Before I begin telling about Pago Pago, I have to share a story from getting ready this morning. If you have ever been on a cruise ship you know the cabins and bathrooms aren’t very large, that is especially true on this ship. We have been on over 20 cruises and this bathroom is by far the smallest we have experienced. To give you an idea, there is a sink, toilet and shower all lined up with the only floor space in front of the toilet to stand on. This floor space is about the size of the bath mat – folded in half! I kid you not. I took a shower and prepared to put on my swim suit. This is a one piece, one of those designed to make you look slimmer (not that it works, but I try). Trying to squeeze into one of these is difficult in the best of circumstances, but almost impossible in a steamy bathroom with no room to move. My knees were hitting the toilet, elbows were hitting the door and the sink, and there was no room to move, I thought I might be stuck with the suit only halfway up – not a pretty sight, it is a good thing that there aren’t cameras in the bathrooms, you might see some very disturbing things. Luckily, i survived and made it out the doOr without having to call for help. Anyway, I thought it was worth sharing…now on to the less disturbing images from today!
Another day, another rickety bus! This one was adorned with rainbow colored feather boas above the windshield, plywood floors, and wooden window frames without glass- just a piece of plastic that can be pulled up in case of rain, i cant wait to be able to share some pictures. However, these busses took us on a wonderful tour to see a beautiful island with a amazing beach and lunch stop.
Pago Pago (pronounced pango pango) was hit very hard by a tsunami in 2009 and there are still signs of the devastation such as abandoned buildings and trees dead on top with new growth mid-way up the branches. Signs of their Polynesian culture are everywhere – homes have graves out front, village gathering places are everywhere, and there are more churches than you can count. The main industry and only export comes from the Starkist Tuna factory – not a pleasant place to drive by! Not all is beautiful but American Samoa is still an amazing and lovely place to visit.
We began with a tour of the island, since it is almost 29 miles around it didn’t take very long; however, none of the roads go all the way around the island so there were times we had to backtrack our route. Views from the mountaintop were spectacular, the beach was beautiful and the surf crashing on to the shore was just as you would imagine. Our tour took us to Tisa’s Barefoot Beach Bar (Tisa was our guide for the day), it was settled in on a hillside and could easily have been missed if we had been traveling on our own.
Tisa’s bar was totally constructed from reclaimed materials found around the island, there wasn’t anything fancy, just a place to sit and drink a local beer and enjoy the beach. The water was clear and warm and great for cooling off. Lunch was served after being cooked all morning over hot rocks and included local cuisine of turkey, lamb, pork, sweetbread, bananas, and more. Looking around all we could see was the bar and the beach area with waves crashing lightly to shore – it was perfect. Tisa made everyone feel welcome and answered all questions, she was the perfect ambassador for her village and island. Unfortunately, we had to leave to return to the ship well before we were ready to head back.
American Samoa was exactly how we had pictured a South Pacific island to be – it had beautiful beach areas, lovely scenery, friendly residents, and was a wonderful place to spend a day!