The Samoan Islands lie in the South Pacific Ocean, just to the east of the International Date Line, and are thus the last places to see the sunset each day.
My recent visit was the first for nearly 40 years. Naturally I expected to see some changes. Sure, there were new and bigger buildings to be seen about the capital, Apia. The roads around the islands had improved out of sight, and Aggie Grey's Hotel had been enlarged and modernised to meet international standards.
But many things remained the same: the laid-back atmosphere of not doing things in too much of a hurry; the warm friendliness of the Samoan people, who still seem to go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome; the golden sand beaches, where the tepid water allows you to swim and snorkel year round. And the reverence still showed for the memory of the Tusitala, the renowned Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent the last four years of his life in Samoa. It is still regarded as a pilgrimage to climb Mount Vaea to visit his tomb, and read his epitaph inscribed upon it. But now you can visit his home at Vailima, which has been lovingly restored to the time of the Stevenson's occupation, a highlight of my visit to Samoa, and surely for that of anyone who grew up with Treasure Island, Kidnapped, or any other of Stevenson's works.