Archive for October, 2011
THE HARD RAIN. REALLY HARD.
Our second and last night at Aggie’s proved to be very eventful and very peaceful at the same time. A monsoon-hard rain fell all night long, which was the eventful part, and the incredible downpour kept the barking dog conference from convening, which was the peaceful part. All in all, a pretty good situation.
As we left Aggie’s, I got a photo of the entire morning staff, including Aggie. Her grandmother started the hotel in 1937 and her granddaughter is continuing the tradition in fine fashion. We enjoyed our stay very much.
BACK ON THE BOAT
We returned to the boat after breakfast at Aggie’s and continued shooting Matthew and John as they went about the work of assembling equipment and setting up computer programs that they would use at sea.
This lasted until lunch and then we headed off on what proved to be the most interesting and surprising part of the trip so far.
THE LADIES OF THE COMMITTEE
John had come in contact with a lovely Peace Corps volunteer named Jenny, and she had invited us to a local village where native women were learning how to use their new manual sewing machines. The ladies are known locally as The Committee.
Jenny had acquired 19 of the sewing machines through a federal grant, and she had been showing these wonderful women the ins and outs of sewing with a machine. The results were heartwarming.
The ladies were making dresses, blouses, and other items with the machines, in addition to fashioning straw hats and painting mailboxes. About 20 of these gals were hard at work in a central building in the village.
Jenny had told them we would be visiting and, in typical island fashion, they welcomed us with open arms, plus a huge, wonderful lunch. We spent the afternoon getting to know the women, and Matthew and John even learned how to weave wicker into what can only be described as something that might have a chance of becoming a belt someday with a lot of additional work. But, it’s the thought that counts and both of our scientists took to their new task with admirable gusto.
After leaving the village, we headed for a nearby waterfall that was beautiful and breathtaking. Matthew, John, and Jenny took a dip while Tom and I recorded the event. It wasn’t Niagara Falls, but this gorgeous creation of Nature was just as spectacular in its own way.
After spending an hour at the waterfall, we visited the house that Jenny shared with two other Peace Corps women. All three teach elementary school children in three area villages. Jenny, John, and Matthew went for a snorkel while Tom and I recorded the event. There is a pattern developing here, isn’t there? But, they had fun and we had fun, so it all worked out fine.
END OF THE DAY
As we said goodbye to Jenny and her friends, I couldn’t help but reflect on what a wonderful service these three dedicated young women are providing for the image of the U.S. Certainly, that is not their main intention in volunteering for the Peace Corps to help people in a remote part of the world, but there can be little doubt that our image worldwide can use a little sprucing up and they are doing their part to make that happen.
Thanks to Jenny, Cassie, and Audrey for their hospitality and for their service to the people of Samoa and the people back home.
The whole day was marked by pleasant surprises, wonderful sights and sounds, and a feeling that we had gotten to know Samoa in a way that I had not expected at the outset of our adventure.
Producer, David Cuoio and Research Scientist, Matthew Alford contributed to this report.
ON THE BOAT
The Kilo Moana is an impressive 225-foot, twin-hulled ship built for oceanographic research. This morning, Photographer, Tom Hadzor and the University of Washington scientists, expedition leader Matthew Alford and his associate, John Mickett, are hard at work. They are assembling the instruments they plan to send to the bottom of the Samoan Passage, where the ocean floor bottoms out at about 5,500 meters.
The research team’s first goal was to map out the western portion of the region. This is done by sending a fan of sound beams beneath the ship and listening for the reflection of that sound off the bottom. The travel time at each gives a “swath” of the seafloor depth that is mapped out as the research team steams along. The previous bathymetry (seafloor topography) measurements were a patchwork of satellite gravity and an early version of this new mapping system from 20 years ago. So far, a valley and a ridge in the old measurements disappeared – artifacts of the old data. These are very important as they govern the path the flow takes as it makes its way through the region.
Research Scientist Matthew Alford is also keeping a blog of the journey. You can check it out here.
Tom Hadzor of Wide Eye Productions and I began a great adventure today. After 18 months of planning, and four flights, we are on Western Samoa in the South Pacific. The purpose: to produce a documentary for University of Washington oceanographic scientists as they conduct research into deep-ocean currents and their relationship to global climate.
This is a project that had its genesis in my contact with UW professor Matthew Alford when I asked him to be the on-camera host for a TV show demo called Vanishing Islands. Although the demo, about the rise of ocean levels and the effect of that process on various low-lying islands, was not picked up by any broadcast television networks, Matthew called me when he wanted to hire a producer and crew to document his new endeavor.
Tom Hadzor and I flew on Air New Zealand from Auckland, NZ, to Samoa last night. In the process, we crossed and re-crossed the International Date Line, a situation that has us totally confused about the day of the week we left and the day we will arrive. I am relying on someone on Samoa to tell me whether it’s Tuesday or Wednesday today.
So, that’s the background of our two-week adventure, and this blog will relate mainly what we do and see on Samoa and on a large UW research vessel in the Samoan Passage.
We just completed HD video production on this member recruitment video for the Boise State Alumni Association. Enjoy!
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