Thursday, October 29, 2015

Big Guys In Skirts
By Michael
PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA


Windy and the girls bathing in rainwater
collected in the Pudgy. We've had several
extended deluges that make this possible.
It's heaven for dirty cruisers.
We’ve been hanging out and exploring the island of Tutuila in American Samoa for a month. The capital is Pago Pago (pronounced “pango pango”), but we’ve not spent much of our time there, but in the larger, surrounding communities. It’s rained almost constantly, we’ve hardly seen the sun, the wind has blown relentlessly, and the harbor water is too dirty to swim in. We have been absolutely charmed by American Samoa.

I’m not being facetious. The steep sides of the remnants of a volcano crater that form the protected harbor in which we’re moored and the serendipitous encounters we’ve had with the American Samoans, have made it clear how misinformed we were prior to arriving. Based on all we heard, we anticipated a cesspool of Americana in the South Pacific. This place is beautiful and the people are warm and utterly foreign to us.

“Excuse me…”

I got up from the bus stop bench and approached the car window.

“I just saw you guys sitting here twenty minutes ago, you still haven’t caught a bus. Where are you going?”

“Pago.”

“Ahh,” she nodded. “Okay, you’re gonna have trouble catching a bus at this time, get in, all of you.” She waved and motioned to Windy and the girls behind me. “I’ll take you.”

“You sure? We could pay for your gas, thank you very much.”

She opened the back and I began loading some of our bags. It was getting dark and we’d pushed the bus schedule too close and lost. We were gonna do our time here on the bench to be absolutely certain though, before we paid $20 for a 20-minute cab ride back to Pago Pago.


White caps in the anchorage. For most
of our time here, it's been blowing hard and
there's been lots of rain. The nearby peak is
called The Rainmaker.
On the way, she tried repeatedly to get ahold of her sister on the phone, to let her know she’d be home late, going 40 minutes out of her way to help some random palogis (foreigner, pronounced “palongi”). En route she answered all of our questions about Samoan culture, helping us make sense of so much we’d observed and didn’t understand. Despite the name of this place and that everyone speaks American English and the two McDonalds restaurants and U.S. post office, it had become obvious to us that this clearly wasn’t an extension of the U.S., not even close. The men here wear skirts (lava lavas), Samoan music and ‘80s ballads pound from the speakers in the colorful homemade buses, the teenagers are disarmingly friendly, and nearly every home features a grave next to the front door.

When we arrived in Pago where we’d left the dinghy, we thanked our new friend profusely and I insisted she take $5 for gas money and the girls turned over a small bag of homemade cookies we’d packaged up to give someone else who’d been kind to us, but whom we’d not run across.

Then, without missing a beat, she reciprocated—as if she’d not already—by giving Windy the lava lava she’d been wearing that Windy had casually admired. Just another piece of the Pacific Island culture we learned, that people are very quick to gift when they’ve been gifted and there is a tendency to give those things that have been admired by others.

In short, we got a ride from a stranger who went significantly out of her way, and then she drove off leaving us the clothes off her back.

I could share three other such stories from American Samoa, of strangers extending warmth and kindness beyond what I’d ever expect. It’s been a treat—not simply to have been a beneficiary of this kindness, but to travel through places like this with my girls and to have them experience this kindness in a more natural way. For them this is normal, it’s largely what they’ve come to know over the past five years living as a traveling family. Because while I know the American Samoa culture (not distinct from the Samoan culture, from what we’ve learned, or from Pacific Island culture in general) is kind and open in a way we are not used to,* I also know that as travelers, we are often vulnerable to acts of kindness, because we are always the outsider, always on the street and looking out, asking outsider questions. For five years, my kids have been immersed in a world that is perhaps more kind than they could have known in a more conventional context. They expect kindness from strangers and they offer kindness without reservation. It’s shaping who they are. I can see it.

--MR

* I also know these cultures have serious problems, I don’t want to idealize them, they’re not all peaches and cream. But as travelers, those are not the aspects we are exposed to.
 
Windy and the girls walking ahead along the waterfront. Samoans are
big people. Note the high school kids in front of me. Note the guy is
wearing a lava lava--totally normal. I bought one, almost wore it
out and about. My nerve was intact, but I went back to shorts at the last
minute because I panicked that I'd wrapped it around me the
feminine way. Pics to come. Note the regular house-type
pane widows that make up the bus windshield. This is normal too.
 
 
No, not the same water--it's a new day. Despite the crowded
harbor and homes and businesses all around, some of us
still bathe au natural.


