Cyclone thwarts U.K. couple’s travel plans

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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"An unforgettable birthday": Caught in some crazy weather but that wont stop Neil and Klara from having fun celebrating two significant milestones in Samoa.

There’s nothing like the threat of a Tropical Cyclone to commemorate a 30th birthday and a nine-year anniversary as Neil and Klara have found out. 

The couple from the U.K. found themselves at a standstill like the rest of Samoa yesterday - caught between heeding the Cyclone weather warnings and getting on with life.

Seeking refuge at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia, the couple were reassessing their options after efforts to get to Savai’i were thwarted by heavy rain and high swells.

“It’s my birthday today,” said Klara. “I’m turning 30 years and we got together nine years ago so we are celebrating two things here in Samoa.

“Up until two days ago, the weather was great,” said Neil. 

“We have been trying to go to Savai’i yesterday and today but obviously the ferry is not going today. We even went to the Fagali’i airport to see if we could take the plane there but there were no flights going between the two islands.”

At that point, Neil and Klara were resigned to the fact that Savai’i was not going to be on the cards since they will be leaving for Australia this Sunday. 

But the happy couple were not going to let the weather dampen their spirits saying that Samoa has been everything that they expected.

“Samoa is everything we expected, we knew there was a lot of nature and that we can explore and see how the locals live – we have done it all and its definitely what we have expected so its been great,” said Klara.

The couple are staying at Sinalei Resort and said that on their arrival they received a special welcome. 

“We got here last weekend and the sun was shining we were surprised at how beautiful it is. We are staying in Sinalei in the south coast so beautiful beaches everywhere and on the day we got there, a big huge turtle came to the hotel,” said Neil

“It was stunning,” added Klara.

So far the pair have found our people to be the most outstanding aspect of Samoa and that it was so refreshing to experience genuine openness compared to the closed nature of the security cautious Europeans.

“What I like is when we drive everywhere here, I wave at everyone,” said Neil. 

“Because especially in the U.K, everyone sticks to their own, it’s very much closed. So when you’re driving along over there, they kind of look at you and everyone has what we call in England, “resting b**ch face”

“But here if you look at someone and you give them a wave, they look at you and smile and give you a big wave back. They’re just the happiest people, I love that.”

“In England if you wave at someone, they’ll be confused as to why you’re waving at them and question why you’re looking at them in the first place.” 

This is the first time the couple have experienced the Pacific after considering New Zealand and Fiji as options when looking at holiday destinations but in the end, Samoa’s authenticity won them over, “When we were deciding where to go, it was between Fiji and Samoa and everyone we spoke to that have been to both islands, recommended Samoa because they were saying, Fiji is about big resorts and most people stay in the resorts,” said Neil. 

“Whereas in Samoa it is easy to talk to local people and gives you more of an experience of what life is like rather than staying in the resort. I think maybe our generation wants less of the resort life and there’s also so many more people travelling these days – it’s not just western Europeans who are travelling.”

Klara agreed and for her, authenticity and simplicity of life were things that resonated with her over the luxurious resort life, “Everyone is very happy on this island, its very nice for a change. In Europe and even in Australia, everyone is always busy with their lives and rushing around whereas here everyone is taking everything slow and they are just truly happy.

They are always smiling from within- it’s not just a fake smile.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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