Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jeremy & Ned’s Matafao Peak Hike

Matafao is the highest point on the island, 2,142 feet above sea level.  Ned, a former High Court clerk, and I  went on a day hike to the very top.  You can see this beautiful peak from our house.  The hike takes around 4.5 hours.  You begin by climbing an old rusted ladder through a banana field.  Next you spend a few hours walking through a rain forest.  Then finally you climb out of the forest, above the tree line, and into were only small shrubs can cling to the minimal soil.  From there Ned and I had to make a slippery and mostly vertical climb to the summit.  The view is well worth it.  However, on the way down Ned fell off the side of the mountain when we were just a few hundred feet from the top.  Luckily, he fell and rolled into a group of bushes and he was not hurt.  But we were both scared.  But by time you make it back down you are very glad the hike is over.  We were both tired and muddy.  I will go back again but not for a few months.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Umu at Tisa's with the Humane Society

We went to Tisa's for a traditional Samoan Umu with a group from the Humane Society to celebrate having Tanya, a visiting veterinarian from Australia, on the island. An umu is a method of cooking food by using hot rocks to slow roast the meal. Enjoy the pictures of the event.


Since Mama was here on our 3 month anniversary of being in American Samoa we decided it was time to ditch this rock and see another rock. So we set off for Samoa (an independent nation) where we could see a larger city and some different sites. We hopped on a tiny plane and took a 20 minute ride over to the island of Upolu which is much larger and much more tourist friendly. We stayed in Apia, the capital city, our first night where we walked around and smelled the aroma of no emissions standards and had a fabulous dinner at Paddles. One of the big perks of going to Samoa is eating, they have lovely restaurants that compare to 4 star restaurants in the states and the service is impeccable.

The next morning we headed out to see the island in the last available rental car on island (I won't mention how it was infested with roaches, enough to populate Florida all over again, YUCK). So we headed up and over, right through the middle of the island seeing one of the few Baha'i Temples in the world, the beautiful 300’ Tiavi waterfall, and Robert Louis Stevenson's house.


By the time we made it over to the other side of the island we realized that it was pretty much impossible to have lunch anywhere so we stopped for a huge Coke, Sprite, and chips and asked directions for the Aganoa Black Sand Beach. Down the road on the left where there is a man with a sign. Great, a guy with a sign and a mere 10 Tala that lets us know that it is ok for us to be there. The road there was long and bumpy but the beach was fantastic. It was black sand and some fairly easy swimming. Mama may not agree since she was kind of drug back onto the beach with a suit full of sand, but snorkel fins can have that effect on a person. The local kids really enjoyed the show, they also enjoyed finishing off our drinks and chips while we were not looking. We wished we had more to give them.IMG_5467-1 IMG_5481-1


Then we were off to the National Park Water Falls. This is a very nice park where there are 3 stages of falls that you can jump into and from one to the other. The kids had no fear and so that put Jeremy up to the challenge, so off he went over the edge of the largest jump. Me, I took about 20 minutes to work up the guts to do the first small jump and about 20 more for the next slightly larger jump. But I did it and now I can say "I did that." We all enjoyed the cold water swim at the bottom of the falls.

Off the cliff he goes!

Working up the courage.

Oh Crap I am out there now!

“I did that.”

Enjoying the pool.

After this it was off to To Sua Ocean Trench. This is 2 huge holes created from Lava tubes, one you can climb down into and swim around where the ocean comes into it. Jeremy was gung ho for climbing down and I gave it a try but chickened out. So Mama and I watched Jeremy climb down the huge ladder and swim around a bit. Then we checked out the beautiful views of the ocean there.


Then it was time to find our spot for he night. Lupe Sina Fales, a nice group of Fales on the ocean with individual restrooms and "walls" made out of lattice. The couple that owned the place were from Oregon and had recently purchased the place after coming there a number of years. They had a nice restaurant where we chowed down on some Fish and chips. The stars were amazing that night even with a few clouds. I don't think any of us slept too well but we all enjoyed the complementary pancakes and French toast in the morning.




After that busy day we had a Sunday to finish our drive back around to Apia. Sundays are a bit harder to do and see things on these islands, you have to be very respectful of their customs. We did get to stop at some places fortunately. We hit up two more waterfalls. At the first, Fuipisia Falls,we had our own personal tour guide, a boy of around 12 who said he was 20. (Lost in translation I believe.) They had a beautiful path lined with all types of flowering plants and a magnificent waterfall that dropped 180 feet down.



At the next waterfall, Sopo’ga Falls, the family had all of the plants labeled with their Samoan, English and Scientific names. So we were more interested on the plants than the waterfall here. And the woman gave us a demonstration of how you make coconut cream (or how she makes coconut cream). She was very kind and helped us to better understand some of her culture. She also had some very fat chickens who loved to eat the coconut after it had been squeezed.




The we just enjoyed the ride back to Apia, where we checked into the Pasefika Inn, where a sweet lady from Georgia was the manager. What a small world! Jeremy and I left Mama there to read and headed out to Sliding Rock. Where you slide on the Rocks down the different waterfalls. Of course Jeremy did not hesitate but I was a chicken again. But I did it and now I can say, "I did that."


After our return we went to Giordano’s for some pizza and pasta! I love Italian and we do not have it in American Samoa unless Pizza Hut counts? The next day was all about the shopping and a little bit of snorkeling and Palo Deep marine Reserve. We all got some great souvenirs to take back with us. I was a great trip and now I can say "I did that" and "I want to do that again."



Other Mini Adventures

Our Drive to Vatia, Afono, and the National Park

Cockscomb Point

Fia Fia Night

Tisa's Barefoot Bar

Trying to get a feet shot.

Hike to the WWII Blunts Point Guns

Mother and Daughter Trip to Aunu'u


Blowholes at Airport Beach

A Turtle!

00263A WWII Pillbox

Basket Weaving Class