Our last full day in Samoa dawned cloudy and somewhat cooler. Or perhaps we are beginning to get used to the heat and humidity. Yesterday was about 90 with a heat index of 105 and today was predicted to be similar but turned out to be cooler without the sun. The few times the sun did come out, it got steamy.
A quiet Sunday in Apia means not so much traffic and streets you can simply wander around on without anyone hawking Lava Lava’s, local potato chips, or veggies.
It was just us and the pigs. This little porker is a Number 1 Pig, or a small size. We never saw one but some of the crew mentioned Number 6 Pigs that they saw about town.
We actually didn’t do much either, not just because the town was shut down, but because it was a very rainy day. Tomorrow we begin out journey back to Montana. We will try to post something tomorrow, if not our next post will be from Montana.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure and a special thanks to the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program and the Officers and Crew of the good ship Ka’Imimoana for making this possible.
Wow! The Captain’s Luau was something else. We all got on a bus to Aggie Gray’s Resort at 5:30 in a tropical downpour and drove for about an hour through the Samoan countryside. As we drove we passed many small villages where it seemed everyone would wave at us. Once we got to the resort we took a look around and then we were seated for the luau, which included roast pig, fish, chicken, sweet potato, rice, noodles, coleslaw, and a variety of desserts.
While we were eating we were entertained by local music and dance.
…and for the finale the fire dance.
Saturday is market day in Apia. While there are vendors pretty much everywhere in Apia, there is also a central market where local goods crafts and other items are sold.
The main market is made up of many stalls, similar to a flea market. Some of the vendors have only Lava Lava’s (the local wrap skirt) and some have woodcarvings and other stalls have designs on the locally made Tapa Cloth.
Tapa is made from tree bark, and from listening to the tour guide at the Robert Lewis Stevenson home in Samoa; typically the paper mulberry or the breadfruit tree is used.
The grocery stores are very different than those we are used to in Montana. They are fairly small but have goods similar to those available to us. It is not uncommon to see small open air restaurants that sell fish “n” chips, chicken and other Samoan fair. The one pictured here is right next to the Samoan Central bank. Churches are quite an influence here. We passed many villages, churches and church schools on our trip to Aggie Grays resort yesterday evening. Some of the churches located in the countryside were as large as the one pictured below (located on the main street of Apia).
By about 2PM everything in town was shutting down in preparation of Sunday so we began to head back to the ship. The after noon gets a little warm and humid, and even the dogs like to find a shady spot to cool and recharge. Not a bad idea in the tropics.
Once we have a chance to do the same we plan on joining some of the crew for dinner at one of the local restaurants that is close to the ship. Maybe even the rainforest restaurant, which looks like a rainforest inside and out.
The first thing that needs to go in the Blog is a Big Thank You to the great folks at the Apia FedEx Office. They were very helpful and without them (and NOAA) Rick would have had a big headache getting the 300 plus shrunken cups back to the USA. His students don’t know how lucky they are to have such great friends in Samoa. Today began early with an invitation from Bob to join him on a drive about this part of the island.
We first hit the city center where the only McDonalds in Samoa is found (we actually avoided this American tradition in favor of the local fare). For lunch we stopped at a roadside café and had fish and chips for $6.50 Tala (or about $3.00 US) a heck of a deal, and it was fresh and cooked to order.
While we had a rental car, private car ownership is relatively rare (or has been until recently) and the more common forms of transportation in Apia are taxi’s and buses.They are like weeds and they are everywhere.
After a brief stop at a market to get some water and snacks were off for the Robert Lewis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island, The strange case of Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, and many other books) Museum. The grounds of this estate are lush with plants of vibrant tropical color. It was also nice to be a little higher in the mountains where the air is cooler and the wind a little fresher.
While we were on our way back to the ship we were fortunate to see a man fishing in his outrigger on one of the many lagoons around the island. Tonight we head off for a special luau that the Captain is giving for the crew. We will hopefully have a full report tomorrow.
During our journey to Samoa we have had very nice accommodations and entertainment facilities. There are two lounges each with a big screen TV and plenty of movies to watch. The only live TV channel available by satellite is FOX news (go figure!).
In addition to movies, there is also a fully equipped gym with weights, cross-trainer, elliptical, and treadmill. When exercising you can listen to your favorite tunes or watch your favorite video.
Samoa at last! We started smelling land just about dawn today and slowly, it seemed slow anyway, made our way toward the mouth of the Apia harbor. The closer we got to the harbor the easier it was to make out the mountains and the city itself.
Once we got to within a couple of miles of the harbor, we were joined by a pilot boat and two Samoan harbor pilots came aboard the KA to make sure we got into the harbor safely.
Once under their guidance we made our way in and proceeded to secure the lines and set the gangway so the customs officials could come on and clear us to go ashore.
Once the gangway was down the customs officials board the ship and check our passports against the customs form that we were required to complete before disembarking. The whole process was very easy and only took about an hour. At that point we were then given the OK to disembark and explore the town.
Apia looks to be a city of about 50,000 so it between Helena and Billings in size. Tomorrow we will do some exploring and see what Apia and Samoa have to offer.
Steaming and dreaming, that was the order of the day. We had the opportunity to spend a little more time on the bridge today. Here you can see three of the Ensign’s standing watch. While on the bridge we learn about how the radar works.
Most people in Montana are familiar with the concept of radar since that is the basic method used to measure our speed.What do you think is similar about the radar on the ship? What is different?
We also took a look at the ship’s wheel.Like most people we envisioned the wheel to be like one you would see in an old movie or perhaps like those on the tall ships of old. The wheel of the KA is smaller than the average steering wheel, but it gets the job done.
We participated in several meetings to prepare us for our stay in Samoa.One presentation, made by Joe our Electronics Technician was focused on customs and taboos that we need to be aware of as guests and representatives of the US government. Joe has a unique and useful understanding of Samoa since his wife is from Western Samoa and he has lived here so he knows what we can and can’t do.
We also decided we better do laundry today! The washers and dryers will be secured tonight for our arrival in Samoa tomorrow morning. While the crew visits the island, the engineers will need to purge the sewage system of gray water – water from cooking, showers, toilets etc. The ship will also take on water from the port at Apia, Samoa were we are docking. The ship has great laundry facilities and also very nice exercise equipment. Even though we are seeing the pacific, we still have to take of our chores!
Land tomorrow! Until then happy sailing and calm seas.