Brit stuck on island 10,000 miles away from family won’t be back until Christmas

A man was enjoying his time in paradise before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Rob Small, 41, has been stuck on a tiny island of Upolu in Samoa, which is approximately 10,000 miles away from the UK, since March.

Although the Pacific Island nation has recorded no cases of Covid-19, it still remains in a state of emergency.

And while most of us dream of being stranded on an island, it's not quite like that for Rob.

The dad believes he won't be able to reunite with his partner Becky and four-year-old son until Christmas.

He says being trapped in paradise is not what most people would imagine it to be.

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Rob said: "I often like to quote a line from the movie 'The Beach' about what paradise means.

"The quote; 'It's not where you go. It's how you feel for a moment in your life when you're a part of something'.

"Well, that's almost true. Being stuck in the middle of the South Pacific, going on five months now with nothing to do and no end in sight has made me realise what paradise actually is and I can identify with that quote.

"Paradise is family and close friends, it's being around them. It's the feeling of happiness that you only ever get when you are in their company (fortunately Skype or Zoom doesn't count) and if you are with them, then the location is completely irrelevant."

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Rob ventured to Upolu, which is the second largest of the Samoan Islands, with an area of 1,125km, to open a diving and water sports centre called Pure Ocean with his business partner Bruno Kinross back in 2016.

He had lived in the Cook Islands managing a dive centre so he knew of Samoa's location and the opportunities it could offer.

There was an opening for a dive centre contract with a Sheraton hotel where Rob and Bruno won it.

Ever since, Rob been splitting his time between Samoa and London where his family live.

He added: "I usually do two months in Samoa and two months in London, so I am away for six months a year roughly from my family.

"In the past I did worry I was losing out on my little boy's life but this time around I have been gone for painfully long."

Rob says tourism in Samoa has "completely died" because of the strict border closures.

His business has been closed since April and he doesn't know when it'll reopen.

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The dad claims getting home would be "near-impossible" because of the global travel restrictions.

Usually his journey back to the UK takes around 38 to 50 hours depending on the transfer times flying to either Sydney or Auckland then connecting to Singapore before heading to London.

Even if Rob returns to the UK, he fears he won't be able to get back to Upolu for his business.

Adding to his fears, the dad was recently a victim of a break-in, with the burglars stealing a range of electronics and all of his clothes.

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With no business to run, Rob has been exploring the island by car and motorbike for the past few months.

He often sits near his home with the pristine blue waters and takes time to think.

Rob speaks with his son and Becky every day at 6:30pm, which is 6:30am in the UK, and calls other friends and family once a week.

The traveller added: "While it's wonderful to have face-to-face communication and a glimpse into a world I don't feel part of right now, I get a feeling talking through the phone or computer, the conversations are different."

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He concluded: "I guess as parents we take it all for granted sometimes.

"My advice to others would be to cherish every moment and put down the games controller, turn off the TV or shut that laptop, turn your phone on silent or just stop working once you are at home.

"The time you have face-to-face with your child is now worth so much to them but worth even more to you.

"Trust me, you don't want to be in the position where Skype is all there is and you don't know when the next hug will be. If you are lucky enough to be with your child every day, then make it count."

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