field note excerpt

Field Journal – Meeting the Ship in American Samoa

Field Production for Marine National Monuments Outreach Film

Travel Day

04.28.12 – Saturday. American Samoa.

Long travel day on Thursday, 6 hr flight to Honolulu, then another 6 hours to Pago Pago. It was nearly midnight by the time we had cleared customs and driven through the dark streets of Tutuila to the Pago harbor area where we checked into a room at Sadie’s by the Sea. The balcony looked out over a warm, humid saltwater bay with water lapping at the small beach beyond a rock wall. The room itself was pretty basic, but the view was sweet.

Was ravenous the next morning and devoured a plate of fresh-caught fish loco moco (eggs on top of fish on top of a big mound of brown rice, with a rich red sauce), and then scarfed down an ono burger with crispy fried onions, and fresh pineapple juice for lunch. Molly drove us in the rattletrap rented van up that steep road over the mountain so I could film the harbor.


The van chugged along at 10mph the whole way up, and the brake didn’t want to hold once we parked, but we made it. The view up there is excellent, and the breeze feels wonderful. It’s next to a steep rock cliff face, and if you look you can see white birds soaring next to the green mountain side (tropicbirds).

Saw a lone frigate soaring high as well, and later from the road, big furry floppy-winged fruitbats.

From the overlook I filmed the bay as a huge container ship pulled out and went to sea. Then the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai came in, which is what I was hoping for, so I filmed them pulling in. Glorious sight- the tiny white ship in that big bay surrounded by steep green mountains.