Monday, September 19, 2011

American Samoa by car

We keep thinking our time here is coming to an end so we finally rented a car to do our provisioning and decided to keep it a few days and tour the parts of the island that we haven't seen yet.  And what a beautiful island it is.  We got our maps together and Lonely Planet guide and off we went.  I think we've been on just about every paved road possible to drive on.  

What's really neat is as you get past the hustle and bustle (relatively speaking) of Pago Pago, you enter a whole new world.  There are traditional villages and the landscaping is gorgeous.  The rainforest bleeds down into some of the villages and you see various different kinds of trees and fruits.  One of the fascinating things is how many churches there are here.  And they're not all just Catholic like a lot of other islands.  We saw a Korean Baptist church.  Numerous Seventh Day Adventists, Church of God, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, you name, they have it, well, with the exception of Jewish or Muslem...haven't seen those.  But there are literally over a hundred churches here.  It makes the bible belt look like it needs a bit of a revival.  And everything really does shut down on Sunday (even the beaches).  The other interesting thing (of which I failed to take any pictures of) is that when someone dies (presumably of some sort of importance), they are buried in the yard.  And not just any old tombstone will do.  Some of the monuments were truly unbelievable.  We saw one that was 3 stories high, and another with a whole house built around it and lights on the outside (as in icicle, Christmas lights).  There are marble graves, painted cement graves, and even graves with stairs built into them.  Needless to say, it is very different from where we come from.

We spent a good amount of time driving around the National Forest here.  We were able to read a few park signs and call it a nice science field trip for Jake, justifying a day of skipping school.  We learned that  fruit bats are the only native mammals here in American Samoa.  And the breadfruit tree has almost as many uses as the coconut tree (which would boggle your mind)!

We were able to see the island at a very leisurely pace of 25 miles per hour.  That's the maximum speed limit on the whole island.  And everyone is very courteous, letting people pull out in front of them, or slowing down for a pedestrian.

Today, we did our final provisioning and stopped by the National Forest Office.  We stopped by there several weeks ago and they gave Jake a booklet for him to complete to become a Jr. Ranger here in American Samoa.  We had also offered up some underwater pictures from Andy to help with their publicity/spreading the message type thing.  So we dropped those things off and got Jake's certificate and badge, of which he was very proud.

As our trip here comes to an end, we reflect back and really think we've done almost all we could do here.  We've hiked just about every trail we know of, Andy has done his share of diving/snorkeling, and we can give directions to any major (and not so major) shopping joint you might need.  We've frequented the military exchange as well as gotten our fill on fast food.  I think it's about time to head on.  We're waiting on "one more package" and then we're off to Apia...Western Samoa.  From there we'll head up to Tuvalu, then off to the Kirabati Islands and finally spend the cyclone season in the Marshall Islands.  


Bethany said...

Just wanted to stop by to tell you how I love to read about your adventure! I would read even more, but for some reason the text of your posts don't appear in my reader. We are new parents and hoping to travel full time in the coming years.

The Crew of Savannah said...

Good luck to you! I don't know much about readers, so sorry, can't help you there... I can't think of any other way I'd rather raise my kid! Thanks for reading.

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