Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Drive Across Tutuila - American Samoa - Pago Pago

The past 4.5 months have been a delight for us, being the only senior couple on the island of Tutuila, providing love and support to 36 missionaries and traveling to each ward building to install and upgrade the technology there.  We made new friends and strengthened our testimonies by association with the saints on this island.  We know many of you will never get to see this island so we thought we would take you on a tour.

Tutuila is the Samoan name, it is an island in the Pacific that is an American territory and the large deep water bay was fortified to protected US ships during World War II is called Pago Pago; thus, all three names are used to reference this island.  We'll stick with Tutuila to be traditional.

This is a rather small island just 50 miles from east to west or west to east as there is only one main road that runs along the south side of the island.  The north side is cliffs and mountains-there is no way to travel completely around the island in a car.

We used US dollars, ate at McDonalds (of which there are two) and Carl's Jr. and when the show changed at the one theater, we enjoyed popcorn and a movie.  On a good day, we only traveled one direction; most days we traveled both directions on the main road of which the speed limit varies between a top speed limit of 25 mph and a low speed limit of 15 mph the average being 20 mph.  If you want to buy a good used car, buy one from Tutuila they have never been driven over 35 mph unless the owner was arrested for breaking the speed limit.  Needless to say, it takes a long time to drive anywhere, so you really get to know the sights and sounds of the island.

If you look at the map of Tutuila above, you see that the one road hugs the coast so there are very few points along the way that you are not looking at ocean or the view of the back of a bus.  The center part of the island is tall mountains and cliffs with lush, lush foliage.

Throughout Samoa, it is tradition to put the graves of the most prominent ancestors in the front yard.  We especially liked this ones decorated for Christmas.
Elder Schaefermeyer is sitting on the ocean wall barricade in Tulao, a small village on the far east end.  He is looking at the island of Aunu'u which is a 35 minute boat ride from Tutuila.  Notice the cragginess of the shore, most of Tutuila shores are volcanic rock.  There are few sandy beaches.
Traveling west from Tulao you take one of the three roads that go to the north side of the island.  Notice how the cliffs rise out of the ocean.  This is a picture at 'growling rocks' at the far end of the village of Viatia.
This is a very typical village scene.  There is not much flat ground so homes are built onto the mountain side.

The large EFKS (London Missionary Society) churches are ever present in both color and prominence.

The large white house on the hill top is the governor's mansion.  It overlooks Pago Pago harbor.

If you live on an island, everything you have, except coconuts, bananas, papaya and a few vegetables, is shipped in.  It is amazing to see all the buildings, the furniture inside, the many little things like pen and paper and printer ink cartridges all come to the island in shipping containers.  Pago Pago harbor is always busy.  Everyone knows when a new shipment comes in because the stores replenish their stock.

If you travel by cruise ship, this is where you disembark.  This is the main entrance of Pago Pago harbor.

The Post Office became our main stopping point on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The cargo plane bringing the mail came in on Friday evening.  The mail would be sorted on Saturday and Sunday and available for pickup on Monday afternoons.  This is the main greeting point for everyone because everyone receives mail.  There is no house-to-house mail delivery.  A family has a post office box.

As you get further out on the west end, the road begins to narrow and get rather full of pot holes.  This is just typical.

There are always plenty of fantastic views all along the way.

Every evening there is always cricket, rugby and volleyball being played.  This is a cricket match and when a car needs to go by, they stop the game and wait for you to pass.
This is the way we would travel to Aunu'u to visit the missionaries.

During Cyclone Victor, the ocean came up on the road and brought with it coral, sand and all sorts of garbage that had been thrown or washed into the ocean.  The village members would just grab a shovel and come and clean up.  It's island life; pitch in and do what needs to be done.

There are so many switchbacks along the island road that you are always looking at the village across the bay as your next destination.  These two pictures show our constant view of the village across the harbor.
And, there are always beautiful evening views of sunsets far out on the ocean.

Thanks for traveling with us on a quick tour of island life on Tutuila.  We left Tutuila on January 24, 2016 and will spend the rest of our time on Upolu and Savai'i.  Keep joining us as we serve in Samoa.

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