The capital of Independent Samoa is Apia, and Apia is the only city on the island (all the rest are villages). We also visited here four years ago and wrote a little of the history, so we won’t repeat. But we learned a few new facts that are most interesting. Apia Harbor (photos below, of course) was the site of a naval standoff in March 1889, whereby seven ships from the U.S., Imperial Germany, and Great Britain all refused to leave the harbor, even though a typhoon was approaching. The three countries had been vying to control Samoa and none wanted to be the first to move, and lose face, in spite of the fact that Apia Harbor is unprotected anchorage and the only way to protect their ships and crews was to head out to open sea before the storm arrived.
Needless to say, the ships waited too long to take any action, and six were thrown into the reef, the beach, or each other and sank or were damaged beyond repair. A total of 200 German and American lives were lost. One British ship, the Calliope, managed to leave the port, traveling at a rate of 1 knot, and was able to ride out the storm.
The other bit of history we learned was from the ship’s lecturer on all things South Pacific. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, lived here for the last several years of his life and died here. He had married a divorced woman, Fanny Osbourne, in 1880, when he was 30 years old. He was very sickly, and it is thought that he had tuberculosis. He was advised to move from Scotland to a better climate, possibly near the ocean. With his wife and her son, he traveled to destinations around the world. Within a week of arriving on this Samoan island, he bought 800 acres and decided to build a house. Stevenson was always seeking new adventures, and he thought the island would be good for his health. He was adored by the locals, as he was concerned for their well-being, and was very active in local politics. He loved Samoa – Fanny not so much, but she was determined to stay with him and help with his health concerns. Consequently, the chiefs built and dedicated a road with the loveliest name here: The Road of the Loving Heart. Isn’t that a great dedication to someone so beloved? We visited his home and estate just outside of the capital, and the entry road is Robert Louis Stevenson Avenue, but Road of the Lovely Heart is awesome. We traveled there by taxi (the 44-year-old taxi driver has 11 children!), and he was also going to take us to a nearby waterfall. But the rain came, finally, after threatening all day, and he said it would be flooded and unwalkable. So he took us to the island’s nicest resort because he wanted us to see a beautiful place while we were here. His name was August. Just lovely.
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