Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Squally Weather

It has been an exciting night and day for the sailors in Pago Pago Harbor. 20-30 knot winds and the notoriously poor holding caused several  boats to drag their anchors. Twister is tied up to the dock, but I have been preoccupied by the abandoned longline fishing boat tied up in front of me. If the boat breaks free, Twister will be in its path. I supplemented its ratty collection of partially chafed dock lines hopefully sufficiently to last a few more days.
Yesterday I went with a few of the long-time cruising residents to a Samoan Umu cookout. The hosts were Jay (an American palagi--ie white person) and Mae (his Samoan wife). The dishes (which were all cooked on the umu) included breadfruit, goat, fish, taro leaves, and papaya--all cooked or served with coconut milk. Delicious.
The previous several days have been mostly occupied with boat projects--replacing one of the solar panels, replumbing the sink drainpipe, changing the oil on the inboard diesel engine, replacing the jibsheets (which were close to chafed in half), moving the chartplotter inside the cabin and placing it on an adjustable arm, attempting to refurbish the foot-pump that delivers water to the faucet, patching the canvans dodger (the blue canvas thing that gives some shelter to the cockpit), and fixing some dings on my and Corie's (from Rutea) surfboards.
Thoughts on AS (American Samoa):
conservative AS
In contrast to French Polynesia, the people of AS seem to live disconnected from the ocean. Very few of them have watercraft of any kind; they don't surf or dive. The commercial fishing boats are crewed by Filipinos, Chinese, and Western Samoans, and Tongans. I would guess that the tuna canneries or the government are the biggest employer here. American Samoans seem to me to be heavily built and most carry some extra weight on top of the sturdy foundation. Though there are some American fast-food restaurants and shops, AS is much less American than I had expected. Everyone knows English, but Samoan appears to be the everyday language. I estimate that about 50% of the men and women (and all the school children as part of their uniforms) wear lava lavas (skirts) rather than shorts or trousers. The society is relatively conservative--church attendance on Sunday is the norm, everyday at six in the evening, a bell is rung in every village signalling prayer time, and bikinis are nonexistent. The bell is invariably an old compressed gas cylinder hanging from a tree or other support. There is no tourism here that I can tell and palagis are few, so locals are often curious about what I'm doing me here.

I hope to move on to Apia in (formerly known as Western) Samoa within the next couple of days. I appreciate all the packages I have received. If you are contemplating but haven't yet sent one, please don't send it to Pago Pago. I will do some research to find the best general delivery post office in my upcoming stops.

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