Mt. Alava, Fagatele Bay, and other news

Hello everyone,

This past week has been pretty awesome.  Last Saturday we hiked Mt. Alava.  It started with a bus ride into town to catch a another bus over the mountain.  At that point Cat and I hadn’t had lunch, and we weren’t able to find anything good at any stores, so we opted for a little taste of back home, McDonalds, more specifically, triple cheeseburgers.  Cat and I both got one and headed to the bus station.  We soon learned that there is only one bus running to Vatia (the town where the trail starts on the other side of the island) and it “may” arrive in an hour, if it comes at all.  So we took the Au’a bus which gets us to the bottom of the mountain, but still on the wrong side, the side we are already on.  But hey, it puts us that much closer.

Once the bus dropped us off we put on our walking shoes and headed up the hill.  “Hill” is a loose term.  The grade of this particular road is extremely intense and anything under a 6 cylindar has no business even trying.  You may have read an earlier post from me where our bus overheated, yea this is the same hill.  We must have walked 3/4 a mile at a Mt. Everest grade before a truck finally came along to offer us some relief.  A really nice couple picked all 9 of us up in their truckbed and hauled us over the mountain. (BTW hitchhiking it totally acceptable here, and you don’t even have to stick out your thumb.  If you are walking somewhere, someone will probably stop to offer you a ride.)

Here we are in the back of the truck with some fellow volunteers.

Thats the Pacific ocean looking north in the background.

The couple was nice enough to take us past their village into the next village where the trail to Mt. Alava starts, Vatia.

 Here we are at the trailhead to Mt. Alava.

Much like the road we walked on earlier, this trail just goes up.  Up, then up, then up some more.  It didn’t take but about 30 minutes before Cat and I both realized that the McDonalds triple cheeseburger lunch option was a mistake.  We were exhausted, but we kept pushing forward.

At about the time we burned through the burger pains the trail started to get really interesting.  It is so steep in spots that it has ladders and ropes that you have to climb to get up.

 Here is Cat heading up.

And then me heading down.  (There were a few breaks from the up, so that you could go down and be able to go back up again)

Once we finally got to the top it was all worth it.  Here is looking North.  It is hard to tell where the ocean stops and the sky starts.

And here is looking south.  You can see the Pago Pago harbor and both sides of the island.

BTW you really need to click on these pictures to do them justice.  That is the Matafao peak in the background, the highest peak on Tutuila.

We hiked back down on the other side into the harbor.  On the way back I found a coconut and opened it on a guardrail by the side of the road.  When we got back to campus I popped a straw in it, and had my first ever coconut.  It wasn’t as sweet as I had expected.  I then proceeded to have an upset stomach for the next 24 hours.  I’m not swearing off coconuts all together, but maybe the ones on the side of the road.  From now I will leave them alone.

Later in the week they took us to Fagatele bay.   This is a protected sanctuary and this hike was all down hill.  I was still feeling a bit under the coconut at the time so I didnt take many pictures, but this is what it looks like, beautiful in every way.

Alot of us went snorkeling here.  I totally got my butt kicked by the coral and waves.  It was a reality check.  Sometime pretty things can kill you.  Granted there were 10 ft swells and I didnt even make it out past the breaker like some of the others.   I am going to have to take on some calmer waters to get used things. 

This week we have been giving our first lessons in front of actual Samoan students.  It has been pretty fun. 

Tonight is our last night living on a mat in a classroom:)  Tomorrow we are all going out for breakfast, and then those that are assigned on Tutuila (the main island) are going to their new homes.  Us Manu’a folk (people going to the outer islands) are staying with them until we can get our flight out; it will probably be next weekend.  We go on the plane and our bags go on the boat.  I am really excited to get out there and start teaching.  We met our principal and I got confirmation of what I am teaching this year: Physical Science, Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  That’s right, I am teaching 5 different sciences.  I am the only science teacher at the high school.  You can call me the deptarment head if you like.  It will be a challenge but I am looking forward to it. 

I really like it here so far.  The people are very nice.  The past two times we have walked down to do our laundry a really nice Samoan guy who lives above the store has brought us drinks and sandwiches while we wait.   Anytime we see someone they normally smile and wave.   Samoans are very welcoming people.  I am thankful to be here.

I don’t know what my internet access will be like after tomorrow so I may not post for a bit, but stay tuned.  I will keep you all informed as things progress.



About Wes

I love God, my wife and ultimate frisbee. View all posts by Wes

4 responses to “Mt. Alava, Fagatele Bay, and other news

  • jaredpogue

    “On the way back I found a coconut and opened it on a guardrail by the side of the road.” Quite possibly the manliest (or one of the most manly) thing I’ve ever heard Wes Queen say.

    Also, coconuts are natures laxatives. I prefer the “meat” of the coconut over the milk because it has more taste I think. Plus it doesn’t make you “clean house” for about 24 hours.

    Katie and I can’t wait to come see you guys HOPEFULLY this winter. Also, department head will look good on your resume. You should keep that title.

  • Sharon S

    Hey Wes,

    A picture is truly worth a thousand words. I think you could write a book just on the photo’s!!and I know you are an artist as well- is just has to be incredible and “well worth it”? oh yeah!!

  • Donovan DeArment

    Hey there Wes,

    I’m enjoying your posts and am now following and have bookmarked your blog. The photos remind me a lot of when I visited Hawaii. I’m envious of all the adventuring going on that I can’t be a part of, but I have to take care of the kids until they are old enough to go too. Our daughter should be arriving in a few weeks now. We’re very excited.

    I’m also following Damien’s blog now that he is in Japan.

    I’ve been doing some research and wanted to ask you what you thought about section hiking part of the AT when you return. I’ve been wanting to plan a southbound (flip-flopped) trip beginning in Maine when you return. I have a crazy idea of hammock camping to reduce weight and give us more terrain camping options. I spoke with Kevin and Scott and they seem interested in going. I figure we could take a week up there and hike perhaps 60 miles. We could make it an annual thing or whenever we all get time. Let me know what your opinion is, just post a message to my page in Facebook. I may start a page for the event for discussion and planning updates. I’ll send you a link when I do.

    P.S. I’m really sorry I didn’t make it to your going away party, this semester has been really tough for me, but know that it was worth it since I made a 95 on my term paper.


    • Cat Q.

      I am so excited about your little girl! Please email us some pictures when she gets here! I love the idea of doing an annual hike of the AT! Keep us posted!! Miss you all, Cat

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