Sunday, November 22, 2015

Some Oddities of Living in the Pacific

Yesterday our ICS Manager Chris, flew in from Upolu, to re-negotiate the internet provider contract for our island of Tutuila.  He is a Samoan citizen thus needs a US Visa to be admitted into the country.  We watched him walk off the plane at 8:30 a.m. and after waiting for about a half-hour, an airport customs official comes out and tells us that he is being held because he doesn't have proper visa information.  We call the PBO, get a number for the visa, Theron walks it back through the arrival area and gives it to the immigration folks and a few minutes later Chris comes up the walkway.
  • Oddity #1:  How many airports would take our word for a Visa number and release a non-US citizen just on our word alone?  Just like the time we put one of our elders on the plane to fly to Upolu without a ticket.  It happens here.
To finish this story.  We took Chris back to the airport to catch the 4:30 p.m. flight - the last one for the day.  About 20 minutes later, we get a call to come and get him because he couldn't get on the plane.  We go back, he gets into the car, and tells us that the plane was overweight and he and two other passengers couldn't get on and will have to fly out tomorrow morning.  Let me explain the process:  To travel with Polynesian Air from Pago to Upolu and visa versa you fly in a small 17 passenger airplane.  You are allowed one bag with a 50 pound limit.  After they weigh the bag then they ask you with your carry-on to get on the scales and then they assign you a seat - based on your weight; and from what we've observed, the more you weigh, the closer you sit to the wing.  Chris was one of the last passengers to cue for the flight and even though he had a ticket, the plane was already too heavy, so he was assigned another flight.  Yes, there are some big people that fly on this airplane!
  • Oddity #2:  When was the last time you were weighed at the airport before boarding and denied a seat because the people already checked in took up all the weight?
That event prompted this blog.  Now, just to mention a few other oddities that we deal with on a regular basis.  It makes for an interesting experience and a most delightful time living in a third world country.
  • Oddity #3:  In the Pacific, we receive all electronic equipment - computers, printers, copiers - from New Zealand.  This means that all the plugs have a 220V connector,  however, American Samoa has 110V Power and US type outlets.   We have to buy new plugs for all our electronics.
  • Oddity #4:  There is a car ferry that runs from Pago to Upolu that was designed to carry cars.  However, in 2009 Upolu and Savaii converted to right-hand drive cars to be like New Zealand.  Here in Pago, we have left-hand drives like the U.S.  So, you can't transport vehicles from one island to another.
  • Oddity #5:  Driving in Pago is really challenging.  The top speed limit on the one east-west road on the island is 25 mph and in most places it's 20 mph.  You can't even use your cruise because it doesn't work at speeds below 30 mph.  That's right, we have one, two-lane road to drive on no matter which way we go and it only goes on one side of the island. 
  • Oddity #6:  One of the nice things, even though it's a bit odd, is that you can go into the yard and pick a pineapple or a bunch of bananas or a papaya and lots of lemons. We also have an abundance of flowers.
  • Oddity #7:  When we arrived it was winter and it was dry.  Everything was turning brown and looked like it was dying.  We are now entering summer and it rains every day.  Everything is growing again, flowering again and looking rather lush.  Go figure, where we have lived in Utah it's wet in winter and dry in summer.
  • Oddity #8:  Samoa is over-run with dogs which is not much of an oddity for many third world countries.  The oddity is that at the post office and at the airport there are men wearing K-9 Unit uniforms but none of them have a dog.  I've wondered if they have an exceptional sense of smell and don't need a dog or, if they suspect a package do they just step outside and bring in a stray to smell the package?
  • Extreme Oddity #8  We have a dog!  When we arrived, there was a young, yellow, dog, hanging around our house.  He was afraid of us but was pretty docile.  I figured the neighbors would think he was our dog and that we LDS missionaries weren't taking proper care of him, So I started feeding him.  It took several weeks to convince him that we could be friends but now he is "our" dog and loves to go for walks, lick Shanna's legs and carry off the missionary's shoes when they visit.  
We love the challenge and the oddities of life that surround us at this moment.

1 comment:

  1. Fairly odd parents / Aunt / Uncle for a fairly odd land. Love the Blog. Keep them coming. We pray for your both every night.
    Happy Thanksgiving.
    Love, Tony.