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Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands THE MARSHALL ISLANDS


Mar 14. MAJURO It was already Friday and we had some errands to run before we left for Ailinglaplap.  We had been perusing the handicrafts shops all week and finally decided what we wanted to buy.  We also had to pay up at the Sea Transport Authority for our ship and get some extra food in case the meals on board weren’t the best.   

We spent some more time looking through the Alele museum as well.  They opened the little museum for us and let us spend as much time as we wanted looking through all of the photos and explanations.  It had a great example of stick charts which were the traditional method used to navigate amongst the islands.  The different bends in the sticks represented the different currents that an expert navigator could recognize as he approached each island.  Descriptions were also provided on the various parts of an outrigger canoe, the custom of body tattooing, and weaving. The photos had been taken by early foreign settlers of Likiep Atoll, whose descendants still own the land that was acquired from a high chief several generations ago.  They offered rare glimpses into a culture that has changed dramatically.

We stopped at the Bikini Atoll Liaison, also Bikini Atoll Divers, office to look at their dive merchandise.  The Bikini Liaison, Jack Niedenthal, chatted with us for a few minutes.  He has been in The Marshalls for many years, having originally come as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and is married to a woman from Bikini Island.  Diving the Bikini Atoll is the thousand pound gorilla of diving.  The USS Saratoga is the largest divable wreck in the world.  But, the slow global economy and travel fears only had Jack out to the atoll a handful of times over the past few years.  When Rob purchased one of his dive shirts he also offered us a copy of the book he had written about the people of Bikini , “For the good of mankind: A History of the People of Bikini and their Islands”. 

Rob was interested in getting a Marshallese driver’s license as a souvenir which we obtained through the Police Department as well as a new license plate for our growing collection of tropical island plates.  Payment for these items had to be made at the Ministry of Finance, other end of town.  Rob’s shorts made him "un-presentable" so I got the exciting duty of standing in line to pay the bill.  He got to walk back to the other end of town to collect the souvenirs.

Majuro was getting old and we still had a couple of more days to kills before our outer island visit.  Our room had a fan but even with the window open it was much better to be in the air conditioned restaurant during the day.  I had returned to the Backpacker before Rob to lie down.  The cuisine of Majuro had left my stomach upset so I spent the afternoon planted on the bed, moving as little as possible to keep cool.  By evening I was eating pizza again.  Room number 9 may have been the farthest from the band but it still wasn’t far enough.

Mar 15. MAJURO All of the gifts and souvenirs that we had acquired had to get mailed back to the US.  The Post Office was open from 8-11 so we had to get moving in the morning to box everything up and ship it out.  We tried a new spot for lunch at the Chit-Chat Cafe with its lovely ocean-side deck seating but less lovely toilets.  It is no wonder that locals often go home to use their own toilets or, as is also common, use the ocean side of the atoll at low tide. 

My Majuro stomach was back so I went to the Backpacker for the rest of the day to read, write, and sleep.  In the taxi back to the hostel I saw a group of kids running down the street and the traffic was slowed to watch them pass.  It was the St. Patrick’s Day Run that we’d seen advertised.  I couldn’t imagine running in such heat but was more perplexed as to how a St. Patrick’s Day run got started in The Marshalls?

Rob took a walk to the other end of Majuro Atoll’s main road, Rita.  At low tide you can walk from the end to a small island but he said that the tide was too high.  He got back to the hostel by early afternoon. 

It was a slow, quiet afternoon.  I was very much hoping that my stomach would right itself before we left on our long boat ride the next day.

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