Friday, April 30, 2010

A Tale of Lua Samoas, Part Six

Wow. I expected to tell everything about my trip to Indie Samoa back in February in two or three entries. Anyhow, this entry should be enough to wrap it up.

Fagali'i Airport from the runway. All of it.

If you haven't figured it out¹ by now, the titles of this blog miniseries means "A Tale of Two Samoas." The two groups of islands share a common culture, landscape, and a lot of other things that it's too late at night to get into, but on another level they're very different.

I actually had something really long written out about exactly how they were different, but it basically came down to "Independent Samoa is way nicer because they have to earn their own money (as opposed to getting a ton of grants from the U.S.) and have to keep everything clean and at least halfway functioning in order to keep the tourists and business partners coming back. I have the long version of that saved where I really stretch out an old comparison of American Samoa to a career college student about as far as it will go and might get around to posting it some day.

I also realized how many Samoans living in AmSam are really from Independent Samoa, aren't all that crazy about The Rock, and just there to work. Kinda like me. Except for that part about being from Samoa.

Reefs off Upolu

I don't really have much more to say for this entry. Just enjoy the pictures of the flight back.


Approaching Cape Taputapu, the westernmost corner of Tutuila.

Getting closer...

Wait a second, am I going back to..?


¹Googled it

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Living in a quasi-third world territory with significant leftover tsunami damage, infrastructure here isn't all that great. There are power outages once every two months or so, and it's gotten worse since our friend Mike let his contract as CEO of the territorial power authority expire. In fact, there was a power outage just tonight. Allow me to break down how it went:

7:30 PM- Power went out abruptly.
7:35- Air conditioning is gone. Fear, denial begin to set in. Animal instincts start taking over.
7:40- Where did light go? Forage to find light. Find ancient flashlight so bright it once banned from Boy Scout campouts. Cave bright again!
7:45- Forage for food. Find hot food on stove, almost as if it had been there before power outage. Can't remember that far back, too long ago. Food good!
7:50- Airport officials take flashlight. Say they need to borrow it so 767 can land on runway safely.
7:55- Try to make own electricity by rubbing two stray cats together. Only a few sparks.
8:00- Try again, but add some car batteries and wire. Accidentally discover fire instead. Fire hot! Fire awesome! Find candle with picture of man named San Jose.* Wonder why man named after city in California. Fire burn candle!
8:10- Candle burns itself out. Adam laugh at absurdity of it all (and at bad pun about San Jose). Adam only pawn in game of life.
8:15- Realize I never made bed. Fashion crude stone tools, skin leopard to make a bed.
8:20- Can't let food in fridge go to waste. Mix animal blood with taco sauce from fridge to make paint. Begin work on elaborate cave painting.
8:30- Power came back on. Decided to finish cave painting.

*Readers with good memories will get it

Thursday, April 15, 2010


At least it happened in Hawaii and not here:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Tale of Lua Samoas, Part Five

So after brunch, we went out to see Apia during the day.

The original Mr. LavaLava's, named after Samoa's first pimp daddy.

A Coke bottled in the Vailima plant.
750 ml. That's, what? 10 gallons?

So then we went out for a drive to find a nice beach to swim at. Problem was, it was Sunday, and most people here don't allow swimming on a Sunday, because...they don't know, actually. And I've asked. It's just an unquestioned tradition. So we drove around for a while looking for beaches where we could swim.

Canada? What are you doing way out here?
Useless fact: In my nearly 18 months of living in the Samoas, I have met people from as far away as Italy and Madagascar, but never any Canadians.

We went to another nice beach where we weren't allowed to swim.

As far as we could tell, this is what Canada is building there, very close to that same beach. They're climate change-proof fales or something.

So we went down a different road.
And passed some horses, the first ones I've seen since I left home. It was such an unexpected sight to see one by the road, it might as well have been a llama.
So then we arrived at the waterfall.

It has a nice overlook at the top of the steps.
This is actually one of two of Kolio's neighbors who went with us that I haven't mentioned yet.

And we finally got to go swimming here. But I don't have any pictures of that, because I was, you know, swimming.
It's actually a lot bigger than it looks in this pictures. And a lot less overexposed.

That's better.

It made for some really great swimming. It was deep enough that I couldn't even sense where the bottom was, which meant that you could jump in from some fairly high places. The current right below the waterfall is also pretty strong (pushing you away from the waterfall, not anything dangerous).

Then I had to get ready to go back to the Rock. But I still have one more entry to write about my trip back and some general reflections that finally explain the title that I've been using for this series of posts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Tale of Lua Samoas, Part 4

So the next day, back at Kolio's, we start the day with a nice breakfast that I don't have any pictures of. But for lunch, everything is cooked on an umu. Umus are made as follows. A lot of these pictures are pretty blurry, but I'll try to remember what I can.

1. Start a small fire and let it burn a bit. Either that or put tinfoil over a bunch of reddish logs.

2. Dump the hot coals off of the sheet of metal onto a pile of rocks. Put out any remaining fire by stabbing it with a pointed stick.

3. Put a couple of foods, such as uh...yellow-looking things right up next to the coals.

4. Yeah, this one really does involve tin foil. Wrap up whatever it is you're cooking and get it ready. And make sure you have plenty of leaves.

5. Tinfoil things
Hot Coals

Yeah, sometimes I'm too lazy to use sentences.

6. Put more leaves on top of the whole shebang. That should make it all oven-like.

This dog is eating breadfruit. Your argument is invalid.

7. Take pictures of dogs behind you while you wait for it to cook.

8. If you want to split open coconuts, sit on the wooden part of this thing and spike them on the pointy metal part. But you really should have done that before we started cooking. What's wrong with you? Haven't you done this before? Sheeish!*

8. When it's done, it should look something like this. Especially if you put a leaf-basket on top.

*No, they didn't do that part out of order, I just took that picture out of order. That's the joke. They know what they're doing.