February 19, 2012 – Pago Pago, American Samoa
This is our first American port since leaving Ft. Lauderdale. The capital is Pago Pago, which is pronounced “Pango Pango” – I know not why!
The people of American Samoa are US Citizens through and through and very proud of it, but they are pure Polynesian, looking the same and speaking the same language as those on Easter Island and Tahiti. They are a large, strong people, which may explain the proliferation of Polynesians in the NFL, particularly from American Samoa. American football, at the high school level, is very popular in Samoa. Troy Polamalu, of the Steelers has achieved near hero status here, although born in California and several people told us he visits here occasionally.
Due to the arrival of many missionaries in the 1800s, who were obviously successful, this is a fervently religious community, with many Methodist, Congregationalist (Dutch Reform) and other churches. Since we arrived on Sunday, church was in top gear, with all of the churches filled with white linen clad singing Samoans – they were quite welcoming to those passengers wishing to join them.
The busses here are quite unusual. They are made of locally constructed wooden bodies built on truck frames and are brightly painted and decorated, inside and out – often with religious themes.
A decreased Navy presence here, and limited tourism, Tuna fishing and processing is the economic mainstay of Pago Pago.