Battening Down the Hatches in Samoa’s capital

Destination Dreaming Program Staff Kate and Clint Miller have been greeted in Samoa by torrential rain, demolished sea walls and more flooding.

Thinking we’d escaped the floods in Australia, we arrived into Apia where locals were experiencing their worst day of flooding for the year and preparing for the onslaught of Cyclone Wilma. En route to our first meeting, we drove through water up to the van doors, and rain so heavy that we were at a loss as to what the country-side looked like.

As conditions worsened, it was evident that we would find ourselves stranded in Apia in less than inspiring lodging. For five days, we have explored the small city, venturing down the road from the Pacific Blue hotel- a flooded dirt road, dodging pigs, chickens and mud filled pot holes. Thank goodness for the excellent local Indian restaurant at the end of the street, as it’s been slim picking with many of the local businesses boarded up in preparation for the cyclone. The paneer tikka masala is certainly something to write home about.

We are in Samoa to prepare for the 2011 expedition program- meeting with local providers and investigating potential Dreaming Project partnerships. An excellent coffee shop hidden down a flooded back street, ‘The Coffee Bean Cafe’, has been our haven, and the site for the majority of our meetings.

By Monday, we were able to catch a lift down to the South of Upolu, hoping to capitalise on the swell brought by the cyclone. Thinking we’d earned a couple of days out, we dusted off the boards and booked into Maninoa Surf Camp for two nights. Heading out over the calm ocean, it was soon clear that despite the huge conditions on the North Coast, there was anything but epic surf on the South. We scored all of two to three foot of glassy left-handers- with Kate coming out second best after a battle with the reef and the scars to prove it.

Tomorrow brings meetings with an AusAid representative and the Australian Pacific Training College regarding potential micro-projects. All in all, we’re excited about the emerging partnerships and program opportunities in Samoa. Clint is looking forward to returning again with the Melbourne High School Sports/Service Tour in April. Tofa (goodbye) for now….

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