Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vatia Reloaded

Well, we went back to Vatia on Saturday, and although it was nothing like "The Matrix," it was still a nice trip. I personally think that the some of the coral out past the reef in Vatia is some of the most beautiful and healthy on the island.
The drive to Vatia is also one of the most beautiful drives on Tutuila (as is shown above with the Cockscomb in the background). We just love this drive.
Both sides of the island are beautiful from the top. The picture above shows the North side of the island; the picture below is Pago harbor on the South side.
We walked out to the Cockscomb this time. To get there, you have to drive and walk for a time through American Samoa National Park.

A close-up of the Cockscomb shows that the water was pretty wild. Apparently, this location is a sanctuary for certain types of birds who live in the cliffs above the water. You can also see where the water cut a crevass in the rock.

So after collecting shells and taking pictures, we went back to Unita's house. Remember our friend Unita? She once told me, "you can just call me 'United States of American Samoa.'" She's a really sweet lady who never charges you to come to her beach. She's also a hoot to talk to. Here she is with Jessi, Caroline and Piper.

Right next to her house is a huge Banyan tree. All five roots here are part of the same tree.

After swimming, we made our way back home. On the way we took more pictures. Here's a picture of a fruit bat that was moving too fast. They're all over the place.

One more picture of the Cockscomb will do it justice.


What?! Since when did KHJ give away free Gatorade and Gatorade hats?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Traffic Report

FM radio call-in shows in the states are so hard to call into. Sometimes the prize is pretty nice, and since there are a lot of people listening, you almost have to have superhuman telephone-calling capabilities in order to win anything.

None of that is true in American Samoa. There's a Samoan station or an English station, or there are a number of Christian music stations. But there is really only one FM top 40 music station--KHJ.

Mike and I listen to KHJ every morning, since there's nothing else really to listen to (my apologies to John, Nana and Sene). Whether its the music, the really ridiculous Samoan commericals, or the SUPER exciting (?!) morning radio contests, our morning drive to work is just filled with excitement (especially during the "Seven o'clock Honk," which is a self-proclaimed "celebration of love and happiness").

But I'm not really sure that any of the contests are worth your time. For example, a few days ago KHJ gave away $9.30 and a $10.00 phone card to the winner of the "Bumper Bucks" contest. Nine dollars? For the other contests, movie trivia and the traffic report, the prize is even worse--a few bags of Bongos (cheese or chicken flavored crackers), a container of Milo (a drink sort of like Ovaltine) and some baby wipes. Every morning I am left thinking "who would ever get excited over THAT stuff?"

So yesterday morning I called in to the traffic report while we were driving. This is like the most ridiculous of the three contests, because there is only one major road in AS and so even if you called in and told the station that there was a traffic jam on AS Highway 1 it's not like drivers could take the freeway or the belt route to get around the jam. They HAVE to take Hwy 1.

So I'm telling John that the traffic is flowing smoothly past IBM Laundromat and Mike is making snarky laughs in the background because he can't believe that WE got into the dumbest radio contest ever. Heck, the morning host even knew my last name when I called in--the palagi community is so small! I even got in a wisecrack about another friend of ours who drives around a girl car. In the end, though, I had to ask, farcically, "so, do I get the Bongos?"

I was then, and am now considered, an instant radio celebrity.

And last night as we drove to a dinner party, we stopped by the radio station so I could get loaded up with a disgusting bagload of Bongos and Milo. So now that I am in possession of the prize, has my perception of KHJ call-in contests changed? Am I now a big fan of the chump-change money contests and the Bongos? Have I been converted to the gospel of radio voyeurism? Might I someday--as one of our friends has done--go on the radio to show off my new mullet hairstyle and then go back on the radio to get it chopped off?


p.s. - I don't really have a mullet hairstyle.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mr. Potato visits Papayaland

I forgot to mention that former Gov. Pulele'iite Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho was in American Samoa last week for a visit as Secretary of Interior. The Samoan title "Pulele'iite," given to Kempthorne while he was here, incidentally means "the ruler who can fortell the future." Didn't know your former Guv. was a fortune-teller, did you, Idahoans?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Maliu Mai

On Saturday, Jaydn went to his friend Trey's birthday party. Jessi and I took off for a quick date at Maliu Mai Beach Resort. Jaydn, of course, would have had to be "accombanied" by parents if he came with us.

Maliu Mai is located on a really beautiful stretch of shoreline. They just recently created a "freshwater pool" by drilling into the lava rock right on the shore. At low tide, the "fresh" water pool was filled with salt water and extra stuff you don't normally want in a fresh water pool.

We swam for a little while, but then we decided to just take pictures of us jumping into the pool.

Gotta love my wicked Batman jump. Then we went over to Freddie's Beach to swim in the pool. But we got kicked out by the manager because we didn't live there. Gosh, I feel like I'm 18 again!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tabloid Day... not the day you read "National Enquirer," "Star," and other ridiculous magazines. No, Tabloid Day is a Kiwi term for "kids-get-together-and-play-a-whole-bunch-of-messy-games" day.

On the way to Tabloid Day, held at our friends the Thomas's home, Jessi saw a large shipping boat out in the ocean and took this picture:

Jaydn had a blast.

And got in a huge mess.
"We love getting messy so our moms have to clean us three times a day!!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Change of Scenery

Drive to my current job:

Drive to my job starting in September:

I guess I can adjust.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Own Little Pele

Jaydn has quite recently become entranced with the game of soccer. He started a summer league (nothing like the AYSO or other leagues in the states) that is offered by the government at no cost. Aside from the teachers coming late to practice, Jaydn thoroughly enjoys it and his soccer skills are improving.

Heck, he can almost score a goal on me!

