Thursday, September 3, 2009

Earth Shaking & Boats Aground

I woke up early Sunday morning not to the church bell announcing church will be starting in one hour, but rather to my house shaking at 4 AM. I’ve gotten used to the 2-3 second tremors as part of life in Samoa and on the Ring of Fire and I woke up to the shaking thinking it would stop after the usual 2-3 seconds. However, this time not only did it not stop, but it intensified as the shaking was due to a 6.6 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter 110 miles West of Apia. While the earthquake Sunday morning was by no means a big quake (no damage here), it was the strongest I have ever felt. It is unsettling to wake up to your stuff dancing on your bookshelves. I heard the rumbling of the Earth and the clatter of my books on the shelves. I have about 30 feet before a small cliff and the ocean. When the rumbling didn’t quit but became stronger I was a little anxious I might have to bolt out the door, but alas the 10 seconds of fun ended & I went back to sleep.

Diving was fun a couple of weekends ago. We dove the Rock & Apolima Gardens. The Rock is supposedly the best dive in Samoa. We had a pretty good dive as the weather was perfect for diving. We saw a 3 foot White-tip Reef Shark, who wanted nothing to do with us and bolted the second we desended, a massive Humphead Wrasse, which can get up to 7.5 feet and this one was probably that big, & a school of 13 barracuda, all 3-4 feet long, which circled us for a while deciding who they wanted to have for brunch. I guess they didn’t fancy any of us because they soon swam off to see of there was anything better to eat elsewhere. Apolima Gardens was a good dive as well. We saw two turtles, which came within 3-4 feet of me (up close encounter!) and another Humphead Wrasse, this one was only 5-6 feet though, small fish. The coolest part of the trip was the odd noise we heard on the second dive. It was low, almost like a foghorn. I thought something was wrong with someone’s gear. It wasn’t until we ascended did the dive master say the noise was whales. Awesome! Humpbacks are the most common whales seen here in Samoa, so most likely those were the originators of the sound. It didn’t sound like the typical high-pitched sound of Humpbacks, but perhaps the call was not of the mating purpose (as the high-pitched sounds are) and the low-pitched sound was another sound in the whale’s soundtrack. Not a bad day diving at all, but then again any day diving is always a good one in my book.

If you have been keeping up with my blog I just posted about the road switch and added a link to a Wall Street Journal article. Recently, PASS had a motion to the high court trying to stop the road switch. They lost, so Monday will be a very interesting day here in Samoa. I had planned to be in Apia to watch the fun, otherwise known as complete chaos, but since the PM declared Monday and Tuesday holidays (meaning no buses) that means I would have to come in Saturday and stay in until Wednesday and that is just too much time to be in Apia doing nothing. I will just have to listen to the radio for anything interesting happening. I’ll let you know if anything interesting goes on. I’m still curious to see what happens with the buses after the road switch holidays because they are planning on protesting. They have a just cause since cutting a new door will take $50,000 Tala and takes two weeks or so for each bus. Savai’i will have a really hard time getting their buses cut because only one place can do it on Savai’i and cutting new doors for all the buses there will take 2 years. Meanwhile, they aren’t supposed to drive with the doors on the opposite side as they are now. I’m really unsure what is going to happen. It is going to be an interesting week next week; that is guaranteed.

There is an odd sight in the wharf in Apia this week. A large shipping container is stranded on the reef, keeling to one side and seems like it might become permanent. It was headed to Tonga and is carrying cement so it isn’t like it is a light load. The tugboats trying to pull the ship free couldn’t budge the ship, so for now it is an interesting sight in the capital. The funny thing is a small fishing boat is now also stranded. From what I heard on the radio news was the fishing boat didn’t know the shipping boat was stranded so it headed in the same direction, only to find ground. I’m not sure how the boats are to be freed.

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