Samoa (not the one we own)
Nov 20, 2009
|“Bloody Mary’s chewin' betel nuts
She is always chewin’ betel nuts
Bloody Mary’s chewin’ betel nuts
And she don’t use Pepsodent!
Now ain’t that too damn bad!” . . . OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
We arrived in Samoa (the Independent Samoa) this morning with no touring plans other than we wanted to do some shopping (Rosemary was going to try to look up the dress designer we met last year), and to visit Aggie Grey’s Resort Hotel. Aggie Grey is said to be the inspiration for the character of Bloody Mary in the musical “South Pacific” that was derived from James Michener’s book, “Tales of the South Pacific.” Aggie always claimed that she was the role model for Mary. Michener said of Aggie, “I found Aggie Grey to be one of the kindest and most charming hosts I would come across in my travels throughout Polynesia.”
The hotel was founded in Apia, Samoa in 1933 by Aggie Grey and became a renowned club in the South Pacific for American servicemen stationed in Samoa during WW II. Michener commented, “I find it quite the pleasure that one hotel in the South Pacific which I spent my fruitful hours, now has a room which bears my name.” I found a picture of Aggie and I can see the resemblance to what my mind’s eye has in mind when I imagine what Bloody Mary might have looked like. We found Aggie’s right on the main road between the port and downtown Apia and spent some time in the lobby, the bar, and their gift shop. A classy place, much nicer than either of us had expected.
We hopped a cab for the seven minute jaunt from the pier to downtown, wandered around poking our heads into little shops and markets. We found Cecilia the dress designer, but what we thought was a retail outlet was her actual workshop with no items for sale. Last year when we were here, Cecilia had a booth selling garments at the pier alongside the ship. For whatever reason, she didn’t do that today. . She recommended a very fine shop to us, JANET’S, upstairs across the street. So up we went and Rosemary bought a few small items. We popped into a McDonald’s to get a small Coke as it was brutally hot here. After a little more gawking and a couple of beers at Aggie’s we went back to the port to do some last minute shopping at the pier side.
We were scheduled for an early 4:00pm sail away to be able to maneuver through the reef system. Bruce Scudder, our Cruise Director, had arranged for a local children’s folkloric group to perform a dance and music show for us in the main show room. It was very touching performance by a bunch of cute, talented kids. They were provided a buffet lunch on the ship and at the end of their performance were presented a $3000 donation from Holland America to support their program and to provide some tsunami relief. When they gathered to say good bye, it was a three Kleenex moment.
Now it’s off to Hawaii, where they definitely accept American dollars, the Wal-Mart will be open, and the taxis have meters. First we have to get past King Neptune who is supposed to be waiting for us as we cross the equator going northbound. OOooooh…shiver me timbers!
As we depart Samoa, where Robert Louis Stevenson lived out the last four years of his life, I am reminded of his words… ”Old and young, we are all on our last cruise.” Gee, I hope not. - RBM