Travel: Who Knew There Was So Much Snot and Heartache?

It’s the people, the heart and the story behind the place that define an experience. And as much as it aches to say goodbye, and causes the occasional snot-storm, – that’s what this trip is about.

Left and Leaving. 

It’s a little embarrassing how attached I get to people and places that I love. (My local gym and dentist can expect postcards any day now.) The week before we were embarking on this year-long trek around the world, anyone who ran into me was left ringing my tears and nose slime out of their shirt after the briefest of good bye hugs. 

Um, exactly why are you so sad? I was heading on this amazing adventure and I wanted to take everyone with me.

As we've been traveling, I keep falling in love places and then we have to leave, or we cross paths with people I really, really like and then we move on, or they move on. There’s a constant left and leaving that happens and it wrenches at your heart.  I think the idea is that you are supposed to get used to this, but I never do.

Before we arrived in Samoa I booked us a stay at a fancy resort a few weeks down the road. We’d been living out of a tent for two months in New Zealand and we were about to spend the next few weeks in fales – very rustic open huts on the beach with shared facilities. 

We arrived at a place called Tau Fua in Lalamano Beach (Lonely Planet ranks this as one of the top beaches in the world). While this place would be considered very basic by most people’s standards, it knocked my socks off.

Food was served communally in a dining fale, so you had no choice but to get to know the people next to you.  We met a lovely young French couple who were exceedingly tolerant of our regularly miscreant children.

We’re actually a traveling promotional campaign for birth control and Trojan is sponsoring our trip,” I explained.

“Too late for us!” Morgan smiled. 

They had just found out they were expecting a baby. Just as people’s stories start to unfold, they move on. We met another family from Sweden --also traveling for a year; they were ten months into their adventure. We were only two months into our escapade. As the kids became instant friends, the adults exchanged a plethora of information about life on the road. You guys get any good infections yet? Yeah, what is it with boys and streaky underwear, anyway? But alas a few days later, we had to leave.

Also, this is the most beautiful family ever!

Left and Leaving.

After spending a week at Tau Fua - the rustic Samoan “resort”, we came to know the staff, their children. We learned that in 2009 a tsunami decimated the place and nine people died, including guests, family and children. 

And yet they rebuilt it. They are so positive and kind and on their game, you’d never know the place was destroyed a few years ago. Only when you drive up the coast do you see the tsunami carnage; abandoned houses and desolate resorts all over the place – wreckage from the wave. 

Tau Fua is full of guests who keep returning because you can’t help but fall in love with the place. When we pulled away, clutching a wood carving they'd given us a gift, surrounded by many of the staff, and Jon, the Swedish boy, I had a massive lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I said we’d be back, but I know we live half a world away and it wasn’t likely. 

The kids wrote thank you cards to Bruce - who took great care of all of us at Tau Fua.

Left and leaving.

A few hours later we arrived at the fancy resort I’d booked long before we set foot on Tau Fua. It had an infinity pool and a bar fully stocked with wines I love.  I won’t lie, the outdoor stone rainwater shower and luscious soaps were divine – especially after months of cold, shared showers at campgrounds and fales.

But I missed Tau Fua. It wasn’t luxury – but it had a soul and a story. I thought this expensive bungalow on the beach with all the frills was what I wanted, what I needed.

But it’s the people, the heart and the story behind the place that define an experience. And as much as it aches to say goodbye, and causes the occasional snot-storm, – that’s what this trip is about. That's what life's about.

Left and Leaving.