Saturday morning hit up the 6am Zumba class, and Erica picked me up on her way by in the morning. I grabbed a bus straight to town after that to meet up with Hannah for a little breakfast. We were going to go to Matai, per my request, for the cheaper selection and not so chilly temperature, but they opened later than usual. Ended up back at DDW, but I enjoyed my pancakes and coffee there. Matai, I will come back to you one of these days! Then, I met up with some of the other volunteers for a little adventure I had decided to join. We were getting a ride to the easternmost point on the island, Cape Matatula, for a tour of the climate observatory.
The lady who currently is working out there for NOAA, Christina, is only stationed there for the year. The site is part of a carbon dioxide monitoring program with only three other locations, including Alaska, the South Pole, and Hawaii. Christina spent months in Antarctica working there and some time in Alaska. Now, she is here at the remote site in American Samoa. Her first job is actually working for NASA as an engineer, designing probes for the space stations and satellites. How crazy is that? She is super fun, crazy, and energetic. It was really cool getting to meet her and speak with her.
Here is a view from the top of the climate observatory looking out toward the point of the cape. Stunning. Too bad this place isn't closer, and I would go sit there more often for many reasons. It's about an hour and half drive away, though.
This is the observatory and main lab building, where Christina works all by herself (minus her Samoan grounds keeper). Too much lab work and instrument monitoring for me, but it was still cool to hear her talk about the stuff.
Then, she took us down to the point. The carbon dioxide monitor is literally at the Easternmost point of the island, right by the ocean. Too much contamination if the wind is blowing the wrong way otherwise for the readings. They want pure ocean air, not that coming from the villages. This is actually some of the cleanest air on Earth here because of the easterlie winds. We actually got to take a little souvenir - a glass vial with the cleanest air on Earth. Nerdy cool. haha It's now sitting in my room and shall come back to the States with me.
This view is looking toward the north of the island from the cape. You can see Pola island in Vatia bay off in the distance. We saw some sea turtles as we were looking out this way. I've seen the tops of sea turtle shells out in the ocean before (when I was in the Galapagos), but never seen their whole bodies swimming out there before. That was cool. Christina also said she watches humpback whales out here some times and sharks. Totally a cool spot!
That is Christina with the big tattoo on her back pointing out the sea turtles to us.
Another reason I enjoyed this spot - the boobies! A whole flock of brown-footed boobies were flying around. I may have even seen a few red-footed ones. So cool! I could have watched them all day. Boobies are birds. Remember, the only other place I have seen them is on the Galapagos. They're bright feet are simply amazing. Plus, they bring back some great memories of my trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
One more scenic photo I took from the cape for your viewing pleasure. You can see the small island of Anu'u to the left in this photo. Such a great spot again. I am very thankful for getting to check this out and learn some things from Christina. Great late morning adventure.
Christina gave us a ride back down to Tula to chill at the bus stop. Started raining... a lot... and we were practically already soaked in the whole 3 minutes we were in the back of her truck. Waiting at the bus stop as more rain came down, and then a lady with a truck offered us a ride, but we'd have to ride in the back. No worries. All the way back to town in the back of this truck, raining most of the way. haha That was sure a fun ride. Getting wet in Samoa doesn't bother anything. Just another day in the life. Ended up getting another ride all the way to my house from there, and it ended up raining a bit again as we got closer. Man, one of my rainiest rides home in a while. haha. We all laughed at various points on the way home - quite the experience. One of those "only in Samoa" moments. :) Boy, am I going to miss riding in the back of trucks in downpour rain... hahaha... maybe not.
Made it home, showered the ran out of my hair, and then curled up under my sheet for a while and just looking at my mountain out the window. Mmmm. Then, it was time to get ready for the pageant. Here I am all ready to go! I picked up this dress for $13 at one of the stores here.
Grabbed a bus to town, got there a little earlier than expected, and sat at a picnic table for a while. Witnessed this nice rainbow that spanned the entire harbor.
On to the Miss SOFIAS pageant we went. SOFIAS = Society of Fa'afafines in American Samoa. What is a fa'afafine you ask? I wrote about them a long time ago during orientation I believe. Fa'afafine literally means "way of the woman". It refers to people that were physically born but want to be/are women. I wasn't going to an ordinary pageant. I was going to a "drag queen" pageant. That's the simplest definition It's an interesting cultural case here, we can discuss more in detail when I'm back if you're interested.
Here is Hannah in I in our fun outfits for the night.The tickets cost $20, but it was definitely an experience worth having here. They put a whole lot more glamour into the Miss SOFIAS pageant than the Miss American Samoa.
Ended up meeting up with Aunty Tai and Lolo outside. I knew they were coming, and right away Tai said she would give us a ride home once it was over. This is a photo of me with Lolo. She will be graduating from 8th grade this year.
Now, we were told this would last maybe about 3 hours. So much for 3.... try 5. It was after midnight before we headed for home. Gee wiz. I was rather tired come the end, but still very much enjoyed myself. Hard not to at an entertaining evening like this. Glamour like I've never seen it before, I tell you what. I've been to a few drag shows before, but this pageant took it to a new level. I have posted a selection of photos for your enjoyment with a few comments. The pageant included 7 contestants, a Lady Sofias category (the contestants portrayed what they thought Miss SOFIAS stood for - from princesses to goddesses to warriors), talent, patriotic swimwear, evening gown, and interview question. Quite the night full of various humor throughout but some good poise as well. I was impressed, thoroughly entertained, and enjoyed myself.
Chevon here was the master of ceremonies. Chevon won Miss SOFIAS in 1985 and currently teaches at the community college.
Here was the reigning Miss's opening number. The outfit speaks for itself.
This is Miss American Samoa - she came on stage for a traditional siva Samoa. She is rather pretty -Ariel. I've seen her at many other events, as well.
One lady SOFIAS interpretation - a goddess. Look at all that costuming! Nuts!
One as a warrior in some more traditional wear and a little weapon handling.
The sun goddess. Oye.
Wonder of the World - a rather creative costume. This is who ended up winning the whole shabang - roberta.
Patriotic swimwear time.
This is Trina, the social studies department head at my high school, and she was Miss SOFIAS in 2011. I knew she was involved with the society but did not realize until she was part of the winner's circle that she had once reigned as Miss SOFIAS.
One of my favorite evening gowns for the night.
Miss SOFIAS 2012 during her farewell speech.
What a night. Fun experience, and not something I do every day of course. Fa'afafine culture is a part of Samoan culture.
Woke up for church Sunday morning. First service with the southerners at Tafuna Baptist. Larry told me the lady that picked me up on Flag Day, Ruth, teaches at their school. Said she couldn't remember my name, but he put two and two together when he read my blog."Must have been Jessica". Sure was. Cool. Mandy also told me she was talking with Nora, a Filipon lady, that works at the movie store near their campus. Figured out she goes to Vai O Le Ola, the independent church I attend. Brandon dropped me off at Vai O Le Ola afterward. Made it home and relaxed for the afternoon. I've picked up a bit of a head cold this week (a few days before my little ride in the rain- that really had nothing to do with it, I promise). NyQuil in system and I am off to bed. Getting rid of this nonsense ASAP. I only have about 6 weeks left and haven't really had a cold since before Christmas. Lucky just a head cold. I still get my workouts in with that. By the way, Insanity Round 2 month 1 is complete.
I had a good weekend, as you can see. Hope you all did something fun or relaxing, as well. Here's to another good week, everyone! Enjoy :-)