Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Being a tourist-Museums

With my parents visiting, I have had the wonderful experience to see Samoa as a tourist, and go to some of those places that I have always wanted to go, but never really had the time to go to.
The first was the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. Going on this tour made me learn quite a bit more about Samoa, as well as the famous writer. The museum is his former residence, and after he passed away and his family moved back to America, the house had many famous residents. When Samoa was under German influence, it was where their leaders met, and the same was true when Samoa first gained independence. However, in 1991 (I think), Hurricane Ofa came through and destroyed the house, along with much of Samoa. There was another hurricane, I think in 1993, that helped to destroy many places.
The Samoan government could not afford to renovate the house, so it sat there for several years falling apart. Then former LDS missionary from the States came back to visit Samoa, and saw the shape of the building. He decided he would make it his mission to bring the house back to its glory days. He invested millions of his own money at the time, and is still putting in much money to ensure the house stays in its best condition.
Things I learned from the museum, Robert Louis Stevenson came to Samoa for his health. He was searching the world for a place to help him have a better quality of life for his sicknesses. While he was in Hawai’i, someone clued him in on the beauty and fresh air of Samoa. His family all made the trip with him. Apparently, they loved the lifestyle here, and only the maid had to return because of the heat. All of RLS stories had to be handwritten because the time period was before the age of even typewriters. His daughter worked as his scribe writing and illustrating all of his novels. While he was in Samoa, he wrote more than one book a year, which is pretty impressive (I am having enough trouble keeping up with this blog, and thankfully I don’t have to handwrite it.)
Their house is not very Samoan at all. It has a lot of Scottish influence (Where he was born.), and American influence (Where his wife was from). It was strange to see a Samoan house with a fireplace, but if it helps you to feel at home, it is very important. (As a PCV, I have learned that some little things that connect you to home are extremely important to hold on to.) His wife’s bedroom was constructed with wood from California trees, to give her a taste of home.
Of course they did not live as they did in the past, and integrated well into the Samoan culture. The name Robert Louis Stevenson is long and hard enough for those of us who are used to the English language, but for Samoans at that time, it was near impossible. Because of this, they gave him the name tusitala which means storyteller.
There is a hike you can do to his grave, but we decided to hold off on that for another time.

We also made the trip to the Samoan museum. The Samoan museum has great cultural information about Polynesian culture. There are artifacts from all around the Pacific as well as Samoa. It actually helped me out as I saw a few things that I noticed in the village, and now I actually know their purpose.

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