Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grand Samoan Adventure Grand Finale Part 2: Water

I woke up the next day, Sunday, feeling better. Today I was going to journey to the end of the world!

But first, I had to figure out how I was going to get there.

The woman that was running the hotel and her sister were nice enough to give me breakfast in their kitchen. We talked a lot about where I would go and how I would get there. I eventually decided to round the island in a clockwise direction, so that I could go to all the cool touristy things in the village of Fagamalo while they were open on Monday, seeing as everything Samoan is closed on Sunday. They were very helpful and came up with a plan for me to see most of the island.

And it was terrifying.

I don't remember a lot of it, but it involved, among other things, about 6 different bus transfers. Including one at about 5 AM Monday morning on the opposite end of the island and another that involved riding a bus for more than a full circuit for some reason. And they were totally serious. I guess if you've spent your entire life on the island you don't understand what its like to not know where anything is,¹ or how wandering around in a strange place in the dark hoping to find a bus stop before you miss the one bus of the day might seem like a bad idea.

Welp, somehow they convinced me to try this, and assured me that God would be with me. They had a point with that one. I'm fairly sure that my surviving two years on the Rock, and even getting the job there in the first place² are divine miracles of some sort. Revving up my adventurous spirit, I decided to give it a try. They generously gave me some mangoes and New Zealand-style biscuits and sent me on my way.

A few minutes in, I convinced the taxi driver, a relative of theirs who was taking me to the bus stop, to just escort me around the rest of the day for 100 Tala. We forged on, under a threatening sky, to the end of the world!

A really threatening sky.

First stop on my free tourist map was the Nuu Black Sand Beach. Believe it or not, the sand there is...black! I asked the taxi driver about it, assuming he'd know exactly where it was, and he drove past it without a clue as to where it was. We asked someone at the next house we found a couple of miles up the road where it was, and then drove back and found it.

Guess what color the sand was?

Answer: A mix between black and regular sand color. Lots of volcanic sand.

Welp, next up were the Alofaaga Blowholes, one of the top tourist attractions in the country. The driver knew exactly where these were- In the village of Taga, waaayyyy off the beaten path. He drove to the turnoff of the main road, then about a mile down a bumpy unpaved and ungraveled road with no one in sight. Then, in the middle of nowhere, there was a small fale where a man collected entry fees to see the blowholes. We paid him and kept going. It was about another mile down the path until we actually got there.

We arrived at the blowholes, which are a series of natural tunnels in lava rock next to the ocean. When waves crash through them, the water shoots out like a geyser. And it's awesome. The taxi driver filled up the water jug for his car's radiator while I looked around for things like coconuts to throw into the blowhole and watch shoot out.

And here's the big one in action:

Or maybe more like just barely in action, then not in action, and then totally in action.

And then while leaving, we realized that I had crossed a white line that no tourist was supposed to cross, for fear of them getting knocked over by the blowhole waves and maybe even washed out to sea. And the line was about as far back as I was when I took the above video. I seem to have crossed it while standing right next to the blowhole. Oh well.

Once back on the road, the driver insisted we stop at this one okay-looking overlook, which was really just an excuse to put more water in his car's sketchy radiator, which was close to overheating.

Eh, the east side of American Samoa has better.

We made it about another 20 miles before steam started rising up from under the hood. We pulled off and went to a house. The taxi driver, plenty dedicated to his work, grabbed his water jug, ran out into the pouring tropical rain, and asked the homeowner if he could have some water that was gushing from his overflowing rain catcher.

Pictured: Exactly what I just described.

I went back to wondering what I was doing.

(To be continued).

¹An Island Trope I never got into an entry- Directionless- If everyone you know has spent their entire life on a single island, they never need directions. Thus, you won't really know how to give directions when you meet someone from a different place.
²A pretty interesting story that I'm surprised I never blogged about.
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