To experience the fish market you must arrive before dawn.
Brothers, cousins, watch and wait, ready to help.
Fishermen haul their catch to the pavillion in iced coolers. As early as it is, you can see that before long the ice is melting. They display their treasures with the eye of an artist. Splashes of brilliant color are placed among the dominant shimmering silver-blue and grey.
They're waiting for restauranteurs and grocers to come and empty their tables and fill their pockets.
They do not wait alone.
And come they do. The painted fellow is here to purchase albacore to roast in a traditional umu (hot rock oven) as part of the cultural arts demonstrations at the annual Teuila Festival going on all week. The only 'paint' is what you see on his face. The rest is painfully permanent.
Folks like us also buy. We have no competition this early in the morning. Luckily, we found a few cross section cuts of albacore for sale. We bought two at $20 tala each, which translates to less than $10 American each.
Home are the Missionaries, Home from the Market.
I hope to remember this day for a very long time. Everything about this experience was spiritual. The breaking dawn over the harbor, throwing delicate colors across the water; the boats at anchor, the fishermen hauling the night's catch to market, and knowing they will be out on the sea again soon. How many times has this scene been repeated? How many generations have fished these waters, living by, on, and from the sea? I am touched by these people and their connection to the past.
I mentioned that just west of the fish market is the bus station. In other words, this is where it all begins for the buses. There is no terminal. Just a designated place where they line up, all decked out in the colors of the rainbow. Soon they will be jam packed with people sitting on top of each other and hanging out the windows. But for now, there are plenty of seats.
Oh, Samoa, I never will forget you!