A week after I turned 16, my family moved to American Samoa. My dad was working with Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) National Screening Force (NSF) at the time. The NSF is a group of people that travel around to fill in for airports who are low on staff. Unfortunately, while he was in Am. Samoa, he got promoted to a permanent position and the rest of us followed.
Having moved from Utah and being involved in extreme sports, snow boarding, skate boarding and camping, I was excited for the island. I wanted to surf, swim in the ocean, hike the forests, scale cocoa nut trees and sample exotic fruits. I wanted everything that depicted the island life.
Skate boarding and Long boarding were among the first to make the ex-list. Even if you could acclimate to the constant annual heat index and the 200% humidity, there were no smooth surfaces. Pebbles, rocks and potholes everywhere. Word on the street is government corruption.
Surfing was next to go. It turns out that the whole island is just one big square rock. Not a single surfing shore on the island, not for a novice anyways. The water is shallow all the way around the island for about thirty or forty feet out, then it drops strait to the bottom of the ocean. This makes for a subduction zone where the waves pull you out. Oh, and sharks.
That’s if you would want to get in the water anyways. Even if there was one beach, let’s even call it “the perfect beach” on the island, you still wouldn’t want to get in the water. There is a Starkist industry on the island (which I’ll get into in a second). The waste management for the company is pretty relaxed because they dump all their organic pollutants back into the ocean. I remember two of my siblings getting staff infection swimming at a local beach. It turns out that some ridiculous number of like 15% of the people on island actually know how to swim. It makes no sense! Every body should know how to swim, but it turns out only the people who like sharks and skin disease.
The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago (pah’ngo pah’ngo) and if you drive through pago pago you will end up driving past the Starkist factory. There is about a two mile stretch that literally smells like the roads are paved with rotting fish guts. There are special Starkist buses that drive the poor employees home periodically, you can smell them coming. I wish I was exaggerating.
I won’t go on about the simple minded people, the hideous looking women, and the thousands of transvestites (Faafafine).