This is the fourth 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.
Good to know before we begin:
April 20, 1986 - Day two
A really good day. I had breakfast in the Rainmaker's dining room -- a big improvement over the snack bar. I had lots of papaya and pineapple, lamb ribs, fish, eggs, taro with coconut cream. Then I went for a walk, came back and called Pili. He and Gretchen came by with their youngest son Caleb, and we all went for a ride over to the other side of the island to the village where their friends Vernon and Limu live.
Spectacular scenery on the mountain pass. I may drive back up there if I can get a car. Their village is in a little cove -- picture-postcard Samoa. Mostly new style houses, but very pretty -- white stucco, bright colors. All around the village, young men were sitting around grating coconuts. Vernon and Limu's house is modern. We sat around drinking Vailima (beer made in Western Samoa), half-watching movies on their VCR and talking about their jobs and Samoa today.
Vernon teaches Phys Ed at the community college where Pili also teaches. Both said they get several thousand dollars a year for "supplies," but are not allowed to spend it on equipment, which is what they really need. Vernon said the locker-room washing machine has been broken since November. Can't get it fixed or replaced. Pili said he's trying to do an oral history project but doesn't have enough tape recorders and can't get them.The restriction on equipment apparently came because people were ordering video and other equipment and taking it home.
The old fale at the airport was dismantled to be used in a cultural center at the college. But it was done by Public Works Department workers with hammers and saws instead of by craftsmen. It had been put together in the traditional way, with no nails. Pili says it's in storage now and will probably rot before anyone puts it up.
Another local concern is the purse seiners working out of the harbor. They've only been working the area a few years but have already overfished for tuna. The wahoo they just throw away or give to visiting dignitaries. Local people are outraged at the waste.
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.