February 12, 2012
We have now ended our second five day stretch of sea days on the Pacific Ocean. During this time we were, in a sense, sailing through the four corners of the earth. In this case, the four corners are the four hemispheres, or divisions, of the globe. When we left San Diego on January 28th we were firmly in both the Northern Hemisphere and Western Hemisphere. Now, two weeks later, we traveled first, from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere (crossing the equator) and then from the Western to the Eastern Hemisphere (via the International Date Line).
Most of this change took place in the span of just three days. We crossed the equator and into the Southern Hemisphere in the early hours of Wednesday, February 8th. So for two days we were in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. Then on Friday night, February 10th, we crossed the International Date Line and moved into the Eastern Hemisphere. And the amazing thing was that this was all done by sea. When we crossed the International Date Line on Friday night we woke up the next day and it was Sunday, not Saturday morning. So as far as the passengers of this ship go, we lost the day of Saturday, February 11th.
Our last stop before the International Dateline was American Samoa. A series of six islands about the size of Washington D.C. it is the only American territory in the Southern Hemisphere. Ninety-five percent of the population lives on the main island of Tutuila, where the capital city of Pago Pago (pronounced ‘Pango Pango’) is located.
We docked there early in the morning. Our first stop was a school on the island. Tutuila is about 18 miles long and six miles wide. With only a few roads on the island, it took us about 30 minutes to cover just a few miles in a taxi. We were honored to have the opportunity to speak to Pacific Horizons School about our journey, answer questions from the students and learn more about them. For example, we learned some of the sports that they like to play include cricket and rugby.
Upon leaving the school we were presented with the opportunity to have a local take us hiking. Bob, who is originally from Seattle and working on the island, took us on two short hikes. The first was to a waterfall in the interior jungle. To get there we had to drive to a house and hike through their backyard (with permission) to the trail. The hike to the waterfall was not long but we needed to wade across a river three times each way. The water was up to our knees but refreshing to walk through in the high heat and humidity of the tropical island. Along the way we saw some beautiful flowers and toads along the trail. When we arrived at Nu’uuli Falls there was a cool pool to wade in. We were also able to see some fish and freshwater shrimp in the river and adjoining pool.
After we finished this hike we went to the southern coastline of the island to hike along an area called “Sliding Rocks” by the locals. The shoreline here is comprised of rugged volcanic rocks that come out of the jungle and right down to the ocean. The tide was low so we were able to hike quite a way along the coast. We observed some kids enjoying an afternoon swim in a 10-foot deep hole of seawater.
Back in Pago Pago we walked around the city and saw community buildings, called ‘Fales’ which are used for extended family gatherings and entertaining. We liked looking at the many colorful public buses that ran up and down the main street. Our day was over too soon and we enjoyed our visit to American Samoa and the four corners of the Pacific Ocean. We will continue to the South Pacific and the island of Fiji before arriving in New Zealand.