Saturday, 7 February 2009

Day Twenty Eight: Pago Pago

I know what it looks like but it is actually pronounced Pango Pango, and the official explanation is that when the missionaries settled here they had no letter N in their set of type so they had to write it as Pago Pago. That’s the official explanation but it sounds a load of bull to me, just imagine if the letter N was missing from the keyboard or if you like just imagie if the letter was missig from the keyboard. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it. Whichever way it is pronounced and spelt, the island is part of Amerikan Samoa (that is the official spelling) and we found it be a charming little island. It is not very big and only has a population of 70,000 except when a cruise ship comes to town. They have a nice deep harbour here but it is mainly a container port so the docks are not very salubrious, however the locals put on a market just outside the dock and there are plenty of nearby shops if you want to buy drinks, clothes, medicines etc. We spent the morning wandering around the town and I ended up buying 3 short sleeved shirts, one for $30, one for $10 and one for $6.00 you can tell that I got wiser as I walked along the shops. We found one treasure of a shop – at least it was for us – and ended up buying O Henry bars, if you haven’t tasted them we think that they are the best all round chocolate bar made and I am sorry but you won’t be tasting any of our eight for I can guarantee that they won’t make Southampton, in fact it is unlikely if they will make Lautoka which is our next stop in 3 days time. Hilary bought herself a nice woven handbag with a plumeria decoration on it and together we bought two flowery doormats for the back door and a flowery sports bag which we will need to add to our four suitcases to bring everything home.

Our afternoon tour started off a little shakily, we were herded into a very rickety bus with wooden seats and open windows for air conditioning and to begin with we had two tour guides. At our first stop, the Flowerpot, one of the guides cried off claiming that he had a headache and then we had to wait for 3 people who had missed the bus when it left the ship. The tour continued with just one guide, a young, very young man called Jordin who as time progressed revealed that he was a Junior at Freshman at High School which we reckoned put him at 15 years old. As a guide he was pretty good with his explanations but he was short on a lot of facts that would have interested some of his travelling companions but what he lacked in information he made up for in enthusiasm, especially when talking about death and burials. The final part of the tour was the opportunity to witness Samoan life in action and this included how the family worked together, how food and drinks are prepared, how they harvest coconuts and then we were given a demonstration of Samoan dancing. And there was Justin! He sang, he danced, he chanted and was an extremely active part of this community which is very close to where he lives and goes to school. We sat outside on small plastic or metal folding chairs with the only shade available being from the coconut palms or the banana trees and it was very hot, temperatures in the 90’s and humidity probably 70%. But it was worth it and Hilary and I shared a can of pineapple drink while we listened, watched, photographed and filmed. On the way back Justin entertained us again, this time with his singing, first the Samoan National Anthem (very, very long), then he was going to sing the Stars and Stripes until we reminded him that we were from England and not the USA. Some stalwart people sang God Save the Queen for him and from then on it was a sing – a – long with Land of Hope and Glory as well. For the last part of the drive Justin showed us that his voice is yet to truly break by giving a very good soprano rendition of a classical opera song. We really enjoyed our day in Pago Pago and as I write this the engines have started to throb and out of the window I can see that we are slowly backing off our berth so I will leave you and go and see how Hilary is doing outside.

Tiz I. I was outside watching the ropes being released and I heard the Captain asking for various tasks to be done for the ship to reverse out of the berth and into the wider part of the harbour. This has been an amazing day, I have never known such genuinely friendly people. The children all waved to the buses and they all had the most wonderful smiles. People talked to us as we walked around the shops and along the road – so lovely. On our trip the young guide told us about his life on his ‘paradise island’ – his words – he attended school until he became a tour guide, he attends church every Sunday and he loves to sing and dance. He is quite an expert at the traditional dances of the island. It was very hot today and I don’t do hot. So I bought myself a banana leaf fan which along with the windowless bus sorted me out. We had our factor 50 sun cream on and still had to keep trying to find shade for fear of burning – banana leaves are wonderful at providing shade if you are observant and don’t sit under a heavy bunch of bananas. Good news – the watch was found and handed into reception so Sam won’t be asked to tell me the time every five minutes or so anymore, again thank you Angels. I think that just about covers it for today – I was sorry to have leave this lovely island and its people, two more days at sea and we will be in Fiji. Must get the scrapbook up to date by then. Take care, God bless.

