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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  
Kosrae Lelu Ruins - Sakau Pounding Stone
COUNTRY FACTS Population: 108,004 Area: Island nation of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap. Total area = 702 km2 (all land) Gov't: Constitutional Religion: 50% Roman Catholic, 47% Protestant View Map
Sakau Pounding Stone, Lelu Ruins, March 27, 2003  

Federated States of Micronesia Flag FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA: Kosrae


Mar 25. TOFOL Saw Ferdinand at airport.  Security check.  The flight from Majuro to Kosrae stopped briefly at Kwajalein Atoll, the largest atoll in world.  The golf course along the runway reminded me that this was a tiny slice of America out in the middle of nowhere.  The military plane was a more blatant reminder.  It was only about an hour further to Kosrae.  From the air, the lush island of Kosrae was in striking contrast to the sparse nation of atolls that we had just left.  Dark green mountains rolled down to the ocean.  The island offers very little in terms of beaches but gets loads of rain so doesn’t have to cope with a lack of fresh water. 

Only a handful of us deplaned in Kosrae and by the time we sorted out getting Rob’s lost bag off the airplane we were the only passengers left in the airport.  We hadn’t made any reservations but a Peace Corps volunteer we met at the airport recommended the Trade Winds Motel as a good budget option.  I had to call several times to set us up to see the room.  They were pushing it for $60/night instead of the guidebooks $40 so we were skeptical.  The woman running the snack counter called us a cab and for $2 we were off to the other side of the island to the tiny island of Lelu , home to the Lelu ruins and our supposed lodging. 

The Trade Winds left much to be desired.  It was a totally rundown place and not very clean.  The other budget accommodation on the island didn’t answer the phone so we had our cab go from place to place to find a spot for the night. Our budget would be shot but we needed a place to sleep.  The Pacific Tree Lodge was able to accommodate us for Thursday and Friday nights but not Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  The Kosrae Nautilus Resort had a room for Tuesday but not Wednesday. We took the room for a whopping $105 but felt it was steep for what was not more than a cinderblock cubicle with tile floors.  It was clean, had A/C and cable but $105/night?  Rob was still running a bit of a fever so we were at least glad to have a comfortable room.

Calling around to get our second night confirmed took a few tries.  Kosrae was a surprisingly busy place.  The budget hotel still didn’t answer their phone and many places were booked so we ended up with a reservation at the Kosrae Village Resort.  Eco-whatever, it was $99/night without A/C!  It all seemed a bit pricey for this backwater island in the middle of the Pacific.    

Dinner at the hotel was meant to be some of the best food on the island but didn’t leave either of us too impressed.  I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater but who likes a green salad with banana, sliced pickles and pineapple?  

It was a beautiful island overall but we weren’t feeling entirely impressed with our new destination.

Mar 26. TOFOL The Nautilus at least allowed us to store our bags the next morning while we went about some errands.  They didn’t help us with the bags or call us a cab but I guess $105 on Kosrae doesn’t buy you that kind of service.   Anyway, we wanted to get some breakfast “in town” and make a visit to the Telecommunications office.  The town was nearly Tofol, a strip of about a dozen buildings.  

Breakfast at the Island Café was good and pretty reasonable.  Service at the Telecommunications was on par with The Marshalls and we spent a good 2 and half hours there slowly checking email and paying bills.  Since Kosrae was killing our budget we moved our departure up to Saturday instead of Tuesday.  In spite of the sporadic downpours we walked back from Tofol to the Nautilus to retrieve our bags.  The guidebooks must be a bit out of date we decided.  They assured us if we walked someone would offer us a ride but many cars passed without even a pause.  However, everyone is always ready with a big smile so it isn’t that people aren’t friendly.

The Kosrae Village Resort turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  It was in a very secluded setting right along the beach embedded in tropical plants.  Our thatched bungalow was built with traditional methods so parts of it were open but the windows had screens and the beds had mosquito nets.  The bathroom was the most exposed with the shower on its own small deck overhanging the ground and enclosed by bamboo.  It sounds primitive but the hotel has been well thought out and they provided amenities like chilled coconuts and local limes in the fridge, real ground coffee, natural coconut oil, and reading material on the island.  From looking at the bungalow you would wonder how it could protect against the rain but if it didn’t leak in this downpour it would hold up to anything.  It was the perfect place to rest and after some pondering we decided to stay there for the rest of our time in Kosrae.  The rain was still pouring and the satellite photos weren’t promising so we decided that staying at the KVR would at least let us enjoy our time in Kosrae even if we couldn’t see much else.

The hotel restaurant was a bonus as well.  It came with comparable price tag but was clearly the best on the island.  The couple that started the hotel back in 1995 was from Concord , CA and you could tell they had influenced the menu.   He had worked for a contractor and she had lead a team of programmers.  After raising their children they tired of the 14 hour days and having read about Kosrae went to investigate the island and try their hand at opening an eco-resort.  They’ve done an outstanding job.

The hotel grounds were lush and dense and each bungalow is pretty private.  Looking out over our veranda all of the tiny hermit crabs made it look like the ground was moving.  I observed a gold bottle cap the shape of champagne cork moving across the trail and upon closer look realized that it was a hermit crab in a modern home.  The owners told us that they had a hard time keeping track of their plumbing fittings when they were building the hotel.  They often found them moving across the ground having been adopted by hermit crabs.  I guess even the wildlife is moving to modern materials for housing – more durable and lighter.  There was also a large population of land crabs that scurry across the pathways.

MARSHALL ISLANDS Majuro March 11 March 12 March 13 March 14-15 March 16 Alinglaplap March 17 March 18 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22 March 23 Majuro March 24

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA Kosrae March 25-26 March 27-28 Pohnpei March 29-31 April 1-2 April 3-4 April 5-7 Chuuk April 8-9 April 10-11

GUAM April 12-23