For those of you who don't know that Dad's nerdiness even extends to playing with Legos as an adult... well now you do! In planning for the future, we of course brought some Legos to the island for Noah and it was time to introduce them.
We re-visited a little beach area near Pago Pago called "Fatu ma Futi", the story goes like this...
There was a Samoan couple named Fatu and Futi who sailed from Savaii, an island which is part of Western Samoa, about 300 miles away from Tutuila (American Samoa's biggest island). Fatu and Futi traveled on a canoe many days and nights but could not find Tutuila . As they traveled, strong winds and heavy rain tossed the canoe and caused it to capsize. Fatu and Futi swam hard for days and nights to find rescue. After two days of fear and misery they finally reached the shore of Tutuila, but Fatu and Futi could not endure the hard time they had faced and both died and changed into big "rocks". The two big rocks are still standing side by side along the shore, Fatu (the man) is the big one and Futi (the women) is the smaller one (I didn't get a my own pic of Futi... had to grab the second photo online).
We didn't have the sunniest day but Noah made the best of it...
Unfortunately we were not able to put the water camera to very good use. It was cloudy and soon after we arrived our snorkel mask broke. We did still manage a couple "fish pics", Mom spotted and eel hiding in a rock as we were wading through the water. It was small, but I'm pretty sure it wanted to bite my finger off...
In addition to that, there are always sea cucumbers all over the sea bed. They are black or grey slug like creatures that slink along the sea bottom. Not very exciting, but a fun fact is their defense mechanism which is to expel some of their internal organs out there butts... yum! They can later regenerate the expelled organs. They are eaten here occasionally and popular in Asian cultures, but it takes a lot of work clean and prepare them.
NOAH NEWS: Noah is in the process of getting his next tooth (#6) and never got a break from the last one... poor kid!! He did get to help Mom make pancakes.
We had heard of airport beach, and even read about it before our arrival, but nobody we talked to on island had actually been there. It seems that a 20-30 minute hike deters way more people then I would have thought... but not us!! We packed up a couple bags of food and beach necessities and headed out for an adventure. As you could probably guess our destination beach is located very close to the airport. We hiked for what I think was 20 minutes, but I can't be sure since this is an island and it was the weekend... who needs to look at the time?! The trail was along the airport fence which skirts the southern shoreline of the island. The first part of the walk consisted of waves breaking on the shore creating dramatic splashing and blow holes. We had to walk almost directly over one blow hole which is intimidating even though you know its just air and water, they can be super loud. I'll try and post a video of one in the future. As we continued on the shore became more protected by reef and we arrived at a small but very secluded beach.
We had this place to ourselves for the entire day! Alone on a tropical beach... poor us! The reef here is amazing, at low tide you can see fish and live coral in ankle deep water... it's incredible. When I put a mask on and looked underwater I laughed out load in amazement, it is literally like being in an ocean documentary. This motivated me to buy the underwater camera I had been meaning to pick up, so there will be fish pictures in the near future. I finally saw a turtle as it swam past me in knee deep water, I can't wait to swim along side one in the future. Here is a pic of the reef from above the surface... (it got more impressive as you moved out, but I wasn't risking the camera)
Ever see a blue starfish? They seem to be common around here...
We spent the whole day swimming, eating and collecting shells/coral. There are definetly worse places to sit and nurse a baby...
Noah absolutely loved the whole day. He played in the sand and looked for shells onshore. As we walked out in the water (careful not to step on live corals) he was looking everywhere and pointing at the fish.
This beach also included a little piece of history. During WWII measures where taken to protect the island, this included the installation of shore defense locations consisting of cement housing or "pill boxes". Two of these still remain along airport beach.
We have also made some recent stops at Sliding Rock and discovered a small black sand beach just off our road. We were pretty surprised nobody had mentioned the beach before and when I asked our neighbor she seemed to think that black sand wasn't nice. Ha! More beach for us.
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: Don't got to airport beach :)
While living on an island may limit many types of food available, seafood is not one of those things. What is normally reserved for a special occasion is just a $20 dinner here!
