The Samoan Teuila Festival began on Monday. We have been watching the long boat crews practicing since we got here on August 21. These boats have crews of 40 rowers. The boats are all very colorful. Every morning we would hear the beating of drums as the crews rowed in time with the beat. The Fautasi Challenge was held on Monday morning, and around 8:30 6 or 8 boats were arriving in the bay and heading for the finish line. My understanding is that the race is 5 kilometers in distance. It was a windy and rainy morning so I am sure that the conditions were a challenge for them. We quickly walked up to the sea wall to watch the winner come in. Later we were able to move farther down to get a closer look at all the boats. People were lined up all along the sea wall, and the parked cars had their radios turned to a broadcast of the race. At the end of the race, one long boat came along the sea wall so I was able to get a good picture of the boat and its crew.
On Tuesday night, we went to see the Fire Dancing finals. Steve from sv Hannah went in with us, and we stopped by the booths to get some dinner. I had curried chicken with rice while Steve had BBQ sausage, lamb, and chicken with potato salad and panzit—both were excellent. After eating we went over to the Government Building and found a seat on the lawn. We had three darling kids next to us who were enthralled with our digital camera. Steve would take a picture of them and then show it to them on the camera. They got a real kick out of it and would giggle every time.
The evening started with different groups doing presentations that involved singing. It seems that a common story was being told because there was always a young lady involved. She would be dressed in a woven palm dress with a stunning headdress made of polished oyster shells, small shells, and flowers. She would walk around the stage subtly dancing and waving a sword. I will have to find out what story is being told.
There were also groups of men that would perform what they called “slap” dancing, which, according to the announcer, used to be performed before going to war. After watching these dances, we could see how it could get the men pumped for battle, and it was also great aerobic exercise. In the picture of the two men and a woman, you can see an example of traditional tattoos for men. The tattoos go from the waist to the ankles. They take a long time to create and are said to be painful. We saw one young man getting tattooed yesterday. The tattoo was being done the old way using a boar’s tooth and a stick to pound the ink into the skin. These tattoos were traditionally done as a rite of passage for young men.
The event was very interesting and the costumes were beautiful. Unfortunately, we never got to see the fire dancing because it started to rain—heavily! We tried to wait it out, but the rain was just too heavy so we hailed a taxi and returned to the marina. We hope that they postponed the event until tonight.
We had planned to leave Samoa tomorrow; however, the weather does not look good so we will stay here for a few more days until things settle down. I don’t mind as it gives us more time to get ready to leave so that hopefully it won’t be quite so hectic.