Return to Paradise ...

...the title of a movie filmed in Samoa in the 50's, but also the title of a Samoan song - a true classic! Some of the lyrics include this line:

“I left my heart in Samoa ....”

my kelikoli ...ha!
Remember that song? ...or you have to be a certain age to recall it? Haa! It’s still around - on Youtube I think. It’s one of those songs that has a profound and unique mesmerizing effect on you as a sojourner. Every time I hear or sing it, I’m immediately lulled and transfixed to a tropical setting like this one >> (my kelikoli pic)

As sojourners and expatriates, it’s always a thrill to take a respite - to relax from our daily jobs and other routine tasks - and do some things that are culturally and ethnically visceral.

This past week, for three days, we had our church (ward) camp. We had the usual activities like barbecues, games, sitting around the fire telling jokes and laughing, etc. We played cricket (Samoan version), volleyball and other games during the day. At night we had skits and singing. I played the acoustic guitar and everyone, especially the older folks who still remember life back in Samoa, sang along to the Samoan oldies. A couple of my peers flanked me helping out with the core singing. Our bishop then joined in with the ukulele and soon the typical faaili i le malae i le po masina was complete. We sang, serenaded, reminisced and relived the good ol’ days in Samoa.

The oldies were harmonized in typical a cappella style of the aufaipese - with the intermittent pati and po (claps). Some in the group could not resist the urge to dance. And dance they did. Some danced uncomely and more comically, climbing the pavilion posts; others danced the siva in a more serious and discreet manner as if dying to relive their younger days, or were just taking advantage of the opportunity to mimic a genuine taupou in a graceful taualuga. All in all, it was a time of urbane fun and revelry for people who seemed to have deep yearnings and memories of a cultured past and proud heritage. The whole atmosphere was one of a fiafia night bordering on typical poula sociability.

Then there were others who resigned to the responsibilities of serving refreshments - either by duty or as a way of avoiding the limelight. These are usually the shy ones. Snacks like masi Saiga, bread with butter and siamu popo (coconut jam) and koko Samoa (Samoan cocoa), of course, were served and which added to the whole native feel and ambience of the night.

In another corner, a group of older men played suipi (Samoan bridge). They too sang along and their chitchats consisted of the usual suipi lingo, punctuated by laughter triggered by a detected crooked play, friendly taunts or by the winners after a hard fought game, and feted by the rest of the players and onlookers.

At one point during the whole joviality, there was a short break and in the silence that followed, I started strumming the C chord and went right into ...

...under the swaying palms

I left my heart in Samoa
Under the swaying palms
There I met my first love
There she’s waiting for me
Calling me back to my dreamland
‘Neath tropical skies
I must return to Samoa
Return to Paradise ....

Everyone seemed to be in nostalgic mood as they listened. Some who knew the song sang along, and a couple ad-libbed their own choreographic gestures. Simply paradisal!

Oh the thrills, excitement and raptures of camping - Hamo style! There are times during which you feel as if you have certainly returned to paradise ...even if just an ephemeral trance.

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