Monday, June 1, 2009

Research and Western Tutuila

Yesterday was a very productive day for our research, as we got a lot of the preparatory work going that is necessary before we actually meet any of the children.  We even did some shopping for supplies to keep us organized.

In the late afternoon, "Tour Guide Steve" (Professor McGarvey) took us out on an adventure to the western part of the island, including the villages of Leone, Vailoa, and Vaitogi.  This area was stunningly beautiful, though very different from the Eastern rural district.  Vailoa (picture shown) had an open field in the village center surrounded by many fale (open huts).

The coastline was also very different and pretty (especially in the late-afternoon lighting).  The beaches were mixed with black, volcanic stone weathered into wonderful shapes by the powerful surf.  We walked around at Sliding Rock, a beautiful beach area with awesome lava-rock formations and mesmerizing waves.

After relaxing at Sliding Rock for a while, we hopped back in the car and headed to Vaitoga, another village on the southwest side of the island.  Here, the black rock beaches formed cliffs above the water.  The surf, in all its power and glory, slammed into the cliffs and sent water shooting into the air.  The irregularity of these water sprays led us to stand stupidly with our cameras waiting to catch a picture at just the right moment.  You can see one of these on the left.  The afternoon just confirmed Tutuila's natural geologic beauty.

We returened home as the sun set.  After dinner, we returned to the airport to pick up Kirstin, the third member of our research team.  With the work week starting up again, we are about to head out to a second meeting to further our work.

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