This is the second installment in a series of posts commemorating a very memorable journey.
Thirty-five years ago, I paid a visit to American Samoa. At that time, it had been twenty years since I left there after spending one of the most unforgettable years of my life on the main island of Tutuila -- a year chronicled in my memoir Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta (Behler Publications, 2019).
In this series of posts, I'm sharing excerpts from my 1986 travel journal, along with photos from the trip.
A few notes of clarification:
April 18, 1986 - First night
At first I think I'll just go to my room, clean up and sleep. Then I decide to call this woman Ruby Tuia, who was supposed to pick me up at the airport. There follows an absurd conversation in which I try to tell the person who answers (Ruby is out) that I'm calling to tell her I did get in and am at the hotel. She says, "But a Miss Ross already came in -- aren't you that person?"
Finally, we realize that I am calling another number in the hotel from the front desk, and the person I'm talking to is the woman who checked me in. We laugh -- it breaks the ice.
I decide to give dinner a try. First she brings out a bowl of tepid cream of tomato soup, and I figure I'm getting standard tourist fare. Then she brings a big covered plate and lifts to top to reveal a whole spread of Samoan food -- raw fish, palusami, pisupo, boiled bananas, rice balls. It's wonderful, especially the palusami. I pass on dessert, fearing Samoan pudding. (Dinner was $6.)
Now I'm in my room. Until a few minutes ago, I could hear music drifting in from somewhere -- the same kind of music I remember: electric guitars. And ever since I got off the plane, I've smelled that smell -- that heady mixture of ginger and plumaria, rain and coconut oil. I wish I could bottle it and bring it out for a sniff whenever I need to feel secure and peaceful.
Tomorrow, if all goes as expected (and nothing has yet), I'll get to the Rainmaker, get myself organized, call home, go downtown, and start trying to renew old acquaintances.
Now I'll try to go to sleep. The music has started again, and outside my window are Samoan voices.
But first I have to describe my room: mint green cinder block walls; floor covered in a patchwork of different patterns of no-wax tile -- mostly in shades of green, gold and brown, with splashes of Delft blue and terra cotta. The curtains are a different shade of mint green with a palm leaf pattern. The bedspreads are brown and gold tapa designs. There's a refrigerator in the corner, but it was only plugged in when I checked in so I'm not terribly comforted by it.
There's a huge closet -- without hangers.
But the pièce de résistance is the table lamp on a long, low bench beside the bed. The shade alone is about the size of a 55-gallon drum, and the rest of the lamp is to scale.The base is iridescent white with simulated hand-painted flowers on it. I think the lamp is bigger than the bed.
Well, time to start relaxing.
To be continued . . .
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.