Our arrival. The port captain had us side-tie to this tug and wait for
these lava lava-clad health inspectors to board. Then it was off to see
the port captain, customs, immigration, and another harbor
administrator.

16 comments:

  1. I spent two years in the Marshall Islands in high school. I also lived in a lot of places growing up in the military family. There's a whole world to explore and most people don't get to see that. Most people base their ideas on what they see or read in the news, movies, etc., but reality can be very different.

    Your children are very fortunate to have that experience.

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  2. I think the other key here Michael, is that you and your sweet family are finding what you are seeking. You are looking for beauty and kindness in every person and culture that you have been encountering...and that is exactly what you have been discovering. I just recently had a sailor tell me he was not impressed with American Samoa at all. I gotta wonder just what was he looking for?

    Once again you are encouraging me to let go of all preconceived ideas and opinions about places and cultures. To go forth in this world believing in the grace and beauty of the human spirit, seeking to find the very best along the way. That's what I see your family doing and your lives are incredibly rich because of it!

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      My Name is BEN KAYLA from Tx,USA. After 10years of marriage, i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and our kids and moved to California to be with another woman. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really ina love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a this Dr William how he has helped alot of woman to get there Ex Back so i contacted him and he promise to help me, he told me what to do and i did it then he did a Love spell for me. 28 hours later to my suprise my husband called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids.So from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr William. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet how Dr William has helped me to get my ex back.he is real and is a powerful spell caster who has wiped alot of peoples tears, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact
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    Call/WhatsApp: +2347063809857 ,
    Email: supersolutionhome11@gmail.com.


    Save Your Relationship and Get Your Ex Boyfriend/Girlfriend Back!contact: supersolutionhome11@gmail.com is certainly the best spell caster online and his result is 100% guarantee.
    My Name is BEN KAYLA from Tx,USA. After 10years of marriage, i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and our kids and moved to California to be with another woman. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really ina love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a this Dr William how he has helped alot of woman to get there Ex Back so i contacted him and he promise to help me, he told me what to do and i did it then he did a Love spell for me. 28 hours later to my suprise my husband called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids.So from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr William. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet how Dr William has helped me to get my ex back.he is real and is a powerful spell caster who has wiped alot of peoples tears, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact
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  6. I had doubts about magic spells after purchasing many spells that never worked I actually decided to never buy a spell again. I have tried different spell casters..Some of them never answered me after I paid and were obvious scammers, some really cast a spell but for some reason it didn't work. Then I saw a video on you-tube with a person who was mentioning she had results with Mama Anita. Despite the suspicions I had her site looked real so I gave spells a last try. It's probably the best decision I ever made in my life because it worked and my boyfriend came back with me After I broke up with him I spent a lot of time wishing that I could just turn the clock backwards.He helped me do just that. In fact our relationship feels like the break up never even happened. We have never been this happy or passionate, all thanks to mama Anita. If you're looking for a good spell caster look no further,you can contact her straight on(mamaanita.lovespellsolution@gmail.com) mamaanita.lovespellsolution@gmail.com

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  7. I was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with two kids for one year, All effort to bring him back failed I thought I'm not going to see him again not until I met a lady called Jesse who told me about a spell caster called Dr.Oku, She gave me his email address and mobile number and I contacted him and he assured me that within 28 hours my husband will come back to me, In no less than 28hours my husband came back started begging for forgiveness saying it is the devils work, so I'm still surprise till now about this miracle,i couldn't conceive but as soon as the spell was cast,i became pregnant and gave birth to my third child(Michelle) if you need any assistance from him you can contact him via:email; okutemple@gmail.com , you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2347053113465 and tell him I referred you to him

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  8. I was hurt and heart broken when my husband left me with two kids for one year, All effort to bring him back failed I thought I'm not going to see him again not until I met a lady called Jesse who told me about a spell caster called Dr.Oku, She gave me his email address and mobile number and I contacted him and he assured me that within 28 hours my husband will come back to me, In no less than 28hours my husband came back started begging for forgiveness saying it is the devils work, so I'm still surprise till now about this miracle,i couldn't conceive but as soon as the spell was cast,i became pregnant and gave birth to my third child(Michelle) if you need any assistance from him you can contact him via:email; okutemple@gmail.com , you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2347053113465 and tell him I referred you to him

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  9. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.azen how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. azen on his email:(azentemple@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr azen the great spell caster on his email addresses (azentemple@gmail.com)or whatsapp Dr azen on (+2349038299828)

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  10. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.azen how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. azen on his email:(azentemple@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr azen the great spell caster on his email addresses (azentemple@gmail.com)or whatsapp Dr azen on (+2349038299828)

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