My pilgrimage to the beach of ghosts


Waking up in Samoa is like waking up in the distant past. Despite spending the night a five minute walk from the centre of the capital, I stumbled out of my fale to the sounds of insects and birds, with palm trees swaying and the pool sparkling. The air was fresh, the weather was warm, and I was happy. I was tired after my troubled night, so I rolled over to the pool to eat my breakfast. Sleeping Beauty joined me five minutes later, and he looked like he’d just crawled out of a bin. He was an Aussie bloke with bloodshot eyes, a pencil neck, a bald head, no shoulders and a big nose – and an open wound on his forehead.

“I had the weirdest dream that some cunt was throwing rocks at me,” he mused.

“That’s funny,” I replied. “I had a dream that I was throwing rocks at some cunt who wouldn’t stop fucking snoring.”

He decided to eat his toast in his fale.

Who needs a Ferrari when you’ve got a Rav?

I wasted no time getting out of Apia, and by 10am I was blasting along the freeway towards the village of Lalomanu, on the east coast of Upolu. Alright, that’s a load of shit – I was slowly winding my way along a pothole-filled lane in a car that would struggle to beat a midget in a sprint. But I didn’t care, because the scenery was absolutely beautiful. That’s a load of shit, too, because the word beautiful simply doesn’t do justice to this majestic land.

This is Eugene Cumberbund. Hello, Eugene Cumberbund!

I rolled through gorgeous villages, along breathtaking coastlines, past dense rainforests, and up steep mountains. It was a kick-arse drive, with the highlight being a steep descent into the mouth of a dormant volcano. Even in a Rav 4, it was as much fun as a bloke could have in a car with his shorts on.

No man is an island, but this island is an island

After stopping plenty of times for more photos, I finally rolled into the beachside village of Lalomanu bit after midday. There’s not much to the joint – a few shacks, half-a-dozen churches, and finally a stretch of sand with a few fales on it. The lack of development is at once surprising and completely lovely. I pulled in to find that Taufua Beach Fales would be a great place to spend the night. The sun was shining, the water was crystal-clear, and I had a hut right on the water. Shit, there are worse ways to spend a Tuesday.

Bloody bewdiful!

I picked up a beer, dumped my stuff in my fale, and lay down in the sun to check out the female talent. And it wasn’t bad at all! There wasn’t a lot of variety, but the quality was such that I soon had to put down my Kindle and go for a swim to cool off. The water was lovely, but the snorkeling was more sad than anything. The reef was dead, and populated by only a handful of small fish, a reminder of the devastating tsunami of 2009.

Yeah, the tsunami. As idyllic as Lalomanu is, there’s also a cloud of sadness that hangs over this place. It looks pretty now, but just a few years ago the village lay in ruins, the remains of the tourists fales were spread across the sand, and the bodies of the lay piled up. Many people from this small and tight-knit village were killed, and the disaster touched everyone. With steep cliffs surrounding Lalomanu, there was nowhere to run. The people have moved on with their lives, the resort has been rebuilt, and the area is slowly regaining its beauty. But sitting on the sand, looking out at the eternal ocean, the ghosts still haunt the place.

Also bloody bewdiful!

Still, I had fun, and paddled around like a retard in a bathtub for and hour before heading in for more beer. And more beer and more beer and more beer. Dinner rolled around and everybody at the resort – around 10 of us – were placed at a single long table and stuffed full of prawns, salad, fruit, rice and other beaut stuff. The others were all pretty cool, and I made friends with an Aussie bloke and his Czech missus, while trying to work out a way to make sure the Italian bird opposite me ended up in my fale. In the end I asked her if she wanted to eat my meatballs and she left. The humour must’ve been lost in translation.

I rounded out the night with a long walk along the beach, drenched in moonlight and contemplating life and other crap. I just find it hard to justify being at work, and all the bullshit that goes with it, when I could be on a beach somewhere drinking beer. It doesn’t make sense.

Bloody hell, I always come up with my best thoughts when I’m pissed – someone pass me another Vailima!

I’ve slept in worse places (bins, for example)


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