Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The middle of nowhere

This afternoon, we decided to take a break from our research and go out to see some of the island.  "I want to go there," Gabe stated as he pointed out a spot he had found nearby on Google Earth (see photo to the right).  There appeared to be a road that got somewhere close to the beaches he was talking about, so we decided to go on an adventure.  We hopped in our Mitsubishi Outlander and drove in the right general direction, eventually finding the unmarked road that supposedly led to the coast.  We drove down the increasingly rugged road until we reached a locked gate.

We turned off the car and got out to look for a way to keep going.  We found a Samoan woman clearing some brush with a machete who yelled for a child to come and get us the key.  While we waited, she tried to converse with us in broken English.  She asked if we had 4-wheel drive.  We didn't, but we told her that our crossover SUV would be fine. Once the gate was open, we thanked both her and the child and were on our way.

She wasn't kidding about needing 4-wheel drive.  The dirt road was very erroded and rough, but we managed to make it to the where the road ended and the walking paths began.  We hiked through rows of coconut and banana trees to a clearing that gave us a brilliant view of Fagatele Bay, a volcanic crater.  The waves crashed against the cliffs and shot more than 20 feet up in the air.  After staring in awe for a while, we headed back down the trail to go down to the beach.

The sky opened up in rain as we walked, but by the time we got back to the car, we decided that, because we were already wet, we would just drop our gear off and go to the beach anyway.  As we hiked down the steep hillside, the rainforest closed in on us making it darker and darker.  As we neared the water, we reached a set of wooden steps that took us down to the small beach.

The beach was no more than 20 yards long and looked out onto Fagatele bay.  It was high tide, as evidenced by the powerful 4-foot waves that washed right up to the top of the sand.  We left our shoes on the stairs and waded into the ocean, the rain still pouring down on us.  The four of us were the only ones around, and we just bobbed upand down in the waves and took in the scenery around us.  In front of us, the turbulent blue ocean; behind us, a steep wall of dense green rainforest.  It was very much a  "Wow, I really am in the middle of nowhere!" moment. 

As we swam the rain let up.  Kirstin was quick to point out a flying fox directly above us.  As we gazed up at the sky, we noticed more and more of the bats emerging from the trees above us.  Within minutes, there were hundreds upon hundreds of bats circling the skies.  There is no way I can translate the experience into words, but it made me so happy and excited to be in this wonderous and secluded place for the summer.

My dad said to me earlier today, "Your pictures look so beautiful, why aren't there any resorts or tourists there?"  To be honest, plopping a resort down on the shore would take away from places like the little beach on Fagatele bay.  The remoteness and the lack of human impact on the is what made our experience so incredible.  As we hiked back up the hill and drove home, we agreed that we all hoped to find many more places like this one throughout the summer.

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