Day 309, Year 1: Careful What You Ask For
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Weather: Sunny, Hot, and Absolutely No Wind
Location: Pago Pago Harbor, Tutuila Island, American Samoa

It is 93 degrees F in the shade, there is not a breeze to be had, and the sun is shining with hardly a cloud in sight. I guess this is what the guide books were referring to when they said that American Samoa can be hot and sultry. They were right.

Mark had a slight change in plans this morning. He was planning to hike the three mile mountain ridge up to Mt. Alava with Brian from Thistledown. But then this morning, Mark decided to see if Glenda and Derek on Scotty would also like to go. They would, but not until tomorrow, so the hike was delayed. Instead, Mark and Brian took the bus out toward the airport to visit the big supermarkets. They first stopped at Cost-U-Less which is a Cosco. Mark says it has the same offerings as a Sam’s Club and he is sure I’m going to want to go there even if I have to crawl through the store. Unfortunately, they don’t have the kind of shopping carts for the handicapped like you do in the US. I’ve decided that either people out here do not have physical disabilities, or if they do, they just stay at home. I’m sure it must be the latter, but I have not seen anyone in a wheelchair or on crutches during our entire trip. Just me!

Brian found some wonderful buys at the Cost-U-Less. He has no refrigeration on his boat and he uses a kind of parmesan cheese that never needs refrigeration. They had that. And he loves hot sauce, but the cost in French Polynesia was not within his budget. A small bottle there cost between $5 and $7 US. Here he got two huge bottles for about $3.50. He was happy. The next stop for them was the K & S Market which is also a US style store, but it doesn’t sell the large quantities and has good produce and meat. You can buy sashimi grade tuna there for $5.00 per pound and that’s what we’ll have for dinner tonight.

Speaking of tuna, I’ve never really described the tuna industry here in any detail for you. The Samoa Packing Company is the user of the “Chicken of the Sea” and “Starkist” labels. America Samoa is one of the world’s largest tuna processors and the most important commercial fishing port under the US flag. Dutch Harbor, Alaska, is a distant second. The greater part of the South Pacific tuna catch is landed here, supplying the US with the bulk of its canned tuna. This alone is worth US$500 million a year. So folks here willingly put up with the smell and pollution.

Unfortunately, our great internet access has been experiencing difficulties since yesterday. We have had a great signal, but cannot get connected. Mark went back into town this afternoon with the computer, but we can’t get the problem resolved. It was great being able to call family and friends and send e-mails anytime of the day or night, so we hope to get this going again. This has been our internet oasis and we have enjoyed it and hope to continue to enjoy it once the problem is resolved.

We ended the day with me putting the first coat of varnish on the wooden Dorade boxes and Mark going into shore to do laundry. We wash all clothes aboard the boat, but we do sheets and towels on land when we have that possibility.

I am so glad that we have the luxury of time here. This island has so much to offer and we have just scratched the surface. We can’t wait to report on future explorations.

060822 Day 309 American Samoa–Chicken of the Sea