OK it’s 10.10pm and well past my bedtime, we were awake at 6.00am this morning as we like to be up and about to film the arrival into port. While Hilary has been doing her scrapbook this evening I went to the cinema with Keiko, Richard’s wife and we saw a film that had Abigail Breslin in it, I forgot the title already but it was about her looking for her mum, a sort of Mama Mia in reverse and without the music. It was predictable but had a good happy ending, not really my sort of movie but it made a very pleasant evening to a very pleasant day. Enjoy the photographs taken today at Pago Pago, I particularly like the last one which was inside but upstairs in one of the shops where I bought a shirt.


Liz said...

Hi there,

I don't know what you are worrying about Hilary, your hair looks great in the blog photos. However, if you can get hold of a 'hot oil' treatment and leave in on for 5-10 mins covered with a plastic bag and warm towel, that should rehydrate your hair and make it more managable.

We didn't get the snow in Plymouth, more's the pity! Today is sunny with a blue sky but bitterly cold wind. You are definately in the best place thats for sure.

I thought we had finally sold the house. A couple came to look at it last weekend and the husband loved it. The wife particularly liked the kitchen and bathroom, so I thought we were onto a winner. However, we heard today that she wants her children to go to Borringdon school, something they would not be able to do if they lived here. What a bummer!! Never mind, they can't have been the right one's can they? I wish the 'right one's' would hurry up and find us thats all I can say!!

Glad you are feeling better now and back to enjoying all your trip has to offer. We are all enjoying hearing about it by reading the blog every day. Will write again soon.

Look after each other, Love to you both Liz x

Julian said...

Hi glad you are both still enjoying yourselves and that you have recovered all your lost property.
Because of the weather on Friday Bristol airport was shut and so I cancelled my flight home only for the airport to reopen. I did not want to risk getting to Bristol to then drive down if they had any hire cars left. Not a popular decision at home but I thought the best solution. The course is still going well and I hope to hear if I can sit the exam at the end of the course this week.
Mum the ropes are called 'lines' the one from the bow ( pointed end ) going forward to the shore is the forward line or head line. The one from the bow leading aft is the forward spring. The one on the stern ( blunt end ) leading aft is the aft line. The one on the stern leading forward is the aft spring. I expect the captain asked for springs off first, then the stern line, then the head line but with bow and stern thrusters he probably gets all the lines off at the same time and uses the engines and thrusters to manouver. You should have asked the captain when you had the chance if the ship has azipod propulsion or shaft propulsion.
Glad you are enjoying yourselves and hope the daily mile is helping to keep the waistline expansion in check!
Julian Moira Carl & Kelly

samw7 said...

Hi There

Pago Pago sounds lovely. Glad you had such a good day. Grandma always talked so fondly of the friendliness of the island people and it sounds as though you got to experience it. Jess and I had a quiet day. We walked around Jiujiang and looked through their shops. My daughter is the only person I know who can find a fake Luis Vitton bag and pay less than $3 for it. I met Jess's friend David and we ate at his pizza restaurant. It was really good. Unfortunately, he and most of her other English speaking friends (and there are less than 20 foreigners in this town of over 1 million) are leaving, and so she is planning to focus on taking intensive Chinese tutoring to sharpen her language skills this Spring. Although, I have to say I am impressed with how much she already knows. Hope you have a good day at sea.
Liz - I keep trying to visualize the right people finding your house. Hope it happens soon.
Love, Sam