Fake Plastic Trees

Recently I’ve become more and more alarmed and frustrated with the lack of environmental conservation (especially the commercial tuna fishing) on Pohnpei. Needless to say, conserving environmental resources is essential for the long term survival of an island that is as isolated as Pohnpei is.

PUC (Pohnpei Utilities Corporation) has taken it upon themselves to cut down hundreds of trees all around the island. What started out as a minor eyesore has finally hit home. They started off on the north side of the island working their way northwest and northeast simultaneously around the ring road. Initially it was the destruction of beauty; the last 10 minutes of my drive into town filled with fallen trees and disturbed shrubbery. Yesterday, they finally reached my village and started taking the trees that were unfortunate enough to have sprouted close to the roadside.

When I walked out of the house this morning the first thing I noticed was how big the sky had become overnight. On an overcast day, watching the storm clouds swirl overhead isn’t that bad. But for 90% of the time all they had done was decrease the shade and increase the heat. Allowing the black pavement to soak up and retain more heat. They say this is necessary. They say this is progress. They say this is something that is always done.

I don’t want to live in an age where progress is symbolized by a fallen tree. Instead of working with the earth we are working against it. There has got to be a way to live more harmoniously with the jungle and the ocean than this. The jungle slithers its way down the mountainsides and hillsides until it caresses the mangrove and ocean. It wraps it green fingers around houses, streams, roads and waterfalls alike. How long will we fight its inevitable, continuous take over?

i am the midnight rambler

“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”

I came across this quote a couple days ago and realized that it really summed up how I’m currently feeling. Oregon & San Fran was an awesome time, a much needed break to see family and friends, eat good food, drink good beer and to catch up. As I started talking to people about my Peace Corps experience – everything I’ve been through, what I’ve learned and my hopes for the next year – I realized how much Pohnpei had become a part of me. It wasn’t something I was expecting to find on this trip. I expected a lot of heart ache, homesickness and thought that returning to Pohnpei would be difficult.

 I don’t know if it was the inability to pick a beer at the grocery store, re-learning how to navigate crowds, being at a place at a certain time or my quest for the best mac n’ cheese; but going to the US made me realize something had changed. It started slowly and then weighed on me heavily, just like the rain. I am completely enchanted by Pohnpei. It’s taken a full year for me to be able to say that. But being back here after a short trip has made me realize that there’s something about this place, a bit of magic and a lot of energy. It hums from every treetop, every raindrop, and every sparkle in the ocean. It’s so alive.

 I’m excited to start my second year; the wheels are greased. As I was watching the sunset the other day I realized time was flying. It was the first time on island that I had felt that I didn’t have enough time or that time was escaping me. I have one year to sharpen my spearfishing skills, hunt for the best waterfall, inspire students, be the best big sister I can be and so many other things that all the sudden, there aren’t enough hours in the day.

 

U.S.- it’s been real, thanks for the epiphany that I’m exactly where I should be.

Pohnpei – I didn’t realize how much I missed you and loved you. From the jungle to the ocean deep, you’ve enchanted me. I’m glad to be back.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy

 

 Hey guess what? Yup you guessed it. Funeral. The funeral of the month goes to….

 

I feel like I’m on Wheel of Fortune except its Wheel of Funeral; whatever it lands on I get to go join the madness of pigs, sakau, yams and wailing. It seems like people are always dying, and everyone knows everyone. Okay, Enough jokes about the dead.

 

I went to a funeral two weeks ago. My principal’s father in law, who lived in Texas passed away. They had to have the body shipped in; just hearing about the whole ordeal stressed me out. I went to the first day. I figured it’d be the cleanest and it’s the day with the most people; I hoped to just blend into a coconut tree and observe. Random side note: there aren’t really cemeteries here, people usually just make mini cemeteries/headstones in their backyards. My family has one just behind our nahs.

 

Having the funeral elsewhere (aka anywhere but at my house) really gave me a different experience and outlook on the whole event. I arrived in the satisfying transition from wailing to singing (singing is one of the primary reasons I attend church, its lovely to listen to; Pohnpeians are very harmonic). A large group of women gathered in the kitchen and around the porch and sang songs. They were so melodic; the wind carried their voices above the trees. And although I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I felt it. The sentiment transgressed language.

 

I wasn’t even bothered by the blood on the ground, the kids running around with raw pig hearts, blood dripping down their arms as they screamed in delight. It was also more enjoyable because I got to see the pig that tore apart my garden get slaughtered and slapped on the fire. Even the burning of his hair and shriveling of his skin as it hit the fire was satisfying. He got his karmic comeuppance.

