by the end of the week. So whilst the exit is magic having Captian Matai on board to navigate us out safely oh and the weather is bliss-full  this is only the lull before the storm.
Leota helps to pilot us out of the lagoonIMG_6064_sml
New Bliss motto: ‘Never leave on passage when you see purple on the gribs’