June 1st is Samoa’s Independence Day. The day kicks off with the head of state attending a flag raising ceremony, followed by a parade, which features what feels like just about every Samoan in Samoa!
The day is filled with events; there is boat racing, horse racing and a public holiday for both the first and second of June. There is a concert showcasing Samoa’s most talented singing and dancing groups and a festive atmosphere throughout the whole country. It’s a brilliant opportunity for a couple of SWAP Ambassadors who have lived the last six weeks of their lives in Samoa to go and celebrate with the locals!
We failed at our attempt to view the Flag raising ceremony in the rain in Apia first hand – every car in Samoa turned up, leading to traffic jams as far as the eye could see. We decided our best bet was to check out the ceremony on TV at local coffee bar, then continue our celebration of all things Samoa with a trip to the races. Woop!! What an experience that turned out to be!
Matt and I were gathered up by Steve from Platinum Cars (yup, blatant plug there, but Steve’s a top bloke that has kept us entertained for the last few weeks, so fair enough!) and Steve’s main man Denny and off we went! With a fist full of tala in our pockets, grins smacked on our faces and a fleeting hope that we had a wee bit of lady luck on our sides, we placed a our first little bets.
Turns out you shouldn’t put your bet on the horse that you think ‘deserves a little support’ because you don’t think it’ll win due to the jockey being bigger than the horse and being decked out in gumboots. It didn’t win.
There was a hearty lunch on offer – a whole cow was slowly turned on a spit and dished up in a delicious chilli sauce with bread for a paltry ST$5.00,and washed down with an enthusiastic gulp (or two!) of Vailima – nice!
Matt turned out to be the big winner on the day… as it turns out, the more Vailima he drank the sharper his betting skills, the more cash he walked away with! He likes to think that there aren’t to many people that can place a $5 bet and walk away with $272.50 – he might be right!
Samoa hosts horse races twice a year – June 1st and January 1st. If you get the opportunity to go, grab it with both hands! It’s a brilliant day’s entertainment and a sure fire way to celebrate all things Samoa with the locals!