The Sliding Rocks of Papase’ea

The Papase’ea Irregulars await Kate’s instructions.

A long, long time ago, in a real yet parallel world, the spirit Telesa discovered a set of rock pools where she bathed with her birds. Her girlfriends came to bathe too, then their boyfriends, the Taasaualii. They made a lot of noise and sang songs, but because they were all spirits, no-one could see them. Today the Samoans make reference to these pools by a proverb: ‘whenever something bad happens, good always comes out of it, even if we don’t see it at the time.’

Today the pools are better known for their sliding rocks – natural rock slides into deep water holes. Plenty of locals hang out here on a Sunday afternoon, showing the more subdued palangi how it’s done. A short sharp skelter into a small pool. Then a longer (5m) helter into a bigger pool below. One guy does it standing up – skiing like Eddie the Eagle. Another headfirst – Alka Seltzer – down on his stomach. Then the tourists – an Australian family, a group of Asians, me – in more conventional fashion – feetfirst, bums on rock, yawing and splashing like big kids.

Samoan skink – species only found in these islands.

Meanwhile Kate is investigating the wildlife. She finds several black-brown skinks who dart out boldly where no skink has gone before; a giant snail on the side of a rock contemplating its next move; and lots more visitors – Samoans and palangi – who are grateful to have their photo taken by a maths teacher for free. Her usual rate is fifty Tala but today is a Sunday.

No-one at the bank today.

Back in town, the streets are empty. No cars, no people. Everyone’s left for the day.  All the cafes are closed. The shops too. This is Sunday like it used to be.

We drive up Mulinu’u Road to the tip of the peninsula. The hotels are located along here, maybe they will be open. And sure enough, the restaurant at Tania Tusitala has people at its tables.  No scones and cake, but beer and fish will do.  Complimentary use of the pool too if we want.

We have a new proverb for the day.  Whenever everywhere is shut, somewhere else must always be open, even if you have to change your order.


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