Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real men don't wear skirts. Oh, yeah?...

This is the happiest policeman I think I have ever seen! Notice that he is wearing a skirt. Are you going to tell him that real men don't wear skirts?

Our trip is winding down. Although it is Tuesday, we are only seven days from the end of the sea voyage part as we lose the 22nd of August tonight. We actually crossed the International Date Line this morning at 0730 but, the captain says, by tradition they don’t change the date until midnight of the day the line is crossed. All those hours we have gained over the trip are all given back tonight and we will arrive in Sydney next Wednesday, seven days from now, August 29 at 7am.

Randy and I will be staying in Australia for another couple of weeks, going to timeshares in Lakes Entrance and Ballarat, both near Melbourne. Well, “near” is relative in Australia. Lakes Entrance is 319 km from Melbourne and 430 km from Ballarat which is itself 978 km  from Greg and Yolanda’s home in Quakers Hill.

But for now, we are still at sea heading from Pago Pago (pronounced, for arguable reasons, pango pango or even to some, pongo pongo; one of the possible reasons is that the missionaries brought moveable type to set the bible phonetically in the native language. They didn’t realize that there were so many words with an “n” sound and they hadn’t brought enough “n”s, so they just made the rule that if there was an “a” it was always to be sounded as if it were an “an” sound. Sounds like a reasonable reason for the pronunciation.) to our last two ports before Sydney, Auckland and Bay of Islands.

I looked forward to Pago Pago because my friend Julia used to live and work at the Community College in Tafuna, a town close to Pago Pago. It always seems to me to be more fun in a place where you have even a small connection. We didn’t plan a tour—perhaps we should have because we didn’t find the college—we just got off the ship and started wandering about Pago Pago. I had always thought that was the name of the island but the island is actually Tutuila. This is not a resort paradise as Bora Bora and Moorea are; as the Visitor Bureau says, “There are no five-star hotels here or fancy name retail outlets or even mass tourism, but what you will discover  is a holiday destination with affordable accommodations and services, a great selection of retail stores, an eco-tourism paradise and the friendliest people in the Pacific.” Sounds pretty nice and it is. Very low key and very friendly.

One of the unique things about Pago Pago is the public transportation system, their busses. They are unlike any bus I have ever seen. Imagine a pickup truck. Now cut off the top and back of the cab (leaving the windshield) and the sides of the bed and put a big, wooden box on it (with a cutout where the driver sits) and bolt some benches to the floor of that box, cut holes in the sides next to each of the seats, and put plexiglas in the holes you’ve cut (so you could pull the plexiglas up to keep out the rain). That’s the bus. Oh, yes, paint it a really bright color like pink or purple or yellow.

We hopped one of those island busses (fare is $1 no matter how far you go) to go to Tafuna. We never made it to the Community College because the bus driver dropped us in the middle of nowhere and we didn’t think to ask him about the college, but nowhere was somewhere in Tafuna. So we wandered about a bit and found the airport for a picture with Flat Stanley and the high school and wandered a bit more and finally found a bus stop and a friendly guy who told us how to get back to Pago Pago: take the bus marked Tafuna, of course (never mind which direction you want to go, to or from Tafuna, you get the bus marked Tafuna) and went back to close to Pago Pago. “Close” is only supposed to count in horseshoes and hand-grenades but it also counts when you are walking, as we discovered a nice restaurant to have lunch and a couple of beers, on the beach, and close to the ship.

The weather was fantastic, cool to warm, low humidity, with a hefty breeze. Well, it really was a WIND. And it wreaked havoc with the craft sellers on the pier! But it kept away any bugs. We bought a few things, generally admired the mountains around the town, and went back to the ship for a sail-away on our deck with our friends Kathy and Fred. We have been putting up our American flag any time we are in an American port and this was no exception but Randy was unhappy because he couldn’t get anywhere where he could get a picture of the back of the ship.

So off we went heading for Auckland and the possibility of a lambskin vest for Randy.
These policemen wanted to come on the ship to have a look around. Nobody stopped them!
Flying the flag on our deck in Pago Pago.
Looking out the harbor in Pago Pago. The captain backed the ship most of the way out of the harbor!

More views of Pago Pago

The market. Notice the blowing fabric. This was actually a calm moment.

One of the less gaudy busses.
Our driver.

A beautiful carved remains of a tree.

City scene, Pago Pago.

It's a pretty small pier for our fairly small ship (we hold 2,000 passengers; there are some that hold 5,000)

Pago Pago harbor.

Just an interesting building.

There are no public cemeteries; when someone in your family dies, he gets buried in the yard of your home.

Another home with the family members buried in the front yard.

Note that this is the home of the Warriors...

Now, notice the grafitti on the wall.
Flat Stanley in Pago Pago

Flat Stanley at the Pago Pago International Airport
Flat Stanley about to go for a ride on Tutuila

Where we got dropped off by the bus

Flowerpot Rock, one of the sights of Pago Pago

The LBJ Tropical Medicine Center just outside Pago Pago.

There is beautiful scenery on Tutuila

An active hotel next to the remains of the Rainmaker Hotel.
What was the entrance to the Rainmaker Hotel.

Pam at our lunch site.

This is the picture I (Pam) took of a beautiful scene from our restaurant.
This is the picture Randy took of the same scene.
As we were leaving the harbor.
Our last view of the island.


  1. Love watching your progress. Miss you much.

    1. We miss everybody! Ready to come home, but won't be there until mid-september!

    2. Hi Pam, I was so excited to see the pictures you sent from Pago Pago. The island looks different and updated but still some things look the same. My husband and girls arrived there 40 years ago and my son, Mark, was born at LBJ Tropical Medical Center. We lived in a subdivision in the village, Tafuna. I didn't see any fales(traditional house)in the pictures, so I am assuming that most of those round, open houses no longer exist. The city scene of Pago looked very familiar. The "buses" look totally different and updated. Loved your "real men don't wear skirts" label.

      The "interesting" building looked like it might be the Fono or legislative building. Just a guess. Tafuna didn't have a high school when I was there. Did I see a McDonald's in the background of that picture? Hard to believe. It was nice to see the picture of the old Rainmaker hotel. It never was much of a hotel as I remember. Not too many people stopped in American Samoa in the old days.

      Enjoy your wonderful journey. Hi to Randy. We miss you at the Museum. Love, Julia