"She knows that "home" is not a physical place in the outside world, but an inner quality of relaxation and acceptance. The stars, the rocks, the trees, the flowers, fish and birds -- all are our brothers and sisters in this dance of life." - Osho
The last year for me has been, in a word:
Living on the road comes with both the highs and the lows, and this year has felt mostly like an attempt to keep my head above water.
But every time I close my eyes to escape that sinking feeling of instability, to find the solace and security I so desperately seek -- there's only one place I picture. One place who's spirit, who's aura has lingered in my heart since the moment I stepped foot on it's warm, sun drenched soil. One place where home lies within the gaze of it's locals who are eager to connect across cultural barriers, a place where I can breathe deeper and smile wider than any other place on Earth:
S A M O A.
Invited for Hashtag Travel Society's maiden "Passport Posse" voyage, I joined 5 other women Tess Willcox, Pip Pip Edwards, Emma Kate, Sera Wright, Laura McWhinnie for an island immersion in the South Pacific. Our sanctuary abode, Sinalei Reef Resort, took my breath away from the moment we arrived. Boutique bungalows sprawled across acres of lush, tropical, terrain. Sky high palm trees swayed elegantly in the wind. Waterfront spas and sandy stepped villas seamlessly converged nature with structure. There was a peacefulness and a sacred honoring of the land at Sinalei that I had never experienced at a resort before. The warm staff quickly became family and for the first time in a long time, I felt truly at home.
The diversity in Samoa's landscape left us busy every second. Our sensational host (and one of my favorite humans ever) Tess Wilcox took us on countless adventures across the islands. We chased, waterfalls, swam in the Sua Ocean Trench, surfed crystal clear blue water, visited tree house abodes, and explored underground caves. We took the ferry to Western Samoa and drove in the back of a jeep around the entire island, wind blown hair and sunkissed skin leaving us giggling and begging for more.
Sinalei is a family owned and operated resort, with beaming pride in the Samoan culture and a long history of community contribution. After having the resort demolished in the 2009 tsunami and again after the 2012 cyclone, the family rebuilt the entire resort by hand. They also have helped to rebuild and engage the community by supporting local farms in the food they serve, donating to the local college and hospital, initiating a local arts center, providing community sewing lessons, and establishing a ukulele school. Their efforts in green solutions range widely as they have fought to make the Poutasi Village a Marine Protected Area, utilize solar power, and retrieve water from a local reservoir located right under the resort, free of chemicals and as fresh as can be. There's so much to love about the initiatives of this resort and the care they take in serving their guests is only matched by the care they take for the planet. My experience in Samoa is synonymous with Sinalei, as I truly thrived in the rich traditions shared with me by the beautiful hosts.
I have relived the memories of this week-long adventure for months, drinking in every last scent of frangipani, every taste of fresh pineapple, every pristine, picturesque ocean view as though I were just there yesterday. And although the idea of a permanent "home" may be nowhere in sight for me anytime soon, with the sound of ukulele, the spirit of alofa comes alive, and I am transported to the Samoan sanctuary in my soul.