Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paka o Amerika Samoa

I woke up early today to return Oscar's car and pick up ours. Apparently, he successfully jumped the car last night right after we left for Tisa's, so a new battery did the trick.

Today, we took our revived vehicle back accross the island to National Park of American Samoa (Paka o Amerika Samoa) on the island's northern shore. To get there, we had to drive into town and then up over the mountain pass. We stopped at the top to take some great scenic shots of Pago Pago harbor with Mata Fau in the background (see photo to the right).

We descended the steep, windy road and passed through the village of Afono before entering official National Park territory. Having driven the route last week to check out the area, we knew to park at the scenic overlook, where a hiking trail led down to the shore below. We took in the beautiful view of "Cock's Comb," before heading down the trail into the forest.

The steep trail led us to the rocky water's edge, where we proceeded to carefully climb accross the rocks to a tall peak overlooking the sea. We sat in the baking sun, cooled by the ocean breeze and taking in the beauty around us. The surf is significantly smaller on the northern side of Tutuila due to the prevailing winds from the south, but the whitecaps still powerfully crept up the rocks below us.

After some photos, we climbed off our rocky perch and heaved our way back up the steep trail to our car. After a few minutes to catch our breaths, we continued driving thorugh the village of Vatia toward Cock's Comb. At the end of the reoad, we parked and embarked on a short hike (it was really more of a walk, much to our disappointment) to the stony beach below Cock's Comb. We didn't stay long, but we did observe schools of fish literally hopping over the rocks to escape from tidal pools into the outer ocean - an amazing feat of evolution.

We were all exhausted as we began the hour-long treck home. Susanna and Kirstin cooked up some delicious Indian-style eggplant and chicken for dinner, and just now we picked up Katy, a medical student, at the airport. She'll be living with us and doing doing research on gestational diabetes at LBJ Hospital for the summer (or winter). I took a lot of pictures today, both in the National Park and on pictures from the car, so check them out if you have a chance.

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