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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Monday, August 20, 2007

Samoa: two governments, one people

Pago pool flying fox

Our long stay in Pago Pago, American Samoa was interesting, to say the least. The longer we stayed, the lower our spirits sank. Our primary reason for visiting Pago was to receive mail, most of which never arrived. The weather was an endless procession of vicious windy, rainy squalls alternating with hot muggy days. On the hot still days the smell from the tuna canneries that line the bay could bring tears to your eyes. The litter on the water and on shore was overwhelming. Underfed and unhealthy looking dogs lurk in the streets. This small island, with both McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, does not seem to thrive with close association to the United States. The people are friendly, and we were told many times, Apia is nice, we are one people with two governments.

Pago squall

Pago rainy day

There were a couple of major boat dragging incidents, partly because of the wind but also because the bottom didn’t provide good anchor holding – some say because of all of the plastic bags littering the harbor bottom. We felt we could not stray far from Marcy because of danger from dragging, or being dragged upon. Also demoralizing was a mayday call early one morning that ended in a cruiser sailboat sinking just three hours later off the east end of the island. It was unclear what caused the boat to sink but definitely a shocker to all of us in the bay.

The island around the harbor resembled one long strip mall, with some unique Samoan twists.

Pago church

Of course, this being the South Pacific, land of the missionary, there are many churches.

Unique to American Samoa are hundreds and hundreds of front yard graves, some simple like this one:

frontyard grave amsam

Some elaborate like this one:

Pago mausoleum

It was explained to us that this is a recent phenomena, arising out of land disputes. If you plant mom and dad in the front yard, it makes a serious ownership statement!


Open air, communal structures called “fales” are dotted along the road.

pango fale

Apia fale roof

Apia fale curtain

One evening many of the cruisers in the anchorage got together for a Samoan traditional dinner on a nice beach north of Pago.

mmm.. meat

Peter says, yummy, meat! Ginger says, is there anything I can eat here?

Pago traditional feast dancer

After waiting fruitlessly for mail for a month, we decided enough was enough and hoisted anchor for the overnight hop to Apia, the next island over and capital of the independent nation of Samoa. We are fortunate to have met Zero, Southern Star’s paddling coach as he agreed to check our mail and forward anything that comes in the next few weeks. Hopefully our mail will come while there are still cruisers heading our way from Pago.

'Southern Star' gets a paddling lesson AmSam


The anchor chain had grown a sticky sludge during the long stay, so we broke out the pressure washer that we had bought in Mexico.

Cleaning chain Pago


It worked well, but it was still a three hour job to blast all of the muck off.

Pago chain scum


Apia, in contrast to Pago, turns out to be a clean and scenic little city. It may be spiffed up more than usual because this year Apia is the host of the South Pacific Games, due to start in a week. Our anchorage gives a front row view of practicing long boats called Va’a. Each boat has it’s own drummer in the bow to try to keep the stroke well timed for all 40 oarsmen. Sometimes they use a whistle too - it’s a bit like Carnival in Rio.

Apia va'a

long boats in shed AmSam

We also have a good view of the working port. These two well kept tugs maneuver a constant procession of big and small ships onto the quay.

Apia tugs

We went to the Saturday market and picked up delicious fruit and vegetables. It was a very busy place in the market and on the street. It appears that everyone comes to this market on Saturday.

Apia food market

Queen Poto Apia

This being the capitol, there are many government offices. Some of them we just aren’t sure what purpose they serve…..

Office of the regulator Apia

With our spirits rising again we look forward to a week in Apia before we head south to Tonga.

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