We have arrived! In American Samoa, actually, Pago Pago to be precise—not our ultimate destination of the island of Savai’i, village of Asau, Western Samoa, but we’ve flown halfway around the world to be where we are tonight. You’d think we’d feel like celebrating, but we’re so tired that all we can do is take showers and fall into our hotel beds. That’s all Hannah can do, anyway; I told her she’ll thank me for this later, even though the clicking of computer keys may annoy her initially.
I got up at 5 a.m. this morning, my suitcases packed, my breakfast ready; I took off with Dad for the airport exactly on time, thinking I had absolutely everything I needed. Confession: I did forget my toothbrush. I’ve packed 144 of them up and shipped them over to Samoa, and here I am forgetting my own! L
Hannah and I met at the baggage check-in. I HATE checking in luggage, for some reason—it’s right up there with the ever-present, oft-annoying security. But I did get some nice folks to help me with the process. The official who inspected my passport, when she heard my ultimate destination, commented, “This sounds like quite an adventure you’re starting on.” I thought , Lady, you don’t know the half of it! Amazingly, the officials checked my bags all the way through to Samoa, which was what I had been hoping would happen. We got through security and to our gate in time to board in the accustomed way—standing in endless lines, shuffling after the person in front of you, your shoulders and hands increasingly sweaty and swollen from the weight of your carryon.
Our first flight, from Cleveland to San Francisco, was uneventful. Our second flight, from San Francisco to Honolulu, was also uneventful. This is one case where uneventful is good, even though it makes for less interesting journal entries and news stories. Things began to get a little more memorable once we got to Honolulu. I’ve never been to Hawaii, so it was intriguing to see all the leis, loud shirts, and palm trees, and hear all the ‘Aloha’s. These things seem so stereotypically Hawaiian that I had mentally relegated them to old TV shows and goofy radio skits. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get a lei myself! Hannah’s baggage had not gotten the break that mine had—she had to claim it and check it in again in Honolulu. While claiming the baggage, we met Mrs. Civale (for the record, I saw her before Hannah did!). Pastor Civale was in the airport elsewhere, but their son, Salvatore (Tory) was nowhere to be found. We kept our eyes peeled for him as we moved off to check in Hannah’s bags.
Hannah has, among others, a certain green suitcase, which I early on christened Patrick, purely because he is green. Patrick was loaded to the gills and on 360 degree rollers, meaning, in theory, that you could push, pull, or drag him along. I was given the job of pushing Patrick. We did not get on—soon it became an out and out war as Patrick kept insisting on doing U-turns, at one point running over my little toe. When we got to the check in desk, Hannah discovered that she had come to the wrong airline to check in! So we had to walk back the entire length of the baggage terminal, with me lugging, wheeling, and fighting Patrick the whole way. I’m glad that all of Hannah’s suitcases are not so recalcitrant!
We met up with the Civales, had a bite to eat, and were actually at the gate when Tory showed up. The last time I saw him, he was eleven—naturally, he’s changed somewhat since then.
Our last flight, from Honolulu to Pago Pago, was again uneventful. I slept. That about sums it up.
Arriving in Samoa was a unique experience for me. People everywhere you turn; a climate so humid that you can feel it on your skin; fans whirring away on the ceiling in place of air conditioning; and, of course, the ‘men in skirts’ thing. I know, for them it’s traditional clothing, but it certainly does seem unusual when you first see it. My bags were late in coming; I was so nervous they weren’t going to show up, and then what was I going to do with virtually no extra clothes?! Happily, they did turn up at last.
Now I’m in the Tradewinds Hotel here in Pago Pago (pronounced Pongo Pongo). Our methods of travel today were fairly orthodox—tomorrow may not be so easy or as normal.