March 8, 10 a.m.
We lost the sun. It has rained almost continuously for two days and we are starting on the third. The good news is that the temperature has dropped and right now it is 79 degrees……the bad news is that it hasn’t helped the humidity. Everything is wet. Everything feels damp; the pillows, sheets, and towels. I have some clothes that I have been trying to dry out for three days. Most of the time there is just a light drizzle and then the rain begins to pick up intensity and for a short period of about ten to fifteen minutes it rains so hard you can’t hold a conversation with out shouting.
From the front of Figoa’s fale we can see Mt. Elietoga. The summit is 3350 feet. Two days ago Tieli and I tried to reach the summit by hiking up an old logging road. I tried this when I was here in 1998 and I think I made it about half way. It was my goal to make it to the top on this trip. The logging roads have deteriorated considerably since 1998 and once you get pass the lower plantations the road becomes a foot path covered with knee high grasses and plants. As you go up the plant life changes much like I saw on Mt. Matavanu. You go from plantations consisting mostly of bananas, taro, and ta’amu to grass pastures where we found a few cows grazing. As we got higher we entered the rain forest and everything got bigger. There were ferns as tall as houses and banyan trees six or seven stories high. There was another variety of tree that was even higher than the banyans. These looked to be dead and had only a few branches near the crown of the tree. If you looked hard you could see leaves and ferns growing at the end of the branches.
It started raining about an hour after we started and the higher we climbed the heavier it got. The path became a stream and the water was up over our ankles. After about three hours we gave up. I figure we may have gotten about three-quarters up the mountain. I wish I had taken my GPS receiver so I would have known exactly how high we were. By the time be got back to the fale I looked and felt like I had been swimming in my clothes. The palms of my hands were wrinkled and white from the all the water.
I managed to scratch my legs pretty badly and I am fighting some skin infections. We are planning on going to Apia on Monday and I should be able to get some antibiotic cream there. Until then about all I can do is soak them in hot water and try to keep the ulcers clean.
The rain stopped a little while ago and we are going shopping. As you can imagine feeding 28 people is a full time job and much of the day is spent acquiring food and then preparing it. The only thing that approaches a commercial area is at the other end of the island and is a two hour trip so our shopping today is limited to some of the more local bush stores. You end up going to three or four stores to get half of what you set out to get. These are very small Mom and Pop operations and make the Unimarts seem like supermarkets. I’ll have to remember to take a picture of one of these because they are hard to describe.
I dropped Tai and some of the other women off at a Bingo game and Gardenia and I went sight seeing. We traveled to the Western end of the island that is reported to have some of the most beautiful sunsets in Samoa. Samoa is the most western land mass in the South Pacific and the international dateline is not far away. We also visited a site that is reputed to contain the footprint of Moso. In Samoan legend Moso is the creator of the earth. The islands were formed as stepping stones so he could walk across the oceans. In the legend Samoa is the center of the universe. The Samoa creation legend is not terribly dissimilar from what is found in the Old Testament only names and places are different. The footprint is an indentation in some lava and with some imagination you can picture a large footprint. On the way back to pick up the women I bought a pile of coconuts from a young boy selling them along the road. I filled about one third of truck for $15 Tala or about $5 US. All I had to pay him was a $20 Tala bill and we had to drive him to three bush stores to find one that had enough change.
That’s about it for the day.