This is the fifth 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.
April 21 - Connecting with friends
The days are so full I can't begin to record everything. Today I began to feel comfortable here -- like I used to.
Pili and I drove around the west end of the island and over to the north shore. Fantastic scenery -- blue water, dense jungle, white beaches -- Samoa at its best. Met his friends Tui and Donna (Tui is Sualua's younger brother) and the Baptist missionary from Eureka, California.
Pili dropped me off at Jeannette's, where I had dinner with her and Gordon and their family (3 kids). Padilla and his wife stopped by. Jeannette and I went back to the hotel; had coffee and a good talk. [Several paragraphs of personal details from that conversation omitted for privacy.]
After coffee, we went up to the bar, where Fatima and Pat Galea'i and some other people were drinking -- sat with them for a couple of hours. Had a good time, but they were getting rowdy.
I'm glad I found Jeannette, though. She's very intelligent, thoughful, concerned with world affairs. Tomorrow we're going to go for a drive on the east end of the island; also to find some more people -- Fipa [Fibber], Robin, and others.
April 23 - Stormy weather
One of those highs-and-lows days. Right now I'm in my room with a fierce tropical storm raging outside. I can hear the wind whistling outside -- palm trees blowing all around. Power just went out.
April 24 - Continued connections
Had to stop writing last night because the power went out again. Really bad storm last night. [What follows are further details from April 23.]
Jeannette and I met for lunch at the airport. I bought some stuff from her friend's shop there. Then we went to see Fipa, who is a mechanic for the Department of Transportation. Fipa looks much the same. No front teeth, less hair, but still the same Fipa.
Tonight we all met for dinner at Soli & Mark's: Pili, Robin Annesley, Jeannette, Padilla and Teuilla (his wife), Fipa, Fatima, Abe Malae and I. It was a great time. I sat between Abe and Pili most of the time. Abe told us how he got into Motown music. Now he has just about everything ever recorded, plus lots of other stuff from that era. He asked Pili and me what other records he should order from the Columbia record club. He also told me that Lee Iacocca is his personal hero.
It's funny the things people remember. Abe remembered that I was from Stillwater, Oklahoma. He also remembered the party invitations for my birthday, and that I asked him if he thought it was OK for me to have a party when I was running for student council vice president. I used to confide in Abe a lot.
Fipa remembered me telling him I was going back to the States for cancer treatment. He says we had this conversation up on Mt. Alava. I don't remember it.
Pili is embarrassed about being a goof-off in high school. But we all thought he was very personable. We envied him for that.
Abe decides we should all go to Manu'a with him tomorrow (Thursday). He has to go over to inspect public works projects. He gets so excited -- he really lights up talking about it. Pili, Robin, Jeannette and I say tentatively that we'll go.
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.