Posted onFebruary 12, 2012 by Shahla & Peter Nygaard
From the diary of Shahla Nygaard – 29/1/12 – Manase, Savaii, Samoa
I am sitting in a chair on the front porch of a beach fale made of wood and closed in by mats of woven coconut leaves. On the small table in front of me there is a bottle of Lima Lima – a spirited paoa blend of 55% that tastes intensely of pineapple and coconut, a handfan and the monocular. One of my shirts, that I use for snorkelling without sunscreen, and my snorkel arehanging over the railing of the porch. On the wooden floor under my shirt, a small mangy black cat is having a nap after sharing my lunch with me. It consisted of breadfruit, taro leaves with coconut cream, a lamb stew with green beans, half a fried fish and a bowl of chicken soup. My view is of a short strip of lawn leading onto an even shorter stretch of beach.It's only a couple of steps from the water to the grass and it grows so densely that it feels like a soft welcome mat under your feet. It's a great way to get the sand off before getting into your fale. Beyond the small waves lapping at the sand is a pale turquoise lagoon and then a navy blue reef. On the outer edge of the reef, waves of a deep sea green are crashing into frothy white lines pointing to the corners of my vision.
The sky is cloudy with a big dark mass to my left and fluffy white popcorn and blue sky to my right. The temperature is pleasant: it is warm and now and then there is a slight breeze. I see a rooster walk by on the grass but he stays quiet. The only sound is the roar of the waves, muted by distance but still filling the silence. Peter has gone for a snorkel down the beach and is floating down with the current. On the beach to my left, there are a couple of small palm trees and he is coming around them now and swimming towards the shore…
From the diary of Peter Nygaard – 29/1/12 – Manase, Savaii, Samoa
I snorkelled alone while Shahla wrote in the little foyer on our beach fale. Upon entering the water, I saw a big Titan Triggerfish biting at something on the sea-bed. It freaked me out so I drifted by a few metres away and soon found myself face to face with a Porcupine Pufferfish. Behind us both, further onto the reef was a big school of Convict Surgeonfish witha few Yellow-spotted Triggerfish mingling amongst them. As I was coming around to complete my 360° spin, I noticed that all the coral looks like little trees with no leaves or maybe the roots of the trees, and the trunks are growing into the ocean floor. There were purple, brown, blue, orange and yellow corals with red, blue and brown tips, and a mossy kind of hairy mat around their base. One of the corals was broken and inside the piece that was attached to the reef was a little worm like fish that looked similar to a Garden Eel but it was divided into black and white, black on top and white on the bottom. I stared at it while it made movements that I'd seen bobble heads make and it brought back memories of watching a cobra rise out of a woven basket in the streets of Tiznit, Morocco. The "worm-fish" stayed pretty close to the entrance of its lair and so I decided to drift off in search of more interesting and beautiful creatures. Snorkelling here after snorkelling at Lalomanu (where a tsunami had hit two years earlier) is an excellent way to see the power that the ocean has over life in the coral reefs. I don't like seeing people hit or touch the corals in case they kill them but in a few big waves the ocean can kill the whole reef. There is much more fish activity here and the population is considerably higher with less visual distortion in the water so it can be a bit of a sensory overload. Overall it was a fascinating ride in a comfortable place through a beautiful underwater city.