Although they look like something the rich use for shade by the swimming pool, people still live in these low budget homes. Wooden poles hold up a coconut fibre lined roof or more recently, a rusty tin roof. Inside the floor is raised to allow air to flow underneath and the walls offer the ultimate in air conditioning; because there are no walls.
From the road you can see, families inside going about their day, especially at night when they light lanterns or maybe turn on the one light bulb and sit in front of the inevitable TV. Every home seems to have a television, and it is the American channels they are watching and the American culture these families have been soaking up for decades. No wonder so many leave.
On the other side of the road from the airport to town, is the ocean, placid sparkling blue protected by the inner reef. Palm trees lean out across the shore providing shade and beauty and an almost continuous opportunity for stunning beach photos.
I first moved to Samoa with my fiancée when I was just nineteen, and suddenly became aware that I knew very little about how others lived. I was mesmerised by the beauty and horrified by the practicalities of living there. I had never considered that people I knew had grown up, and were often still living, without inside toilets, hot water, or garbage trucks.
We spent most of our time with family who were comparatively well off. They had windows and doors, an inside shower and toilet, and a kitchen with a real sink, but even they did not have hot water or a fridge. I hardly noticed the lack of hot water since almost every moment was spent in trying to cool down, but the lack of the fridge meant no milk, no crisp vegetables, no cold drinks, and even worse, no ice cream. You could buy these things but not store them.
I have been back to Samoa several times since that first visit, and things haven’t changes that much and that is part of its charm. It is still relaxed, tropical, fragrant, steamy, and charming. Well worth a visit.
And that brings me to house sitting. Can you house sit in Samoa?
Most Samoans have big families so if they go away there is often still a family member nearby to help look after the home. Samoans are unlikely to want an outsider to look after their home and I do not know of any agency that will help. They don’t usually need someone to look after their pets either. The dogs often scavenge for food and even the pigs wander free.
You might find a house sit if you have enough Samoan friends, but it would be as unlikely the proverbial chicken with a full set of teeth.
Don’t let that put you off a visit.