I am faced with a dilemma when we enter Pago Pago. Dare I go as far to take my personal ‘most beautiful place in the world title’ away from my beloved Indonesia? Will it be ok with Hawaii if I say that Samoa is prettier? It is like choosing between Megan Fox and her twin sister if she had one. Impossible.
The morning mist rolls down the steep cliffs that are covered with palm trees, all the way to the ocean. The jungle is alive with bats going to rest after a night on the prowl. The Rainmaker is still sleeping and the blue of the morning predicts another beautiful day in paradise.
The base pumping from the stereo is deafening while the wind blowing through the windowless bus is cool and refreshing. It’s a colourful ride along the coastal road to Nu’uuli. I get off at FatumaFuti. These two natural rock features guard the entrance to Pago Pago, Fatu being the male, Futi the female. After spending a considerable amount of time trying to mentally match the alluring blueness of the water to that of a man made colour chart, I give up and start walking back toward the ship to meet up with Tam. In the forty-five minute walk back it is no exaggeration when I say more than fifty people greet me. They either wave at me or say Talofha! Samoans are some of the friendliest people I have ever met.
When you only have a few hours to spend on an island that could easily take you years to explore, it can be hard to make a decision as to what to do for the day. Do we go trekking in the lush jungle and jump down waterfalls, or do we spend the day on a beach, snorkelling in water that teems with life and get drenched by the equatorial sun? Luckily we come back to Pago Pago, so we opt for the latter.
It is a beautiful place, absolutely stunning. I fall in love with American Samoa and I start making plans in my mind how I could live in the jungle. The tasty Vailima beer feeds the fire in my mind. The daydream comes to an end when the Rainmaker wakes up and a five-minute downpour later the sun shines again.
When everyone goes back on board the ship I walk up into Fagatoga, a neighbourhood in Pago Pago. As the streets become narrower and the sounds of the town life disappear, I get a real feel for what living on the island must be like. I feel protected under the shade of the palm trees. When I sit down to imagine what my shack would look like if I had to live here, an elderly man approaches me, he tells me his mother is the village leader and that they own the land around us. I think about asking him for a patch of paradise but offer him a ciggie instead. He smiles as he tells me about some waterfalls further up the hill and that when I come back next time he will show them to me. It seems I will get to do the jungle trek in the end.
Around every corner there is something new to experience. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place and when it is time to wash the sand off my feet at the end of the day, I hesitate because I want to keep the little bit of magic on me. When I wake up the next morning I find grains of sand in the bed and unlike having cookie crumbles between the covers, the feeling of it makes me smile.
Fatu has a large fruit bat colony nestled among the palms
Fatu, guarding over Pago Pago and his lover, Futi