September 5, 2008—We had a very busy day today trying to get everything done in order to leave plus take a tour of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. We went to Immigration and checked out there. Then Steve went to pay the marina bill. Next stop was Customs. After that we were all checked out and ready to go.
Next we went shopping for our last few provisions. We found a great store here that has wonderful New Zealand beef and beautiful vegetables. You pay extra for anything there, but it was worth it.
After lunch we took a taxi up to the museum. A quick history is that Stevenson bought 162 hectares of bushland at the foot of Mt. Vaea for $4,000 in 1889. The property is inland from Apia and high above the sea. He died of a brain hemorrhage in 1894 around 8 o’clock in the evening. Prior to his death he had been granted two requests by the chief. He wanted to be buried at the summit of Mt. Vaea overlooking Vailima, the name given to his estate, and he wanted to be buried with his boots on. Both requests had been granted. We were told by the tour guide today that the family was informed that Stevenson had to be buried by 3 p.m. the next day according to their laws. There was no path up to Mt. Vaea summit so they did not know how to carry out his wishes. Stevenson was well respected by the local people so when the locals heard about the problem, many came to the house and began working on a path to the summit that very evening. They worked all night and were able to cut a path to the summit in time. His casket was passed from one local to another all the way up to the summit. We took the hike up to the summit to visit his grave today, and it is not an easy path, but it has a spectacular view of Apia and his home. Also, he was buried with his boots on. As a side note, the local beer here is named Vailima after his home.
The estate housed different governmental officials from Germany, New Zealand, and Samoa. In 1992 Hurricane Val did serious damage to the house. Mormon businessmen from Arizona and Utah obtained a 60-year lease on the property in order to create a museum. The property was largely rebuilt, but the museum did open in 1994—100 years after his death.
We enjoyed a nice dinner out and then returned to the boat to finish cleaning up. We will head to northern Tonga and then spend the next 7 weeks exploring the northern, central, and southern islands of the Kingdom of Tonga.