Monday, June 8, 2009

BBQ and Beautiful Beaches

Yesterday, Sunday, we went to a barbeque at Oscar's house. Oscar is a Peruvian who has moved around a lot but settled in American Samoa for the past 15 years, and he is renting us our car for the summer. He has a beautiful house in Tapitimu, complete with a covered deck and an outdoor swimming pool. We lounged around, ate lots of grilled meat and salads, and went for a swim. It gave us a chance to meet a bit of the Palagi (non-Samoan) community and enjoy a beautiful, cool (high 70's) Sunday afternoon.

This morning, since we are still waiting on responses before we continue with our research work, we decided to explore a few new beaches we saw Google Earth on Larson's Bay. We parked our car at Turtle and Shark Lodge in Vaitogi, where we got to see a blowhole. Leaving our car at the lodge, we hiked along the trail leading around the bay. After about thirty minutes of walking through the woods and then through a high-grass field, the path led us deep into a banana plantation. As cool as the plantation was, the path eventually reached a dead end. We backtracked and found two different forks, but each direction ended in the midst of the banana trees. Finally, we found a promising trail that led toward the bay.

As we followed the trail deep through the trees, the sound of the ocean got louder and louder. The bright blue water finally appeared before us through a gap in the trees, and we all rushed out onto a rocky overlook. We were instantly overtaken by the beauty of the scene before us. A pristine sandy beach wound around a small inlet in the sea. Rocky cliffs rose high above the beach on either end, and dense green jungle spanned behind it. The cove in which the beach sat protected it from the rough seas, letting only small waves reach the shore. Coconuts were scattered accross the sand, which bore no indication that anyone else had been there in hours - if not days. As Kirstin aptly put it, "this is what people think of when they talk about paradise."

We spent over two hours on the secluded beach, relaxing and wading into the shallow water. We found crabs climbing on the rocks, hermit crabs crawling in the sand, bright blue fish swimming among the coral, and even a school of sea cucumbers sprawled out on the coral bed. Despite the midday sun, a cool breeze kept the temperature comfortable as we laid on the beach reading.

After leaving the picture-perfect beach, we found the continuation of the trail along Larsen's Bay. We hiked through the woods until we reached the second beach. This one was rockier and more open, giving a great view of the entire bay. We sat in the breeze atop a few giant boulders for a few minutes before starting our journey back around the bay to our car.

It was a wonderful way to spend the day, and I marvel that places of such seclusion exist. Maybe I'm just still getting used to this little island in the South Pacific, but maybe the scenery really just is that beautiful. I appologize that I accidentally forgot my camera at home today, so the pictures posted are Susanna's.

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