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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands THE MARSHALL ISLANDS


Mar 12. MAJURO We’d made our decision to take the boat to Ailinglaplap for the canoe races instead of the field trip to the outer islands.  It sounded as though there would be more tourists but the opportunity to see a traditional outrigger canoe race seemed too good to pass up. The Visitor Authority had no details on the event but the head of the Sea Transportation Authority, a man named Wallace Peter, handed us his own invitation to the event and reserved us a cabin on the ship departing Sunday.   

The canoe race, it turned out, was a reenactment of a Marshallese legend called “The Jebro Race”. Wallace’s invitation gave a summary of the legend as well as an itinerary of the week's events.  The legend told the story of a race between brothers to become the next chief.  Their mother pleaded to join to race but none of the brothers wanted her on his canoe with the heavy bundle of mats she was carrying.  Jebro, the youngest son, was the only brother who invited his mother to ride in his canoe. As the brothers began rowing their canoes the mother unrolled her mats and revealed a sail and other tools to help Jebro sail his canoe.  She taught him how to read the wind and ocean to navigate his canoe and win the race.  He is remembered in the legend as a compassionate chief who was well liked by his people. 

We hadn’t been able to track Wallace down in the morning and spent lunch at the RRE waiting for him to return.  The RRE is one of the major hotels on the island and is owned by the same man who owns the RRE supermarket among other properties.  The RRE restaurant, The Tide Table, a known expat hangout with views of the lagoon, had some good food but it wasn’t the cheapest place in town.  The Islands weren’t really cut out for a backpacker’s budget but it was hard to figure out how a place that had a minimum wage of $1.50/hour could be almost as expensive as home.

With our Ailinglaplap departure a few days off we looked into options for an overnight trip to a closer atoll.  The RRE chartered boats to nearby Arno and Millie Atolls for about $500 (I don’t think so) so we investigated the Ministery of Fisheries boat schedule.  They’d just gone out that morning so that was not an option either.  We’d have to find a way to spend the next few days in the exiting metropolis of Majuro.

Wallace Peter had told us they were preparing the outrigger canoes over in front of the Outrigger Hotel. We found about six canoes lined up along the shore, with people carefully working away at fine tuning the canoes for the race.  They were large boats, probably 18-20 feet long and all painted differently.  They were the outrigger canoe versions of western sailing boats with stripes and names painted on their sides.

We had made a critical decision about our plans that day but it was otherwise not a very eventful day.  It was dinner again at the Flame Tree (pizza, of course).  However, the night brought us a rude awakening (literally).  They’d warned us that our room, near the restaurant could get noisy but I’d say that was a real understatement.  They had a band on Wednesday nights and until about 2am our bed vibrated to the beat of the bass drum. 

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