Watch out David Beckham!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Return to Ainu'u

I would call it "Back to Ainu'u," but my blog entry titles are getting old ("Back to Sailele was the last one). "Return to Ainu'u" sounds more like a movie, though. Whatever.

Why I didn't check the weather and tide calendar before we left I'll never know. It didn't rain or anything, but the wind was strong and the tide was high. That means that the beautiful Ainu'u beaches were off limits.

So, we swam in the boat dock again. Sounds boring, but it is actually not that bad. The water is really green-blue and see-through. It's a great, safe place to snorkel and swim, with a good view of the island we call home (for two more months).

To snorkel here, you either have to climb down the rocks or jump in off the dock.

No fear.

We thoroughly enjoyed being taunted by Ainu'u kids who told us we're "chickens" that "can't swim" and "look funny." I especially enjoyed being challenged to a swim race back to Tutuila. "And when I win, you give me fifty bucks." Yeah, right.

But I could've done without their blasting rendition of Akon's "Don't Matter": "NOBODY WANNA SEE US TOGETHER BUT IT DON'T MATTER NO . . . ." I guess it struck me as odd that 6 to 10-year-olds on the small island of Ainu'u would be jammin' out to Akon. Go figure.

I did, however, enjoy their antics on the boat ramp. The thing is slippery as heck, and they just slid right down it on their feet. I was ready to see some heads splat open on the cement, but they were pretty good.

We spent a lot of time practicing our dives off the dock. I only got pictures of Jessi's dives, but she insisted I keep them off the blog. Jaydn is a great diver, but for some reason I only could catch a picture once he was submerged. I, on the other hand, dive kind of weird (either my legs curled in towards my stomach, or bent back towards my rear). I couldn't get my blasted legs to stick out straight. So, no pics of my dives (only gut-busting laughs from Jessi).

But, here is the "Herbie" boat, in all it's glory (one of the boats to and from Tutuila). Sometimes it's literally "standing room only" across the rough waves.

Jaydn found this long reed with string attached to the end of it. With his ingenuity, he figured he could find a crab leg sitting on the ground, tie it to the string, and go fishing. And that's just what he did.I wasn't sure if fish ate crab legs (at least, not like I do), but I enjoyed watching Jaydn's mind at work. Maybe sometime I should tell you about the robot he intends to build when he gets back to Idaho. The only thing he's not entirely sure of is how to get "electric." Knowing Jaydn, I'm sure he'll figure it out.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

$100 Jeans

It always drove me nuts when I'd hear that someone spent upwards of $100 on an item of clothing. It makes as much sense to spend $48 for a pack of BIC pens, or other ridiculous sprees. Who would ever do such a thing? The American Samoa Government.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Back to Sailele

We went back to Sailele today. The beach and village are really nice. Even the villagers seem to be a little nicer than most.

Where have we seen this before?

It was a very, very beautiful day!

Jaime, Jessi and Liz

The road continues on through the village, but I wouldn't really drive (?!) on it. It's more like a 'walking road.'

Mark and I hiked around the hill to the next village, which had some pretty good, deep areas to snorkel (Sailele, on the other hand, is always shallow--not one of its selling points).

We came back and everyone was sitting under the coconut trees. The locals were cutting open sweet coconuts for us. One guy must have cut open 15-20. I don't know why so many. It must be the power you feel wielding a machete or something. Or maybe he's just Samoan.

Jaydn and his friends decided to wrestle in the sand. He got really dirty.

After the women begged and pleaded for him to, our coconut-cutter showed us how to climb up the trees. First he had to explain that he needed shorts, because his lava lava wouldn't be appropriate attire up in the tree.

Then Jessi decided to try.

And try.

And try again.
At least she tried.

What a nice day.

Only in American Samoa

I've discussed the prison system several times already. Well, here's another not-so-great story about our inmates:

Inmate walks out of court and out of sight under TCF watch
By La PoasaSamoa News Staff

Immediately after District Court Judge John L. Ward II continued his case yesterday afternoon to another date, inmate Atoa "Anytime" Sipili walked away from where he sat with his attorney, told the TCF officer in the courtroom that he was going out for a smoke and disappeared.

Minutes later, the TCF officer that was in the courtroom and another officer who was outside of the courthouse were busy looking for Sipili, an inmate in his late 60s who was arrested for a second time driving under the influence offense.

The TCF officers looked around the courthouse, drove to the marketplace to look for Sipili and checked out the nearby buildings, but Sipili was nowhere to be found.

Ward had remanded Sipili back to the custody of the TCF so that the defendant be returned to jail pending the outcome of his case.

After leaving the courtroom for a so-called smoking break, Sipili supposedly met up with the TCF guard that was outside. According to one witness, once outside, Sipili took off his orange jumpsuit uniform, which easily identified him as an inmate, and told the officer that the judge had released him and that he was free to go.

And then he was gone.

As of yesterday evening, police were still looking for Sipili, who apparently had earned the trust of the two TCF officers. He didn't get a supervised escort by an officer when he left the courtroom, as is the procedure, nor was he questioned by the officer if the judge had really OK'd his release.

Sipili, who is on probation for a 2006 assault conviction, is scheduled to have a full hearing regarding his DUI case next Tuesday.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Our (?) Puppies

We seem to have adopted (?) some puppies. Or, should I say, the puppies adopted us.

They were birthed in our neighbor's yard by a stray mother. So for weeks we heard puppies yelping in the night (probably afraid of the dark). They have a good mother (always taking care of them).
For some reason, not by any of our own doing, these dogs decided they liked our yard better. Now, they live on right beneath our bedroom window. We have no intention of making these mangy, flea-infested muts "our" dogs, but, boy, when they look up at you and whine, you can't help but feel for them. They sure are cute (by Samoan dog standards).

The white one always growls at me.