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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pago Pago, American Samoa – Week 3

photo by Jim

photo by Jim

Mount Alava Trail:

There are numerous hiking trails on the island of Tutuila. I wanted to come back to a clean and tidy boat before we took off so insisted that we leave for our trip after chores... and so we got a late start. It was a sweaty, hideously steep transit from the anchorage up to the beginning of the trail – I almost turned around. Carolyne complained and balked at every step – and I might have agreed with her except that I had to save face in front of my husband, who claimed I would “never make it”. It was a cloudy day, but all three of us were soaking wet by the time we reached the trail head at Mt. Alava. It was totally worth the effort - he view was breathtaking!

What is left of the tramway atop Mt. Alava following a terrible

 plane accident

 in 1980

photo by Jim

Nature... in alien form     photo by Jim

photo by Jim

I believe we all got our second wind and eagerly began the winding trail through the rainforest. Unfortunately, we didn't get far. Because we started so late, the mosquitoes were in full force! And when Carolyne lost something on the trail and wanted to back-track to find it, we decided to make the trip again at a later date... next time starting much earlier in the morning and bringing a larger bottle of insect repellent.

Fa'a Samoa – the Samoan Way:

Carolyne arrived at her first day of classes last week only to be told to come back at 1pm for Registration. And at the point that she was finally registered she was then directed to return the following morning for a placement exam. Carolyne was stressing a bit because she had wanted to begin her first day with everyone else … when everyone is new. But she shouldn't have worried. After her placement exam we were told all the the students had been released for another week. The school administrators were very slick and told us it was due to unfinished renovations in one wing of the building. But the news on the radio was that the principal at her school had been fired and refused to leave. That was a bit of drama, which the villagers found quite entertaining. We still don't really understand.

Decked out in school uniform

You-know-who... caring for a stray mama and her pups

Cruiser Relationships:

We had really hoped to meet new people (cruisers and expats) through the Pago Pago Yacht Club we had heard so much about. It was disappointing to learn that the club is no more... it dissolved a year or two ago - something political with the governor's office. Then, we received an email from Chuck, a cruiser friend in Argentina, who offered to connect us with his friend living in American Samoa. (Cruisers tend to be wonderful in this way!) The same day, Michael called us and Jim and he made plans to meet for lunch in the future. Hopefully, we'll get some information on what jobs may be available, expat venues and other tips and helpful hints.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pago Pago, American Samoa – Week 2

Beautiful, yet blustery, Pago Pago anchorage

Lovely local girl

Decorating for Labor Day

Two men taking a lunch break wearing traditional lava-lava (or sarongs)

Wet & Windy Weather Week:
It blew like stink for an entire week... 25+ knots... with no reprieve! Rain, rain and more rain. And I know while some of our friends are waiting out serious droughts in other parts of the world... desperate for even a single drop of rain... that I shouldn't be complaining. But wet dinghy rides – getting drenched in sudden cloud bursts – saturated right down to your undies – salty hair plastered quite undignified-like (and only on one side!) after being slapped around by saltwater waves – plastic poncho doing very little to ward off the wet... changing into dry clothes AGAIN... finding yet another place to try and dry out wet clothing... well, after a week it's a little much. Factor in restless sleep as the boat shudders and mutters endlessly throughout the night? That's a recipe for Cranky Crew.

'The Healing Garden'- memorial to those lost in the 2009 tsunami
located in the village of Leone

Nicest surprise:
I just met a cruiser (from Dallas) who is a friend of a non-cruising friend of mine (who also lives in Dallas, but with whom I became dear friends in San Antonio over 20 years ago)... who happens to be crewing on a boat that is anchored in the same anchorage as Hotspur right here in American Samoa! Greg and I finally met after missing each other in Tahiti and then again in Bora Bora. And what a delight he is... we chatted for hours like old friends! (Thank you, Mark, for introducing me to Greg!) I just love small world encounters.

Windblown in Pago Pago with my new friend Greg 
Luckiest in Line:
I was first in line... that's right... #1... to buy Samsung UNLOCKED cell phones for only $15 each! It was a Blue Sky promotion and I arrived well over an hour before time to start the line (and I looked a bit pathetic standing there hungrily all by my lonesome)... but I saved $70 locally (almost $200 had I purchased from Amazon!)!! And I didn't look so pathetic walking away from that mile-long-line that accumulated behind me with my cell phones and free T-shirts (that are way too big for any of us but they were FREE!). Yep... I'm a cheap cruiser. With my cheap cell phones for the family. Uh-huh... uh-huh... uh-huh...

And, after minimal effort, we have Carolyne enrolled in school! She starts 9/2.

One of the numerous fabric stores on the island...
we paid less than $7 for Carolyne's school uniform material!

Wam-V that will be following the Hokule'a and photographing the adventure
Good Deeds:
Carolyne was out of bed at sunrise for the spay and neuter clinic. She loves to volunteer and did so many times while in Mexico. She jumped at the opportunity in the Village of Leone here on the island. Numerous cats and dogs were brought in for free vaccines, de-worming and prohibitive procreation operations. The state of the pets here on the island is pretty dim. Mange, starvation, ticks and fleas... it's pretty bad. I think maybe worse than in Mexico.

Tanya preparing injections

Steve getting sleepy pup ready for ear tattoo tag number and belly shave

Zeke and Nina came along to help, too

Kitty ready for surgery

This friendly kitty is the stray
McDonald's cat... eaten alive by mange
 ( crew on sv Trade Winds rescued him- Carolyne and
 I will check on him next week

It is always the saddest part of cruising – saying “so long” to friends. Sv Mojombo departed on their way to Western Samoa, then to Fiji and finally back home to Tasmania.

Vicki, Nina, Gary and Zeke