Pago Pago, American Samoa

Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango), a loose collection of villages is the capital and port for American Samoa.  American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States and has been a dependency of the United States since 1899.  It has a Lieutenant Governor and an elected legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate (photo).  It sends a non-voting representative to the Congress in Washington.  The American Navy used Samoa as a coaling and repair station until 1951.  I was here in 2007 and took a cultural tour to a village.  In 2009, the area was devastated by a tsunami and since then has been in receipt of development assistance.  Currently, a tuna cannery (Starkist) and tourism form the major industries. As the tourist brochure says, “There are no five star hotels here or fancy retail outlets or even mass tourism but you will discover a holiday destination with affordable accommodation and services, a great selection of retail stores, an eco tourism paradise and the friendliest people in the Pacific.“ I’m not sure about the retail stores but I agree with the rest.  On arrival, the Tourist Bureau advertised a free tour around the harbour on Fautasi longboats which are used for racing (photo).  They were trying to determine if tours on these boats would be a viable tourist offering and in payment we responded to a questionnaire asking for comments on the experience.  My friend and I took the ride and it was terrific. We were able to see all around the harbour and enjoyed the singing and pleasant commentary of the rowers (photos).  The Tourist rep then told us that the  bus from the village from which the rowers came, would take us to the village and back for  the return local bus fare of $10.00. This turned out to be an interesting route to take because it took us through the National Park and over to the other side of the island to the village of Vatia which is one of several villages within the National Park.  The Park has a lease arrangement with the villagers and they assist in various activities in the park.  The driver stopped a few times to give us photo opportunities (photos) and then gave us twenty minutes to look around the village before our return.  Our sail away took us past some scenic spots including the so-called Flowerpot rocks (photo). There is quite a lot to see and do here if you take in all of the cultural and eco tourism opportunities.  There is also sport fishing, diving and swimming.  It is an interesting and relaxing destination.  Our next port is Bora Bora in French Polynesia.

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