Chicks... or should I say "chick". Last Saturday I was sitting on the couch and kept hearing a very loud screech, I peeked outside to see a local dog stepping on a baby chicken for fun. Being the bleeding heart that I am, I could not just let the little thing be tortured to death. So that is how we got a pet chicken for a day. I wasn't sure how badly it was hurt so I brought it in and put it in a box with some grains and watched for a bit. After a couple hours it was back on it's feet, eating and filling the house with little chirps. Noah liked watching the little bird run around it's box, there is always something new to look at here. Once the little one seemed healthy, I figured it would have a much better chance of survival outside, so it was returned to where I normally see the mama chicken.
Play-date.... Noah had his first play-date last week. There is a group of Mom's on the island that try and do things together to stay sane. Noah visited a little one year old girl and things went smoothly. Hopefully this helps him become more well adjusted than his father :)
NOAH NEWS: Noah still wakes up twice a night, but he is adorable when he is actually sleeping!
Last week I participated in the Pacific Water and Wastes Association's annual conference here in A.S. It was a great chance for me to meet folks from around the Pacific region and get a more "touristy" view of this island. In preparation for the conference I had to wear the appropriate apparel, which meant putting on a skirt or a ee-ah-fah-tanna (that's how you pronounce it and I have no idea how to spell it).
To kick things off I got to attend a kava ceremony. Kava is a root that grows in the Pacific region which is dried, ground up, then mixed with water and filtered producing a muddy water to drink. It has a bitter taste and a slight numbing effect on your mouth and produces a subtle relaxing feeling. On the Samoan islands kava ceremonies are reserved for major events or to welcome important visitors. On some other islands, Fiji in particular, kava is drunken quiet frequently. The kava ceremony is always held in a fale and on this occasion was in one of the larger fales near Pago Pago.
This conference was a pretty big deal here and the "big chiefs" were in attendance, as well as the Governor. Big chiefs are the dudes with no shirts on. The ceremony consisted of a lot of yelling in Samoan, followed by the waving, collecting and distribution of large Kava roots. Unfortunately none of the ceremony was translated nor was any of the significance explained.
After some more yelling a kava bowl was brought forth along with some younger men and a women in traditional clothing. They simulated the preparation of Kava and then it was passed out the pre-prepared drink in a coconut shell (just one) to all the distinguished guest. I was not one of them.
I did however get to sample some Kava later that day. After several presentations in our conference hall the guys from Fiji got bored and made their own kava in the back of the hall.
The conference ran for 3 days, I gave a small presentation at the treatment plant and spent a lot of time networking. We got to visit one of the island resorts for dinner, they had a great pool right on the shore....
NOAH NEWS: Noah got tooth number five this Tuesday (9/16/14) and Mom and Dad wish they would all just come in already!!
TIPS FOR FUTURE A.S. RESIDENTS: At 6PM some villages have family prayer time. This is initiated by a "bell", which is really and old compressed air tank they bang on. From 6PM to 6:15PM there is a sort of curfew in effect. You will know this is happening because there will be men wearing matching lava lava's along the roadside. During this time you can not stop, turn around or do anything in these villages. They are extremely over zealous about the matter and I have heard stories of extreme over reaction. One former employee at my work had his car bombarded with coconuts for turning around in a driveway.
Mom has been a coconut enthusiast for years now and we thought we knew a lot about them. Last weekend we were pleased to discover a new and delicious coconut treat created when a coconut begins to sprout into a new tree. When the coconut has about 18 inches of leaves growing from it, the entire inside (where you typically find the coconut water) turns into a sweet spongy ball. This stuff is like natures sponge candy!! Additionally, at this point the outer meat is very rich, oily and delicious.
We went for a stroll the other evening and snapped a couple shots coming up our drive way which is quiet nice. I am pretty sure all the Samoan's snicker when they see a man carrying a baby like this..... but I'm already used to being laughed at!
The Jaskowiak Family
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