Day 327, Year 1: Moving On to the “Other” Samoa
Date: Saturday, September 9, 2006
Weather: Rain During the Night; Beautiful, Sunny Day
Location: Overnight Passage to Upolu Island, Samoa
It is about a quarter to eight in the evening and we are currently sailing along the south coast of Tutuila Island, American Samoa, and making our overnight passage to Upolu Island, Independent Samoa. It is interesting to see the island from out here. It is all lit up and we became so familiar with the island that we can recognize the villages from here. We leave behind an island of stunning physical beauty. It has its problems trying to be both American and Samoan, and probably the one most damaging thing that has happened to the culture in American Samoa is the existence of US welfare. WIC, Food Stamps, Unemployment, and general Welfare have changed the way people live. There’s no way to go back to the way things were, so I hope that the wonderful people of American Samoa can find a way to mesh the old and new and come up with something better than both.
We are so glad that we were able to spend an entire month here. This gave Mark a chance to relive his experiences here in the late 1960’s, and it gave us a chance to make lasting friendships. Evelyn Bowles Weilenman was so gracious and gave us a wonderful introduction to the island. We know we will keep in touch with her and through her we will keep in touch with American Samoa. Micah and Faaiuga van der Ryn and their delightful children welcomed us into their home and gave us a glimpse of modern day Samoan life. Micah gave us a wonderful video about Samoa that he produced as well as the video done when Mark was working in Samoa. Both of these videos document the Samoan culture and we feel so privileged to be leaving with them. Thank you, Micah. Reconnecting with Fa’fatai last night was the perfect ending to our time in American Samoa. She was able to help Mark fill in the memory gaps and it was great fun to hear them talking about the good old 1960’s in American Samoa. I somehow feel that we will return here to visit again, so I’m not saying a final farewell.
Today was another busy, busy time. There was more grocery shopping to do, more water to get to fill our tanks, a final check at the post office for a package we have been expecting (which did not arrive), laundry to do, saying good-bye to friends in the anchorage, and then getting the boat ready to go. We did a final e-mail check using that wonderful (but not always reliable) wireless internet connection and had a wonderful Skype conversation with our daughter Heather and her husband Jed. Heather had her webcam on and I got to see Heather and Jed and Heather’s pregnant little belly for the first time. That was definitely the highlight of my day. To this point, the day had been busy but it had been productive. But then when we tried to pull up the anchor, our first troubles of the day began. A rope from a nearby mooring caught around our prop and threatened to keep us in Pago Pago Harbor yet another day. Mark had to jump in the water and dive down again and again to get the line from around our prop. Finally, just before sunset we sailed away. Life aboard this sailing vessel is never dull!