The Cruise

World cruise on the Dawn Princess starting in Sydney on May 21, 2010 and sailing west around the world for 104 days.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Dawn Princess World Cruise 2010 - Thursday August 26

Day 97 Pago Pago American Samoa
We spent today in Pago Pago in American Samoa. This is about an eight-hour ferry ride from Western Samoa. Pago Pago is on the island of Tutuila, which is of volcanic origin. Tutuila’s jungle clad mountains rise abruptly from the sea and fjord like bays cut deeply into narrow valleys. This morning we did a ship-organized tour of the island. We were forewarned that the buses were not up to the standard of buses we had used in other ports but that they were the best on the island. Our bus was brightly painted and decorated with fresh flowers, but it lacked a starter motor in working order. This meant that after each stop, two very large Samoans had to push the bus and the thirty passengers until the engine kicked over. I must say after many days of enjoying the Princess Dawn food, most passengers were not of the lighter weight variety. We were taken to see the Flower Pot, which is two rocks with plants growing out of the top. Legend has it that the front one of these rocks is the female and the back one is the male. Our two guides were college students who both wanted to be teachers when they finished their schooling. One of them tested his teacher skills on the passengers of our bus by deciding to teach us about two hundred Samoan words in the space of a few hours. He would say a word in Samoan and then say now repeat it after me. It was quite hilarious. Maybe I might have remembered one or two words, but not the number our guide tried to get us to remember. The other guide who looked male to me was referred to as “she” all the time by the number one guide. He or she was born in Tahiti. The third son in Tahiti is brought up as a girl. It is just part of their culture. I have never seen so many churches as there were in Samoa. There were two or three of every religion that I have ever heard of and then some that I have never heard of as well. There was also a great proliferation of places to have sewing done. Evidently, you can choose material and have it made up in a day into whatever you want. We were taken to the area where the first missionaries landed on the island. Around this area we saw evidence of the tsunami that affected this island last year. The Samoans have large families - one of our guides was one of nine children and the other was one of seven children. They live together in an extended family group with several of these groups living in a small village. A chief is elected as the leader of the group and a large central house or “fare” is set in the centre as the place to entertain visitors or for large gatherings on festive occasions. These “fares” are large but have no walls, just a roof and poles to hold the roof up. The more basic housing in the smaller villages were also without walls. You could see people inside watching T.V., resting, washing and cooking. However, in the larger villages and towns, the houses were much more sophisticated. Around the beautifully manicured golf course, the homes were most elegant. There are no public cemeteries for the Samoans as they bury their loved ones alongside their houses and decorate them with flowers. I saw one child playing around the grave beside her home. We also went to a Samoan village where we were shown how the Samoans use the native plants to make many of the necessities of life. The leaves from the pandanus trees are used to weave floor mats, baskets, fans and hats. The seeds are strung together to make a necklace, which is worn by the chiefs. They grow the coco plant and make a very rich chocolate cocoa from the seeds, which they cook and then crush. The United States, looking for a coaling port, took over the islands in 1900. The Americans were stationed on the island during World War II but left soon after the war ended. Today it is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The inhabitants are U.S. nationals but not citizens, which means they cannot vote for the U.S. president. The governor is elected every four years and the judiciary is run along American traditions. Land on the island can only be owned by fully-fledged Samoans. When we returned from the tour, Bill and I went for a walk up a very steep hill where we saw many of the children just returning from school They were very friendly and all wanted to say “hello.” We were also greeted by many barking dogs who all wanted to defend their territory. Tonight, we had dinner in our room and watched the 3.5 hour epic, “Gone With The Wind” (Barbara) I continued the film festival with “The Apartment” starring a very young Jack Lemmon and a pixie starlet called Shirley MacLaine. I have been running short on Internet time but have been saved by friends who have not used their free internet time so now I have lots to play with. The blog can continue! (Bill)

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