Wednesday, November 21, 2012

American Samoa

Walking the Coast by Wayne-K
Walking the Coast, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I traveled to American Samoa last week for business, my second trip there this year. There are two flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago each week, on Monday and Thursday. For this trip, I flew to Honolulu on a Friday, spent the weekend with family, flew to Pago Pago on Monday, returned to Honolulu on Thursday, spent another weekend with family, and returned to California on Monday. After my time on two tropical islands, returning to the mainland was definitely a challenge spiritually.

The Samoa Islands are located in the South Pacific Ocean in the Polynesian Triangle, a triangle formed by imaginary lines connecting Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Within the Polynesian Triangle is the area known as Polynesia ("many islands"), which include New Zealand, Hawaii, Easter Island, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, and several other islands. Prior to my visits to American Samoa, I had only been to the Hawaiian Islands. I would, however, like to visit some of the other islands one day.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was exposed to the rich traditions and culture of the Hawaiian people. The Samoan and Hawaiian cultures and languages are very similar. The Hawaiian Mahi Mahi (dolphinfish) is the Samoan Masi Masi. The imu (Hawaiian underground oven) is very similar to the Samoan umu. The imu consists of a hole in the ground, lined with heated stones, whereas with the umu, the stones are put on the ground (instead of in a hole). Nonetheless, the names of the ovens and cooking techniques are very similar. I mentioned to my Samoan hosts how the umu is like an imu and the Samoan foods are very similar to the Hawaiian foods I’m accustomed to. In response, my Samoan friends reminded me…King Kamehameha’s ancestors came from Samoa. So, correction -- the imu is like the umu (and not vice versa).

It’s always a pleasure traveling to American Samoa. If there is a culture where people smile and laugh more than the Samoans, I have yet to meet them. Although I travel there on business, my Samoan “customers” always take time off from work to take me around. On this latest visit, they took me spear fishing. I borrowed a mask, snorkel, fins, and spear, and enjoyed my time poking holes in the coral (or as they say, “making sponges”). The fish didn’t appear afraid of my spear for some reason and in fact, I swear I heard them laughing at me as the spear missed them by a country mile.

Here are a few photos from my trip to American Samoa. I shot these using my new Panasonic LX5 camera.

Tiny Pools

John and Mike

American Samoa

American Samoa

View of the Ocean

20/52 - What a Wonderful World


Uncovering the Umu

Samoan Dinner

Reflecting on a Great Day

Blow Hole

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