I apologize for the lack of blog posts this week, but it really isn’t my fault. Internet here has been down since Tuesday morning and we are on island time now. Sometimes it’s an individual connection problem, sometimes it’s one town, and sometimes it’s the whole island. Outages last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Sometimes a week or more. You never know around here. But I’ve been typing away each night hoping the internet will come back at any moment. It’s a few long posts so just read what you want. I attached plenty of pictures to keep it interesting though!
Monday was a typical day of orientation sessions in the morning, but we had a break from 11am-4pm. A group of us grabbed a quick sandwich, caught an aiga bus towards Pago Pago, and stopped at the beach with the twin rocks that we took a picture at on day one. The tide was out so the water was very shallow but the snorkeling was still great. The water is so clean and so clear here. There was a pool between the closer rock and the beach deep enough to do a little ‘swimming’/soaking. If you headed out a little further you were right over the reef. The water was shallow so you had to pick your way between the coral but the tide was almost nonexistent so it was easy to swim in between the corals without hitting anything. We saw many different types of coral, tons of tropical fish, blue starfish, an eel, countless sea cucumbers, and a mystery sea serpent/worm thing. The island/rock that is further out had hundreds of flying fox hanging from the trees and circling the island. After a few hours we caught a bus back to Nu’uuli and finished the day out with one more session.
Tuesday morning we had orientation sessions but after lunch we took a field trip to the new National Park Service of American Samoa Visitor’s Center to learn more about the amazing natural resources on the island and get some information on the free programs NPS offers to us as teachers. The NPS visitor’s center just had its grand reopening in April. The previous center was destroyed during the tsunami in 2009 and a lot of rebuilding had to be done. But the new visitor’s center is really nice and we learned a lot about our new island home. The National Park of American Samoa is the only US park south of the equator and all of the land is leased instead of owned by the park service. Land can’t be sold in AmSam – it all belongs to families and the people.
We also learned a fun fact about American Samoa and Western Samoa. Am Sam is very close to Western Samoa but is supposedly about 2 million years younger. That is what makes the shoreline so different between the two countries. The reef is very close to shore here and the waves crash close to the beach. Western has great surfing but Dr. Mike, the doctor from California we met at LBJ Hospital last week, warned us that the water here isn’t great for learning to surf because of the rocky coast line and the amount of coral you will get beat up on if you fall in the wrong spot. That’s not the case in Western though. I’m hoping to make it to Western this year to check out the island for myself.
Wednesday was an equally exciting day. After our morning sessions we had a quick lunch and boarded the bus for another field trip. We hiked up to Blunts Point to explore and talk about cultural adjustment. Blunts Point is home to several large canons that were used during WWII to protect the island from Japanese invasion. American Samoa is home to the only natural deep water harbor in this half of the pacific which makes it very desirable. The hike was actually fairly easy and the view was spectacular. We met 2 Samoan girls who will be seniors at Tafuna. They asked for pictures with us and stayed to chat for a while. After the hike we took a trip down the street to the village of Utulei to get some homemade ice-cream from Samu’s. We sat on the rocks along the edge of the Pago Pago harbor and took in the views while we ate our ice-cream.
Later on we hiked back to Nu’uuli falls. It hadn’t rained in a few days so the waterfall was flowing a little less, which meant we were able to go swimming in the pool below.