Have you ever felt like you've traveled back in time. Or even though you've only gone a few kilometres down a particular road it actually feels like you've gone a thousand kilometres? That was the experience I had when I turned right off the north coast road in Savai'i. I'm glad I did because a little piece of history and magic was at the end of that road.
Savai'i is the big island in Samoa and it's a million miles from modern life. It's not backward in that everyone is riding horses and living in huts. They have normal roads, small towns, electricity, it's not like it's backward. It just feels different. You hear people talk about being on "island time", well Savai'i is the epitome of that saying. It hasn't got the big hotels and resorts like places like Fiji, Hawaii or Tahiti. But it's certainly a decompress type of place. It is absolutely paradise in every sense of the word. Remote, amazing paradise.
In the top, north-west corner of the island, you can turn off the main road and follow a slowly disintegrating road along the coast. It starts as a normal sealed road, then slowly the potholes start to grow and join together. Eventually the bitumen erodes completely and your driving on gravel. The further you drive, the less gravel and the more sand winds its way in front of you until it's all hard sand. That eventually turns back into gravel which gives way to a broken bitumen road which gradually comes together to form a quality road before you rejoin the main road again. It's like driving into the past and then back out again.
About half way along, at the point you feel the least attached to the present & the furthest away from the world, there's a small village called Falealupo. It's right on the most western point of the island and used to be the very last place on earth you'd see the sunset. About 10 years ago the Samoan government moved the international dateline so the village no longer carries that title. We call places "the ends of the Earth", well technically this place used to be the ends of the earth. (There's a small village in American Samoa that's now the ends of the earth but we'll visit that amazing place another time.
Along the coast line is the burnt out ruin of the old church. Samoans take their spiritual life very seriously and the church is very important to them. This church, a catholic one, was hit by a massive wave in 1991 during Cyclone Val (hurricane to those in the northern hemisphere) and destroyed. The villages weren't spared from the ferocity of the cyclone but as far as I could tell, no lives were lost in the area. The remains of the church were left as they were after the events of Cyclone Val.
As I wandered around the ruins and tried to get a good photo without being eaten alive by either mosquito or cooked alive by UV rays, I'd never felt so unattached with the rest of the world. The houses of the village were only a few hundred metres away but I saw no one. No cars passed me on the ever changing road. There was no wind and I heard no birds. It was otherworldly.
If Savaii is a remote paradise, Falealupo is the most remote of the remote. The actual ends of the earth. It was just me, the church, the ocean and the sky. What more could I want.