The people on this ship never cease to amaze me. Some are absolutely wonderful, while others are mad at the world in which they are traveling. Usually, this second group rears its ugly head when food is involved (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been pushed out of the way in the buffet line), though sometimes they are just plain nasty for no reason. For instance, Ben had an awkward conversation with a fellow who started by asking, “How can you afford this holiday? In my day, we had to work.” I guess that can be seen as an innocent-enough question, but the delivery is what made it not-so-innocent – not to mention, that’s a rude question to ask anyone of any age. At first I attributed this behavior to the age group rather than the culture. My experience with seniors is that many are jaded (who can blame them), and they have often lost their filters. Then, British crew members of similar age to myself informed me that I was incorrect in my assumption: While age does play a part in the behavior of the passengers, culture plays an even bigger part. These two crew members work in the art gallery; and while they love their jobs, they have their fair share of horror stories.
Aside from the reason these folks aren’t as nice as us Southerners (you should re-read that with a Southern accent), there’s one thing that almost all the elderly passengers share: turbo boost. Turbo boost, according to my step father, is when a flatulent propels you forward. I’m almost positive that most people make their way around the ship using turbo boosts. At any given time, I will either walk into a fart cloud or hear a roar from the seat of the pants of the person beside me. The best part is that I haven’t seen one person act shamed or try to cover up the sound. Just yesterday we were watching a movie in the theater when the lady beside me lifted herself out of her seat, ripped a long one, and sat back down. Thankfully, there was no odor, because the room was already quite stuffy. Letting one loose with no shame is definitely something to look forward to with aging.
Now, the next stop on the journey was American Samoa. American Samoa is an American territory; the people speak English and the currency is the American dollar. Without access to Google, Ben and I debated why the United States would be interested in keeping the territory. Ben thought that it was for military bases, while I said it was strategy for recruiting large football players. These guys really are huge.
The port of call for this ship is Pago Pago (pronounced payne-go payne-go). It is a small shipping port in a beautiful bay.
We didn’t plan any excursions with the ship, because, well, they’re too expensive. Ship excursions are always pricey, but these were even more so thanks to the pound to dollar conversion. We found a cab driver and asked to go to a specific beach that was a half hour drive from the port. He charged us $20 each way, which was a steal compared to the same ship excursion. He gave us his name (which I can’t pronounce), and told us to call him Happy since that was the meaning of his name. Happy was a wonderful tour guide, and he explained a lot about the area and the people. He had migrated from Western Samoa 13 years ago due to tourism. Instead of moving toward the touristic place, he moved away from it. I didn’t understand why a family (especially a cab driver) would move away from a tourist town until I visited Western Samoa myself. But, technically that’s in the future so I need to save it for the next post.
We passed two tuna factories on our way out of the bay. One factory was a new Chinese factory, while the other was one you may recognize:
After the factory, we came upon the devastation left behind from the 2006 tsunami. Most of the area had been cleaned up, but there was still evidence of the event. I was unable to take any photos, since we were passing by so quickly. Happy said the tsunami hit early in the morning and that there weren’t a ton of people out of their homes. While the swell was around 30 feet, most of the homes were high enough to protect their occupants. He drove us up the coast, pointing out other landmarks along the way. He really got a kick out of an island they call camel rock, because driving one way the island looks like a camel. Driving the other direction, it just looks like a rock.
A short time later, we arrived at Tisa’s Barefoot Bar. The bar was the only establishment on the beach. It was set in the corner, leaving open, white sand for anyone interested in sun bathing, and the water was the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
We found a shady spot under a beautiful tree.
The thing that sticks out the most about this beach (aside from the crystal clear water) was the smell. There were flowers all along the sand that were extremely fragrant. It was relaxing to lie there listening to the sound of the soft waves, and smelling the flowers. I’ll take that over the smell of turbo boost any day.
I walked along the beach looking for shells while Ben strapped on his GoPro and went snorkeling. He discovered a reef 100 yards from the beach and found a fellow snorkeler, Peter, to go exploring with him. They were out for over an hour snorkeling around the area. They saw tons of fish and a huge lobster.
Here’s a two minute highlight video from Ben’s GoPro. If you pay close attention, you can see the lobster!
After several hours on the beach, Happy came back to pick us up. He raved about the coconuts on the island saying they tasted different from the coconuts found on other Samoan islands. We were exited to try one (feel free to refresh your memory on our coconut addiction), so Happy dropped us off at the local market. Unfortunately, they were sold out of coconuts for the day.
Since we didn’t get a coconut, we decided to go to McDonald’s. I know, I know – but there really wasn’t anything else to eat in the area. We each got a quarter pounder. As far as I could tell, it tasted the same as any quarter pounder in the States. But, our Filipino cabin steward, Lourdes, swears that the best McDonald’s burgers are in the States. She has travelled the world on cruise ships, eating at MacDonald’s every stop along the way, so I’ll defer to her expertise on this one. After our late lunch, we made our way back to the ship. A rainbow greeted us at the boat.
Not to spoil the future for you, but I’ve gotta say that of the three Pacific islands we visited, Pago Pago was our favorite.
To give you a sense of time, I wrote this post in February. Ben and I are currently in New Zealand.
A couple of days ago, the world lost a great person when Ben’s grandfather, George Woodason, passed on. I didn’t know him very long, but I loved him from the moment I met him at Ben’s college graduation. From the beginning he treated me like a family member, and he made sure I felt welcome then and every other time I saw him. He was full of life lessons, interesting stories, and valuable advice; he was a great man, and he will be missed. Please keep the Woodason family in your thoughts and prayers as they lay Grandpa Woodason to rest today.