Before we reached Pago Pago, (pronounced pango pango) we crossed over the International dateline and had two Wednesday May 23s. That was strange.
In Pago Pago, our tour took us on a drive around the island. We experienced a lovely island steeped very much in the old traditions. There are somewhere between 62 and 84 villages. Each village has a family clan and each clan has a chief. They settle the local issues. Their religion is mostly Catholic. They have no cremation, and people have a family “cemetery” located on their own properties. – see below
Then there is a governor of the island and up until 1977, he was appointed by the USA. Since then they are elected by the people of American Samoa. However, the citizens there cannot vote in the USA, and our tour guide told us that therefore they were not responsible for the election of Trump. They do have a US passport.
Each village has a meeting house with open walls, as do individual clans. The average size family has seven plus members and generations of the family share the same home. There are six public high schools and one newly opened college. There is also a big US recruiting station on the island, and if young people do not leave the island to further their education and seek jobs, they join the service and go to the USA for education and military duty. There are more new recruits from this island than from mainland USA. Our guide said they then come back home to retire.
There are tuna canneries on the island and lots of coconuts. Our guide said everything is cooked with coconut. There is one golf course and it costs $5.00 to play 18 holes. Lovely looking course by the way, but it was closed because of damage to the club house from the cyclone in February. It would cost you approximately $82K to purchase a house with about a quarter acre of land. Wages are low with a minimum wage of $5.25 per hour.
Most men have beautiful tattoos on their bodies that look like works of art and symbols from their ancestors. We were treated to a ceremony at a local ‘meeting house’ with the chief and his family and were offered the ceremonial drink of Kava. The roots of the plant called Piper Methysticum are used to produce a drink with sedative, anesthetic and euphoriant properties. We have heard about Kava throughout the South Pacific cultures and countries that we have visited. I tried it and it had no taste, but seemed to numb my lips and tongue. Peyote mbs. But I didn’t fly and I am still here. Another lovely day with friendly happy people who stop and smile and wave as you pass by.
I have no idea of the name of this blossom/plant, but it was so beautiful that I had to share it along with the wonderful shape of the palm tree.
Side bar: Tattoooing – Samoa is the last of the Polynesian nations where traditional tattooing (tatau) is still widely practised – (albeit against the wishes of some religious leaders.) The traditional pe’a (male tattoo) covers the man’s body from the waist to the knees. Women can elect to receive a malu (female tattoo) but their designs cover only the thighs. The skills and tools of the tufuga pe’a (tattoo artist) were traditionally passed down from father to son, and sharpened shark teeth or boar tusks were used to carve the intricate designs into the skin. It was believed that the man being tattooed must not be left alone in case the aitu (spirits) took him. In most cases, the procedure takes at least a fortnight. Non-completion would cause shame to the subject and his ‘aiga.
uuuhhh…. I was thinking a little turtle tattoo might be nice……Just sayin’