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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Federated States of Micronesia Flag FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA: Pohnpei


April 3. KOLONIA We had to return our car by 10:30 and the drop off location was outside Kolonia.  The owner gave us a ride back to town and dropped us at the Police Station.  We still had to get our Pohnpei license plate for our collection. 

There was a cluster of people outside the traffic window but when Rob made it to the front and explained we wanted to buy a license plate the woman behind the counter had us come inside.  She led us to a back room where two men where signing a stack of inspection form and registration certificate for people’s cars.  There was a stack of plates in the corner of the room and the woman and man behind the desk went back and forth looking over the places.  Did we want a private plate or a commercial plate?  We wanted a private plate because it had the coconut insignia but I could tell they were a little skeptical about giving out the private plate. The man behind the desk selected a motorcycle plate that was in good condition and Rob chose a regular plate from the millennium.  We decided to take both and after looking at the plate closely the man behind the desk agreed.  I doubt we were the first to come seeking a license plate for a souvenir but this clearly wasn’t a common occurrence.  The man rifled through his desk and emptied a manila envelope for the plates.  Then, as an afterthought, he had Rob write his name on a sticker which he sat aside to remind himself what the $12 was for. After a long pause he told us we could go.

The Police Station wasn’t far from our hotel and on the way back we wandered past the small public market next to our hotel.  They were barbequing whole unicorn fish on a large grill on one side of the street and were selling different kinds of fresh fish on the ocean side.  The tourist information had listed another coconut oil product shop in the vicinity of the market and one shopkeeper directed us to a house down behind the Chinese Embassy.  I didn’t find it that easily since there wasn’t any signage but after some closer inspection I saw small bottles lined up in a cabinet near the door and saw that they were coconut oil products.  I had to shout to get a man to come out from the back.  There was a large container of coconut oil sitting on the floor where he filled three small bottles with pure oil for me.  He also assembled three boxes of coconut oil soap.  They all had the feint scent of copra.

We had lunch at Joy Restaurant but did little else for the rest of the afternoon.  

April 4. KOLONIA Our visas were ready when we visited the embassy on Friday morning.  They assured us that the SARS virus should not keep us from visiting China but we were planning to cut that part of our trip short just the same.

Our hotel had been calling the Lidorkini museum for us to see if they would open it.  After checking three times we asked the neighboring Peace Corps office what the deal was and they told us to call before coming and the museum would be opened.  Our hotel confirmed it would be open until 4pm. When we arrived it was unlocked but no one was there.  It was just a one room building but had some fairly elaborate displays on Nan Madol history, coconut processing, and sakau making. Just not a lot of A/C!    

The Café Ole was becoming our favorite breakfast eatery in Kolonia. CNN was always on with the latest news about the war in Iraq.  Through our compact of free association the people in the FSM could also volunteer for the U.S. military and some were in active duty in Iraq.  Most people were surprised that we could get Internet access in these far away islands but they really aren't as far away as geography makes them look.

After a long breakfast watching CNN I headed back to the hotel while Rob went to the Telecommunications Authority to check email, which turned out to be painfully slow mid-week.  I wasn’t feeling well that day and we ended spending the afternoon at the hotel but made reservations for a kayak tour of Nan Madol for the following day through The Village hotel.

Our hotel had taken on a couple of new lodgers, finally.  It had been really quiet the entire week.  But, these young boys, in their teens, had a really story to tell.  Skinny as rails they had just spent the last three months on a fishing boat that was lost at sea.  They had departed from the country of Kiribati, thousands of miles from Pohnpei, and drifted until they saw some light from Pohpei's very south island of Kapingapmarangi.  They survived off of their fishing and cachment water for three months.  When the woman at our hotel introduced us to one of them his was very shy and just smiled from ear to ear.  He spoke little English but was amazingly cheerful for having just been through such a traumatic experience.  They lost one member at the end of their journey.  He was a older man, in his late thirty's, that didn't survive their desperate swim from the boat to Kapingapamarangi island.  They used tanks to help them float but it was a long swim and pretty much a miracle that any of them made it at all.  It was a humbling story.

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