Namua is the paradise in the paradises of the Southern seas.
Going to this tiny island represented the realization of a dream I have always thought impossible, especially for a European girl. I still get the goose bumps thinking of it: I had the privilege to sleep on a desert island, in the middle of the nature covered by a roof of stars.
Everything happened by chance, speaking to a couple of young people that I met at Apia while I was telling them I would have liked to spend my last weekend in a breath-taking location. I saw many evocative photos, and Samoa abounds of dream-like resorts, ideal for a honeymoon or a special surprise, but I would never have imagined having a whole island just for me.
Then, it came to my mind a poster I saw on the street… Namua. The girl immediately smiled and said “I know that island, my family owns it! If you want we can go there all together”. I thought “Wow, her family owns a whole island?” in reality they inherited from past generations and now belongs to an uncle of hers, a more or less distant relative, who supervises the island and manages the touristic facility. “Let’s go there on Saturday!”
The day finally came: we left Apia by car and drove roughly one-hour through various coastal villages. Due to the high temperatures, I only managed to have an avocado sandwich for lunch on the way there. We carried with us snacks, the necessary for the special Sunday lunch based on palusami, taro and bread fruits and two cool boxes filled (obviously) with Vailima and other drinks: a night of laughs was awaiting us.
We stopped at the edge of the road to find a wooden house and a small dock where the family manages the trips to the island. We parked our cars, and the owner guided us towards the boat in which we loaded our backpacks and cool boxes, then a young boy started the engine. The sea that divides Upolu from Namua seemed to be shallow and was crystal water-green. During the brief crossing, the boy caught my attention pointing at a shadow that swam close to the boat: “Look, a turtle!”.
After about 20 minutes we reached the island, and we were welcomed by two big dogs barking and running up and down the shoreline. Namua is an emerald jewel. On one side there is a handful of fale (traditional houses) ready to host us, the owner’s home and a larger facility where food was cooked and served. In the whole island, there were just the four of us, three members of the guardian’s family and two friendly dogs: all the rest was nature.
Only and uniquely unspoiled nature.
There was no electricity on the island, and only later I realised that the only artificial light came from the bathrooms and the fale that used solar energy collected by panels fixed on the roofs.
Slowly the sun hid in the waves of the immense ocean, finally showing me a fiery sunset: I’ve been waiting for this postcard moment for a long, long time. While I was taking thousands of pics, the boys were preparing the bonfire for the night: it was such a good sensation to sit around it and tell stories upon stories until late. Around us, just nature and stars and our fale are few steps away from the sea waves. I was strolling around the beach to believe where I was for real: no, it was not a dream.
I slept along the seashore in a hot December night in one of the tiniest and isolated islands in the Southern hemisphere.
The following day I was the first one to wake up to go around the island and shoot some photos, along with the sweet Kalì that has been close to me ever since I arrived. It seems he needs attention and, of course, I spoiled him properly. What a fantastic morning! I swam in the warm crystal waters of Namua waiting for the owners to prepare our breakfast: they served salty and sweet food, such as fresh fruits, bread, tea, milk, eggs, battered eggplant and even curry noodles!
After our breakfast and some relax, it came the time to prepare umu, the typical Samoan oven consisting of stones and banana tree leaves. This preparation is a male task: one made the palusami while the other one cut the taro and controlled the fire. Women didn’t participate in lunch preparation: the other girl and I sit down once everything was ready. Nice, isn’t it?
It seemed to me to be out of time and space. I will always bring in my heart the memories of my weekend in Namua… Who knows if one day I will be able to cuddle Kalì again!
“Just a few tourists come here” the owner said. On the one hand, I think “Whooaaa and they miss this paradise?” but on the other hand, I know that mass tourism would just destroy this place. We all agree I guess, that humans have a particular magic skill to spoil beautiful places, transforming them into concrete blocks with swimming pools, cutting trees or spreading garbage everywhere. The consequences of tourism can be fatal, especially in a place like Namua. So, if you come here behave properly, ok? Or even better: please Dear Businessmen, leave this island the way it is.