WOW! What a Monday and start to my week here in Pago Pago, American Samoa. Hard to believe that it has been a week since fateful tsunami Tuesday.
It was slow start as I awoke early only to find that our Wi-Fi was still out, having strangely disappeared last night. Ever the optimist I leashed up the very happy to be going for a walk Ruby and headed over to the McDonalds ashore which had just opened on the weekend because they used to (B4 tsunami) have a great set of Wi-Fi signals, both their own network plus a super strong BlueSky signal which is the other network I bought time on when I first arrived. I ordered an espresso, opened up the trusty laptop and Voila! we have a net connection! It was on and working better than ever and since the tsunami they've made it open and free for all. So I got all my mail from last night out, picked up some new ones, checked on flight options and then headed into town to see if I could book my flights for the upcoming trip to the USA, call NZ for a conversation with the authorities there about importing Ruby, see what was up with the state telco Wi-Fi we use in the marina and pick up some supplies.
Ended up taking me 4 hours on the phone to look after all my flight reservations, but they are now done and I'm all set, along with Ruby, to fly back to MCO on Nov.3rd. Next, over to the state telco office, have them check and yes their Wi-Fi is down and they have someone working on it. No ETA for the repair but ASAP. Back to the phones for more calls, pick up some food supplies and finally, about 2pm walked back to the marina.
As I approach LTY what to my wondering eyes should appear? A big stack of boxes which to my eyes brought a tear!
I figured that Murphy's Law or some postulate would apply and there would be some packages still missing, but low and behold ALL remaining boxes were there! From Saint Paul of West Marine there were 5 boxes: 3 solar panels, a bicycle and a box with windex, port LED light, and hand held depth sounder. And from Santa John were two boxes with stove burners, winch parts, wind cups, grinder and some extra special cards from "our" shared kids. And to top it all off there was the box that I came here for in the first place, all my transmission rebuild parts!!
With that, the decision was instantly made to leave in the morning and so I dashed off with my new passenger Chris from the likely to be written off Biscayne Bay boat to start the check out procedure, see about getting fuel, and head over the other side of the island where there is a CostULess to do all our provisioning for the month's crossing to NZ. After many kilometers of walking back and forth between the offices we had our passports stamped and 80% of our check out procedure complete. We need to go back at 7am tomorrow to finish the rest as the computer that prints our exit visa was down. A few more walking marathons to find out we can’t get fuel till Wednesday as the HUGE tanker bringing fuel to the island will be taking up the whole fuel dock till Thursday and the deliver trucks have not been approved by the USCG yet to deliver fuel after the tsunami. We’ll leave without topping up as I have plenty of fuel for the rest of the way to NZ if need be and can probably get some in Niue or Tonga. We then got to rest our pooped puppies by taking one of the ever present bus/trucks that will take you anywhere on the island for a dollar out to the CostULess warehouse grocery store on the other side of the island where we could by all our provisions for the upcoming trip to NZ. We drove by the massive Red Cross emergency aid supply station with hundreds upon hundreds of large plastic red and white coolers stacked up under tents and I assume filled with blood and other emergency supplies. All the fields and buildings around the airport were equally covered with pallet after pallet of plastic wrapped boxes of more supplies.
CostULess was a phenomenal find with selection and prices to match Costco and the like in North America and Chris and I filled two large shopping carts to the brim with all the food we’ll need for the next month. We somehow managed to get this all into the small jeep taxi we hired and made it back to the boat just after dark. With some help from our friends we did the human bucket brigade to move all the supplies below and I started to stow it all away into the nooks and crannies of fortunately voluminous Learnativity. Lisa and Gary from Biscayne Bay had invited us out for a farewell diner at one of the local restaurants/hotels that was now open, “Sadie's by the Sea” and we enjoyed a wonderful meal by the lapping sea shore as we reflected upon the incredible experiences we have just shared and just how fortunate we really are to be at this table together, alive and well, ready for what life has to offer us next and so much richer for our new learnings and friendships..
Now I am back on Learnativity late tonight, the Wi-Fi is back up working, I’ve got most of the packages unpacked and stored and I'm a little shell shocked from the wonderful turn of events and having everything fall so suddenly into place.
Words can not express my thanks and appreciation I owe to the phenomenal effort of my state side shore support, John and Paul, for all their efforts to make this all happen. It is second only to the other tireless workers here in AS who are still pulling 15-18 hour shifts trying to get all the supplies moving into and out of this island and onto others nearby. Thanks guys! Let's start planning where and when we are going to meet up for lunch or diner when I get back to Florida in November so I can thank you in person, swap our respective stories and toast the wonders of living while you are alive.
Learnativity will set sail southwards in the morning. I have not had time to work out the routing just yet, but tentatively plan to head first for the small island nation of Niue to experience some of the clearest water visibility in the world and dive some of its underwater caves and grottos. Then likely Westward to the southernmost part of the Tonga chain; Tongatapa/Nuku'alofa where we’ll prep for the jump south to Whangarei on the North island of New Zealand.
I’ll be doing my best to post updates here along the way and keep you all informed as we go. Approximate ETA in Whangarei is end of October.
Right now though, I’ve got more stuff to stow and some sleep to bank in prep for the upcoming voyages.