Waking up this morning I had an opportunity to watch the sunrise from my Samoan beach fale overlooking the ocean. Teyauna was up very early running back and forth along the sand in front of the three fales our family had slept in through the night waiting for someone to wake up. Kirsten was the second person awake and I caught a glimpse of these two girls as they headed off down the small staircase to the beach and disappeared around the corner on the sandy shore.
The white, tan sand of the beach looked so magical as the sun lay low just below the horizon. From the front step of our fale I sat amazed at the beautiful ocean that for months now we have sailed across for thousands of miles. The waves crashed 500 feet in front of us as it rolled over an outer reef protecting our sandy beach. The colours of the morning as the sun started to peer up and over the horizon made the landscape in front of me sparkle. The contrast of colours from the white sandy shore, the clear blue waters and the green palm leaves were relaxing.
Before long the others started to awaken one by one and in the quiet morning they talked in hushed tones trying to keep Zakary asleep. With paper thin walls made of woven palm leaves, sounds travel across from one raised wooden floor fale to another. Kirsten had attempted to raise the sides to our fale in the night to keep us cool but there was no breeze to do the job. In the morning she lowered them again before leaving to keep the light as low as possible through the speckled light holes between the woven palm lattice. Twelve sturdy posts held up our thatched roof that didn’t attract any short rainstorms in the night. Fortunately we had more than just woven mats on the floor of our fale to sleep on as Kirsten was initially concerned about. On top of the mats were some two inch tall mattresses and polynesian floral print sheets to sleep on.
Dailin realizing there was still over an hour before the included breakfast was to be served, pulled a coconut off of a palm tree next to our thatched roof fale. He had remembered to pack his machettee and within minutes, he was sharing a refreshing drink with the others that were already awake. As is frequently the case someone (in this case Orin) was a little worried. He had spilled a little bit of the tasty juice on his shirt. A clear indication that a nice brown irremovable stain would appear in a day or two.
As we drive through village after village we see large and small fales everywhere with their open sides. Many families still live and sleep in their fales although after the last few cyclones, the locals are adding a non-traditional European/North American style home with four solid enclosed walls. The fales are the preferred place to sleep to keep cool in the hot days and nights but when a major storm comes, the protection of walls is desired.
Samoans have large families that extend many generations. For this reason many homes have very large fales next to them which act as gathering places for when relatives show up and need a place to stay or for big celebrations and gatherings such as weddings and funerals. Driving through a Savaii village we frequently see dozens of fales, perhaps more than other styles of buildings.
It was a magical Samoan morning in a traditional style Samoan fale. While these fales are simple and rustic, it is a truly unique Samoan experience, one which I would recommend to anyone visiting the beautiful islands of Samoa.