Last week was “Coastal Week” in American Samoa, which was aimed to raise awareness and educate people about the importance of protecting our oceans and coral reefs. At the end of the week, there were celebrations at Utelei beach complete with Fautasi boat races at the end.
I have a great friend who agreed to watch Mary and Emma after their naps and so I set off with the older four, not really knowing what to expect.
We had the most WONDERFUL time. The kids got to try paddling which they absolutely loved. We got to go around lots of educational booths (as well as some really random unrelated ones about STD’s) and got lots of brochures and flyers that we plan on using for home school projects. Some of the booths gave out free candy and drinks, and they even got bags too. It was just like Halloween.
We went back to the beach for some swimming lessons, but the water was really rough so it was difficult.
Our last activity was to try paddle boarding. I have always wanted to try this, and have seen it on several vacations, but it’s always expensive and you usually need a lesson first. I was able to try it for free, so the lady explained how I needed to get my balance in the center of the board lying on my tummy (that didn’t work too well!), when to get up and kneel, and when to try standing. She explained what to do if I lost my balance and how to fall off safely.
I was ready to try! Balancing on my knees was ok, but I soon realized I was using a lot of muscles I hadn’t used before, and it was harder than it looked. My instructor told me that it took her almost a year to get up on her feet, and so I didn’t have to try standing, I could just kneel if I was more comfortable. Whatever! I was going to try it, I was excited. She kept paddling out farther and farther into the ocean and I was starting to get nervous, what did I get myself into? I asked her if we could turn abound and go back, but she said we had to get out past where the big waves were! Aghh!
It was finally time to turn our boards around and decide whether to stand up on the way back. I went for it and got up. It was pretty scary, and although I was supposed to be looking straight ahead at the shore, I found it difficult to not look down at my feet! The best part was when my instructor wiped out and I stayed on my feet! Maybe she did it on purpose to make me feel good, and if she did, it worked! Oh yeah! (check out the photo). I was paddle boarding, unbalanced belly and all! It was only when I was 20 ft from shore that I realized I hadn’t been told, and hadn’t thought to ask, how to stop when you reach the beach! A friend was on the beach watching me and she yelled, “jump, jump”, and so I did! That was the scariest part. It was so much fun though and I’m so glad I tried it.
The kids tried standing up on the paddle board by the beach, but obviously couldn’t go out.
Oh, and get this…the kids were in the paper AGAIN! I guess our white palagi faces are becoming the new faces of American Samoa.
After this, it was off just in time to watch the Fautasi race. A Fautasi is a recreational longboat built for racing. Traditionally, villages compete during important annual ceremonies and are usually a once a year thing. The entire race lasts less than 30 minutes, but it is a GREAT DEAL in Samoa.
What a great field trip.