Holland America Lines Cruise - Auckland to Vancouver - 2017

April 15-16 - Sea Day and Pago Pago

April 15 - Sea Day

Yes, we had another April 15. We crossed the International Date Line during the night and gained the day that we lost flying to Auckland. We managed to idle away the day. We had another gala dinner tonight where, wearing my blazer, I ate lobster again. The night's entertainment was Annie Frances, a vocalist from Sydney with a powerful voice.

April 16 - Pago Pago, American Samoa

We docked in Pago Pago during breakfast. We and our shipmates booked HAL's excursion called "A Taste of Samoan Village Life". Disembarking in time to meet out 10:30 start time, the six of us were directed to a long line of aiga busses. These colorful busses offered us a local transportation tradition with their bench seats and open window cooling. We chose a bus toward the end of the line which had enough seats for all of us. After driving out of the port and alongside the harbor, we made our first stop at the Flower Pot Rocks which are vertical rock formations rising out of the clear water. They are very popular with the tour busses. Elbowing my way past other aiga passengers, I was able to take some photos before we were summoned back to our bus.

Continuing on, we left the bay and turned inland to find the village that we were going to get a taste of. Instead, our aiga blew a tire directly under our bench. We felt it. After pulling to the side of the road, we all got off of the bus and lingered around in the hot, humid weather until a replacement arrived. That did not work out well because when it stopped, gasoline poured out of its tank onto the road. We spent more time waiting and wandering around the industrial park area until a third bus showed up. By this time we were wondering if we were ever going to get to the village. Apparently not yet because we had to make a required stop at the Lava Lava Gold Course. Ostensibly to look at the view of the mountains and the ocean, this stop was for the golf course to sell us some snacks and some local beer. We did that because we were starting to get hungry.

Our main stop was at Vila's Village. Advertised as a typical Samoan village, it turned out to be a large back yard of a couple of acres surrounded by lush gardens and trees. We lined up with 100 or more tourists to pass by open-air huts where we were given tiny bite-sized samples of local food. This was definitely not lunch. There were a couple of other huts for demos of basket weaving and other crafts. Part of the yard was set up with rows of chairs where some of us could sit and watch some men in native clothing peel and prepare a coconut. Finally a cute ten-year-old girl decked out in a princess costume performed a dance for us.

Driving back to the ship I couldn't help but notice of the disrespect the habitat. There was trash along the roadside as well as in the streams that we passed. Old rusted abandoned vehicles covered with vines sat in fields. Vacant decaying houses and mini strip malls were everywhere. This was not my favorite excursion.

Back on the ship, we went to the Lido Deck and had a snack to tide us over until dinner.

The entertainment tonight was called "Frozen Planet Live". It was a beautiful big-screen documentary produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. Focussing on life and the environment in both the Arctic and Antarctic, the showing was accompanied by live music by the ship's band and the violin/piano duo form the Adagio. This was one of our favorite shows.

© 2016 Robert N Lynn

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