Friday, April 29, 2016

Return to Upolu

 On Friday we boarded our plane and headed back to the island of Upolu, Western Samoa.

                                                          Approaching Upolu

As much as we enjoyed our time on Tutuila, we were glad to head back to our familiar base of the LDS campus in Apia.

I'm not sure why, but on some level I suppose we had expected American Samoa to be more developed than "Independent Samoa",  perhaps with a feel more like Hawaii based on the ties the country has with the USA.  It was not even close.  While the people of American Samoa use American money and drive on the right side of the road, the day-to-day  life there is much more like the rural villages of Samoa.   American Samoa is quite a bit smaller geographically and has less than a third of the population.  There is no major urban center like Apia.   Pago Pago is indeed the capital, but there is not much there.

American Samoa does not have much tourism.  Their main industry is tuna fish.  They even have a statue of Charley Tuna across the street from the big Star-kist fish packing plant.

There is more fast food in Pago Pago - things like Carl Jr, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and of course McDonalds which we find everywhere.  But there wasn't the same sense of mixed development we find in Apia.

Even though Samoa and American Samoa are separate nations politically and economically, there seemed to be no real sense of separation for the people we met.   Nearly all of them had friends or family on the other set of islands and many went back and forth for various family events.

Tutuila is indeed a beautiful island with its sharp peaks and lush, flowered jungle.  We loved the people we met.  We were grateful for the opportunity to experience it.  Still, we were glad to get on to the next part of our assignment.  All the travel with being in a different place every day was starting to wear thin.  We were a bit homesick for Auckland.  But we still had much to do before we would be returning there.  As the Robert Frost poem says, we still had miles to go before we would sleep.

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