Samoa and American Samoa are part of the same island chain, with similar language, history and cultural traditions, but one is an American Territory, and independent Samoa is more closely connected to Australia and New Zealand. This makes them worlds apart, though they’re only a short ferry ride or plane ride away, with different cars driving on different sides of the road and noticeably less tourism in American Samoa. Even the International Date Line separates the Samoas, and the 1 day and 1 hour time difference is pretty confusing (especially when you’ve only travelled for 35 mins), but works great if you want to skip a day (like a dead quiet Sunday) or have a day twice (like New Years Eve).
I actually did both, though my new years eve in American Samoa was much quieter than the one in Auckland. There were no fireworks, no music… not even a countdown or a crowd. It was like they were purposely ignoring this perfect time to celebrate, and instead every church in American Samoa was filled with people for their night services. But, they ended before midnight and people disappeared quietly back to their homes, and it seemed as if no one cared the year was ending and a new one just beginning. I ended up sitting on the balcony of my beach bungalow drinking half a glass of red wine alone, watching the time on my phone turn to 00:00 while a cloudy moon gently reflected off the oceans’ waves to add a little sparkle to the moment.
I stayed at Tisa’s barefoot bar, and didn’t leave much in the 4 days I had there. The first 3 days were all holidays, and then it was a Saturday, so not much was open or happening… except a lot of church services and rainfall. I spent nearly half a day at the Pago Pago airport because the flight I was on had “too many big people” on it, so the luggage was too much excessive weight and they flew my bag over 3 hours later The taxi driver who took me to Tisa’s only wanted to talk about inappropriate, promiscuous subjects (like the naked Chinese girls who like to dance on boats and the Fijian customer he had sex with at the airport), and when I was just about ready to jump out of the truck, we finally got to Tisa’s and the owner himself was at my door before I even opened it. They only drive at 10-20 miles an hour (I’ve never seen people drive slower! The roads that weren’t even that bad), so I could have just dropped and rolled out the door, but I had all my luggage with me and it was dark, and he did just flat out ask me if I wanted sex and accepted my “no” without any persistence.
Besides that, most of my American Samoa visit was safe and peaceful. I lived in a wooden bungalow on a private beach, had breakfast cooked every morning for my by a man called Candyman, and drank a glass of wine with Tisa or the other guest each evening. Carolina was also staying there, an American who wanted to hike the national park trails on the island, but unfortunately she wasn’t much for new years parties.