Oh how I miss riding the ferry all the time! I feel like so many stories and experiences are had on the boat. Some are good, some are bad, some are about me leaning over the edge feeding the fish. The trip can sometimes can be an all day affair travelling between the two islands, or at least just feel like it.
On Friday, I had an experience that reminded me how wonderfully unique Samoa is. Elsewhere, in bus stations, train stations, wharfs or anywhere else there is someone to make announcements when something happens to interrupt your trip, or often to only give you an update with your travels. Although sometimes they are inaudible, in the cases I grew up with, in the NYC subway, there is always plenty present that understand what is being said. Samoa has its own way of announcing. Fai tala.
Fai tala means gossip and happens throughout Samoa. It is how coconut wireless, our way of knowing everything without even access to media is so strong.
The first thing I learned was at the bus station at the fish market. The Lady Samoa III (The newest of Samoa’s fleet) had broke down and was being serviced in American Samoa. This meant that the Lady Samoa II (My favourite boat!) would be running in its place.
When the bus arrived at the wharf, I was wondering why things were different. There was no long line to buy tickets for the ferry, even though the boat was to leave in 45 minutes. Then the coconut wireless signal came in signal…even though there were no workers in sight.
The small boat (the Foto..) broke down halfway on its trip to Savaii. Our 4:00 boat, the Lady Samoa II, went to rescue the passengers so they would not be stranded at sea. We had heard that boat would come back to get us…maybe.
At 5:30 they finally opened the booth to buy tickets, and everyone crowded into the next room to await boarding. The storm clouds brought a little bit of rain, but not much. (You really have to look at the clouds when riding any boat other than the Lady Samoa III, because sitting outside is preferable to try to combat sea sickness and even of you are covered, you don’t want the ground to be wet under your bum.
After 6:00 the boat arrived, and I was disappointed to see it was the small Foto. I was disappointed for two reasons, first being it just broke down a few hours ago and needed to be rescued. Who knew if they would send out another boat to rescue us when most workers are finished for the day. The second reason is because that boat is so slow. It usually takes about double the time as the Lady Samoa III. It felt like I was going to be at my destination at 10:00 at night.
The boat was packed. People were crammed into the tiny sitting area inside, others were on all levels of the captain’s balcony, and still more were trying to find any bit of space they could find around the cars. I was next to the trucks carrying things for what looked like a funeral, but could be any fa’alavelave.
Near me, someone was blaring their speakers and as the sun set on our trip, I pretended I was on Rock Da Boat and dancing to the music.
I finally arrived at the village I was supposed to well after dark….with a million memories of one long trip!