It’s 1.00am on Saturday morning at Apia International Airport waiting for the departure of my flight at 2.00am. To be more precise, the plane from NZ needs to arrive first, before it can think about turning about and going back. Half the departure lounge has emptied out for the other airline and it’s a hot, tired bunch of people waiting in the humidity here.
I arrive back at 5.00am on Sunday morning so pay back for my three-day weekend – I only get a one day one and then we start our Wisdom Retreat for Senior Leaders at midday. So it’s all work and no play for me right now.
Speaking of all play 59 years of marriage my parents celebrated Saturday. A fine achievement!
It’s a very friendly place Samoa – well that’s been my experience this week – the pace is slow, the driving is excruciatingly slow at times: Island time is alive and well.
I got to know a couple of taxi drivers who would take me to dinner and then return, worrying about payment on the return visit – Mapu and Snoob. Last night Snoob’s, wife was in the car on way back from the Restaurant. She had just finished work.
Boarding soon. I’ve enjoyed the week, the training went well, this Palangi was treated very well and I hope I’ll be back. But I like home more – and that’s how it should be I reckon!
If you travel to Samoa from New Zealand you travel back in time – 23 hours at the moment to be precise – and if like I did last Sunday evening, you travel on Sunday evening you get two Sundays. Which from what I could see if you were local, means that you would spend two days in a row going to church and I imagine, having quiet family time. The missionary colonialists could not have imagined such success to convert the locals to Christianity. It would appear as a miracle beyond their wildest expectations. In my hotel two of the six channels available were showing local church services.
When Monday arrived the deserted town of Apia surged into life with uniformed police maintaining or watching – I couldn’t tell – traffic flowing in this busy harbour-side town. I found coffee too – at the curiously named Sydney Side Cafe – and everyone I spoke to commented how hot it was. Really? We are in the tropics man. Am I the only one that knows that?
I’ve been warned when I start my training delivery tomorrow that they might only want to talk about the Rugby World Cup. That’ll be okay – Manu Samoa did their nation proud, give or take a tweet or three but who really cares? I’ve had a couple of jogs to get the muscles moving after the Auckland Marathon. I haven’t seen anyone else out running and if I lived here I’d start a running group – there’s a lovely waterfront that looks like it stretches well out of the town that would be good for out and backs. I’ve been here before, a few years ago and there are some new buildings and they now drive most of the time on the left side of the road (airport transfers in the middle of the night excepted!).
Samoa is moving forward on 29 December 2011 – by a whole day to align its time to New Zealand – that would be a great opportunity to say to the world that it’s moving forward in a number of other ways too. The work I’m doing here is in a very small way part of Samoa up-skilling itself for wealth prosperity and dare I say it, happiness. Not sure about that part as everyone I see seems pretty happy with their lot.
People seem pretty happy at the hotel though like other Pacific nations I’ve been through, I can see from my runs around Apia that the Hotel is not like the locals live at all. There were families out walking this evening, raw smoke from open fires and the next generation of Rugby players mucking around by the harbour with shirts off. All in all pretty laid back and easy feeling.
We drive ourselves pretty hard most of the time – well I feel I do – and there’s rewards and satisfaction from achievement and goal setting. Happy though? It’s a very difficult thing to measure by observing such difference in societal norms. Maybe I’ll get a better sense in the morning when I interact at a more meaningful level with local professionals. And great food for thought at our Wisdom Retreat for Senior Leaders starting the day I return.
Looking forward. And if you want your three day weekend, you’ve only go about 6 weeks to do it.
ps I’m back after RWC2011, Auckland Marathon and some manic work commitments!