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Life in America Samoa

May 28, 1990

School is over on June 8 and we will leave as soon as we can after that date. From here we sail to Tonga for a month or two and then on to Fiji. From there our plans are up in the air (down on the sea?). Probably Australia for the hurricane season. There should be lots to see and do while we are there. We’ll be at one of the ports near the Great Barrier Reef so the snorkeling should be fantastic. Ever since I was in sixth grade, and had Australia as one of my social studies units, I’ve wanted to go there. I wrote to the Virginia Department of Education about renewing my credential through courses taken in Australia and have yet to hear from them. Both my Virginia and DoDDS credentials expire in 1993 and I need six semester hours of graduate credit in education by that time. If worst comes to worst, we can hole up in Guam where I can take courses through the DoDDS program or other U.S. extension courses.

On Thursday, my class did a melodrama that I wrote called "Woe is Me." It was lots of fun and the kids enjoyed taking part, We even had the villain tie the heroine to train tracks and the hero rescue her before our cardboard "train" came roaring across the "stage" (complete with authentic train whistle). We had the usual signs to remind the audience to boo and hiss the villain, cheer the hero, and oo and ah the heroine. I’m going to firm it up now and send it in to "Plays" magazine for possible publishing.

We’ve started our provisioning for our trip and, with the large selection of reasonably priced goods, we’re already overstocked and haven’t even gotten the basics (flour, sugar, toilet paper, etc.). That will come next payday. There are also a lot of last minute items: "Flag colors" of fabric to make courtesy flags for when we enter a port; yards of other fabric to make something when I have the time; plastic bobbins to replace the rusting metal ones, and other things. I canned eight pints of pork and want to can some chicken and hamburger patties. Then comes the fun when we have to stow all of this away securely to prevent breakage and to keep things from rattling while underway.

I invited the kids in my class out to the boat last Saturday. We’re at a mooring so the kids had to be ferried back and forth by dinghy. The ones who came loved it. This Saturday I had the teachers, spouses and children out. Bigger turnout and lots of trips for Bob from ship to shore. It was a perfect day. "Dry season" is just beginning and the weather was warm, dry and breezy, like Panama during dry season.

 Samoans are very loving, family-centered people. They take care of their own. What they have, they share: money, possessions, time. If you go to the Bingo games held almost nightly throughout the island, and if you happen to win, you are expected to share the winnings with those around you. You keep only a small part for yourself. We were invited to attend a Samoan church service last Monday and then to sample Samoan foods at the pastor’s house. There were nine of us all squished into a station wagon owned by one of the yachties who works at the bank. We had trouble finding the church and were a few minutes late but so was the Samoan lady who had made the arrangements. The service was in Samoan but the pastor stopped every once in a while and explained something in English. The singing was beautiful. Only a few people attended the Monday evening prayer service yet they sounded like an entire choir singing in three part harmony—and without an organ or piano or music director. We had a delightful time and thoroughly enjoyed the company of the pastor, his wife, daughter and husband, miscellaneous small children and a few neighbors. They patiently answered our questions about the food, their jobs, etc., and we went away with a very pleasant feeling about Samoa and well as being pleasantly full from all the delicious foods (especially the octopus cooked in its own ink!). One of the ladies, after questioning us about our lifestyles made this observation: You people work hard and save your money and then buy a boat so you can sail around and enjoy life. Here is Samoa we work hard and give our money and possessions away to make others happy. Some of their customs aren’t so bad after all!

I’m enclosing some pictures of the Flag Day Fautasi race. These are 80-90 foot canoes paddled by 40-50 men that get up to speeds of 18 knots during a race. I had to work that day (our last hurricane make-up day), but Bob found himself right on the finish line and had a great view of those huge canoes heading right for him.

We finally had a period of dead calm early this morning (only an hour, but who’s complaining?) so I hopped into the dinghy and painted "Pago Pago, A.S." under Hunky-Dory on the stern. Now we even look official. We have an American Samoa flag to fly (red, white and blue, with a large eagle). We are American Samoan registry which means we’re also U.S. registry, Now we shouldn’t have any more problems about being from Panama, with all the inconvenience and knowing looks of customs officials.

The next time you hear from us we’ll be in Tonga. I hear the country’s stamps are as fantastic as the view! I’m looking forward to swimming in clear water again. please use our Seattle forwarding address from now on. I’m not sure when we’ll send for our mail, so be prepared for long delays between letters.

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