Thursday, April 21, 2016

Heading to Pago Pago

THURSDAY / Wednesday – April 21/20 – Switching Days Again

We got up very early on Thursday to make sure we were all ready to go for the next part of our trip.   We had just a half hour flight on a small plane, but we would be landing in another country,  so there would be some new stamps in our passports.   Although we would be leaving Apia on Thursday, 21 April, since we would cross the international  date line we would arrive in Pago Pago, American Samoa on Wednesday the 20th of April.   We felt like crazy time travelers and had to keep checking our calendar and schedule to be sure we knew what day it was and which end was up.

We had some weight limitations on this flight, so we left a box of our non essential items and the remaining groceries we had to be stored in our absence since we were checking out of House 42.  We got the place swept and wiped down and then headed to the Service Center where we met Denny’s assistant who would drive us to the airport.  

As we were leaving the Service Center, Denny mentioned there was a storm headed our direction and that the staff at the Service Center  were carefully tracking it.   The skies confirmed that we were in for some weather as it poured rain all morning, so much so that our plane had to be redirected before arriving where we were waiting to take off.  It was delayed about an hour before it could safely land there.  Once we got in the air, however, we made it across to the island of Tutuila, American Samoa without any problems.

Our time on the island of Tutuilia was an interesting case of contrasts.  On the one hand, it is an American Territory, so traffic travels on the right side of the road with the driver in the left seat of the the car.  The currency is US dollars and English is an official language.  That being said, most of the people we saw were Samoan heritage and Samoan customs and culture were very much a part of life on the island.   

Here's a bit of background information about American Samoa from Nations Online:
 "Tutuila us the largest and most populous island of the U.S. Territory of American Samoa,  The group of islands consists of the eastern half of the Samoan archipelago and comprises five volcanic islands and two coral atolls.   The main island of Tutuila and the small Aunu'u iland, plus the islands of Ofu,Olesega, and ta'u (The Manu'a Islands) to the east.  The coral atolls are Swains and Rose Atoll.

The territory has a total land area of 199 sq km (77.6 sq mi) and its highest point is at Mt Lata (965 meters) on Ta'u Island.

American Samoa has a population of 66,000. About 90 percent live on Tutuila, mostly near Pago Pago. The islands extend roughly 300 km (186 mi) from west to east and are located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii (4700 km) to New Zealand (2800 km)."

Map of  Tutuila
When we arrived, I was impressed by the beauty of all the flowers.  They even had gorgeous flower arrangements in the bathrooms at the airport that would have been worthy of a wedding or a prom back in the States.

We took a shuttle to our hotel (The Tradewinds) and got checked in.  We had a little time to rest and get organized, then took a drive around  to get oriented to where things were.  Despite being quite a small island, there was a lot of traffic.  The other islands we go to rely more on buses and taxi, but here it seemed nearly everyone was driving in private cars.  It made getting around  a bit of a challenge.    Still, we were impressed by the tall, jagged mountains and lush beauty of Tutuila.

From .travelweekly.com

That evening we had our first training at Pago Pago Samoa Mapusaga Stake. We felt a little rattled going in, but once the meeting began the spirit took over and everything went smoothly.  The Stake President, Faapito Auapaau, provided translation for us.   The training went really well.     
President Auapaau

After the training there was pizza for everyone and much friendly visiting.  We committed to coming to the Family History Centre the following morning to help members identify family names to take to the temple.  We were tired, but happy.  We felt that our time in Tutuila had gotten off to a good start.

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