Kayak4Youth Blog Day 11

Salani River to Taufua Beach Fales in Lalomanu

Andy Warton pulls up at the Taufua Beach Fales as Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti and the Samoa Cultural Village Dance Group welcome him in fine Samoan tradition

Andy Warton pulls up at the Taufua Beach Fales as Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti and the Samoa Cultural Village Dance Group welcome him in fine Samoan tradition

Up early after a late – but great – night, I was on my way to Lalomanu. To me this was psychologically the most difficult part of the journey only because I could see my destination. On previous legs I couldn’t see the end point and it made it easier to break the distance up into sections.

This time was different. But I pushed on and peddled pretty much six hours out of the mouth of the Salani River all the way to Lalomanu.

While the trip was difficult there were some spectacular sights that helped me to focus. One of these was the massive flocks of birds that were circling around me in all directions.

Like me they were on the hunt for a catch of the day – but due to the high tide no bird or man was successful – the fish were safe. I really thought I was going to hook up too.

So I reeled in and kept on towards the two islands off Lolomanu – Nu’ulua and Nu’utele – watching them get closer and closer over six hours in very small increments. I just had to keep putting one foot after another.

Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti and the Samoa Cultural Village Dance Group welcoming Andy Warton and the Kayak4Youth team into Lolamanu

Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti and the Samoa Cultural Village Dance Group welcoming Andy Warton and the Kayak4Youth team into Lolamanu

The last two hours were very difficult as the headwind was straight at me. At one stage I took a 10 second break and was pushed back five metres. I simply couldn’t stop and I was exhausted.

This leg was my marathon on water – and despite how tired I was I was going to cross that finish line.

Then I saw the Lalomanu beach. For those of you that don’t know, this was the village that was left devastated after the 2009 tsunami. Not that you would know it now – the resilience of the people there is amazing. They are some of the most spirited and warm people you will ever meet.

So there I am with about 50 metres to go before I reach the Taufua Beach Fales and I look up and see two torches had been lit. As I got closer I realised I was being greeted by Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti and the Samoa Cultural Village Dance Group. That was an awesome sight.

The Cultural Group performed with traditional fire sticks and then Miss Samoa performed a welcoming dance or siva. Definitely one of the highlights of the journey.

Thank you to the Samoan Tourism Authority and Miss Samoa – after such a challenging day to see such rich Samoan culture come alive on the beach was well worth the seven hours in the water.

You guys have been with me from the start and I am so proud you have been with me to the end.

Andy Warton taking in the beautiful Samoan welcome

Andy Warton taking in the beautiful Samoan welcome

After the sensational cultural welcome (which will be pretty hard to top from here on in anywhere in the world) I packed up and settled into the night.

By this stage the replacement mast still hadn’t arrived. There is a possibility we will get it soon, but like so much of this journey there are no guarantees.

As it is day 11 I don’t think I will see it now – but it will not hold me back – I was paddle and peddle my way into Apia harbor – which will hurt, but it will be worth it.

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