Samoa is split into two parts, American Samoa and Western Samoa. They are quite different – not surprising, perhaps, because of the large US military presence that has influenced American Samoa over the years.
The first thing I noticed as the ship pulled into American Samoa was, sadly, the garbage floating in the water. So far, as we have progressed through the South Pacific, we have found the environments to be very clean, so this really did stand out.
Fortunately, everything just got better after that. The Samoans are good people. They love to laugh, and if you ever want to get them engaged in conversation, all you have to do is bring up the topic of rugby. Western Samoa is a little more laid back, and you really do get the sense that they treat each other – and their customers – very well. Going the ‘extra mile’ for them appears to be no big deal. They understand what ‘service’ is, and don’t hesitate to provide it. Having said this, I’m not sure how the people in Samoa would react to a rude or difficult customer. I get the sense that the people here are exceptionally strong – in both will and body – and might not suffer fools gladly, no matter how much money was on the table.
Family is very important in Samoa – as are traditions. Although the country has a head of state, most people’s lives are governed by the chief of their village – of which there are many. It is a very collaborative culture, and people are used to working together. Perhaps this is the same reason that customer service comes so easily for them.
Off to Tonga!