My first semester of teaching is almost over and I am now more than half way through my year with WorldTeach. As much as I love Manu’a it was time for a break, so we boarded the tiny cloud filled Inter Island plane on Friday the 20th and headed for Pago. As soon as we landed we caught a bus to the bank, completed the hour long process to make a withdrawal, and then headed back to the airport and bought tickets on the first available flight to Apia, Samoa, which happened to be 7pm on Sunday the 22nd. Samoa is a separate country from American Samoa but is similar culturally. Apia is the capital and is on the island of Upolu, which is much bigger than Tutuila. Samoa lies just over the dateline from American Samoa so travel gets interesting.
Our flight was scheduled to depart Pago at 7pm on the 22nd and last about 45 minutes but because of the time zone change we wouldn’t arrive until the evening of the 23rd. Flights got delayed and we didn’t end up departing Pago until about 10:30 pm on the 22nd. When we landed it was 12:15 am on the 24th. I entirely skipped December 23rd.
Upon landing at the International Airport we waited for our bags which had been put on the flight landing at 2am. Since currency exchanges were closed we found a cab driver nice enough to accept our US dollars and headed to our hotel for a few hours sleep before exploring the city which includes crazy things like 4 lane traffic and stop lights. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that even though the tap water is not drinkable without boiling, our hotel shower had hot water. A few glorious showers followed before we decided its just too hot for that most days and reverted to cold water only. We spent Christmas swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at the Palolo Marine Reserve. It doesn’t get much better than that. The rest of the week was spent traveling to beaches, waterfalls, trenches, markets, restaurants, and more. Upolu offers the best if both worlds- there is a big city and gorgeous remote villages all on one island.
The week concluded with an amazing evening out in the city to celebrate New Years. Samoa is the first place in the world to ring in the New Year, but we didn’t stop there. After a long and very interesting night we got a whole 2 hours of sleep before catching an 8:30 am flight back to American Samoa, which involved crossing the dateline once again. Deciding which date to put on customs forms when you time travel isn’t easy… But when we landed it was only 8 am on December 31st, meaning we got to do New Years 2014 all over again!
Our flight back to Manu’a is scheduled for Wednesday the 8th. Review week begins the 6th and finals are the following week. WorldTeach mid service is tomorrow and then the next few days will be filled with shopping to replenish supplies for 2nd semester and writing finals. I’m a little sad vacation is almost over, but as much as I loved Samoa I’m ready to be home in Manu’a.