 

I found a seat in the shade (or what I thought was shade- I got sunburned) with some of the other women from my family. I had a front row seat to the ceremony, but was out of the intensity going on in the nahs. The whole time I really wish I had a camera, but even if I had one I felt that it’d be inappropriate to take pictures. The procession of sakau, yams and pigs started. As a calm observer this time around I found that it serves two purposes. First, the young men demonstrate their strength by bearing the weight of hundreds of pounds of sakau, yams or pigs. Secondly, I started understanding where this practice may have originated. The second realization struck me like an epiphany.

 

Culturally it makes sense, a death amongst a small island community could often be detrimental to the wellbeing of an entire family. Especially if the deceased was one of the main providers. They bring sakau which is the symbol of all Pohnpeian culture. It depicts tradition, honor, heritage, respect and includes everyone in the ritual. It is also extremely valuable, so a family could essentially sell some of the sakau to cover funeral costs. Yams are brought in large quantities. A family can survive off of yams for months and they can replant the root and eat it again in half a year. It’s a way of providing for the family of the deceased. Pigs are an amalgamation of both; serving both as food and as ceremony. It’s a way of taking care of their own.

 

Funerals are about a network of family, community members, and clan members (matriarchal ties) coming together to offer support and condolences. Yes, this is fundamentally similar to a funeral anywhere else in the world. But, the difference lies in the days ahead. The loss of a family member is felt for days, weeks, months, years and since family is the core unit of the community loss ripples across the community as well. That’s why the funeral goes on for four days, to give time for all relatives to pay their respects. That’s why sakau continues nightly for a fortnight, to help assuage the grief. That’s why there is another reunion at the forty day mark. And that’s why the one year mark is as important and significant as the first day of the funeral.

 

These ties bind the community together, allow them to prosper. It really showed me how the spirit and wellbeing of community here depends on the cumulative wellbeing of individuals. They make up the whole. If one community member is going to mourn a year later, they shouldn’t be alone. The same goes for celebrations. There is a sense of kinship among Pohnpeians that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the world; not to this degree. I was really thankful, and moved to be able to experience this last funeral. Being on such a different level mentally (than the last funeral) allowed me to appreciate it and learn about the deep, rich traditions that brim from every corner of my community.

 

Sick Again

The past six week has been a tumultuous time of frequent and varied illnesses and injuries. I’ve wondered several times WHAT IS GOING ON. It’s like the island is trying to get rid of me through tropical maladies. After my sprained ankle I also had conjunctivitis, an respiratory allergy attack (induced by who knows what), had a taxi driver roll up the window on my finger. completely. for two minutes while I hollered. And now I have a gnarly cold along with the usual digestive issues from living in a developing country.

 

I’m chalking it up to prolonged stress, malnourishment (I eat a lot, just not a lot of good for me things) and energy drain (the kids suck the energy out of me). I’m hoping I don’t add the bends to my long list of ailments.

 

Speaking of the bends I’m working towards getting Scuba certified! My first underwater submersion was unlike any experience I’ve ever had; and it was in a pool! The course is divided up into three parts. The first is a 5 unit class/book session, the second is composed of 3 confined dives, and the third is 3 open water dives. I’m learning so much and can’t wait to get into the ocean (once my cold clears up). At first it was awkward; you wear a mask, a snorkel AND the air regulator. I felt like an octopus with all these awkward hoses coming out of my tank, we wear a weight belt (like the weight of the tank isn’t enough to sink me), fins which always makes for awkward walking and an assortment of other knick knacks to tell depth, how much air there’s left in the tank and a compass.

 

But once I bubbled down under the surface and shyly took my first breath in, it was all worth it. I started breathing comfortably and one of the first things I thought about was “WOW, now I can truly have a tea party at the bottom of the pool.” Along with learning about safety protocol and our equipment, I’m basically learning a new language; an underwater language. Some of it is silly, most is practical and as the classes go on our group comes up with new ones including the underwater fist bump.

 

What makes the class entertaining (aside from the OUTDATED and ridiculous PADI videos) is that I’m doing it with a bunch of friends. We’ve taken our underwater language to the bar. The other evening when it was time to get going and we didn’t want to yell across the bar we simply made eye contact with our friend and used the signal for “get with your buddy” and then “I’ll lead, you follow.” He got the message right away.

 

After I become an Open Water Diver there are so many opportunities for specialty classes and more training to become a rescue diver, adventure diver or DIVE MASTER. There is an underwater fish identification/naturalist class that looks cool and an underwater photography class! A step at a time, I know.

 

And I know there are some people out there (you know who you are), that are very worried with my new hobby. I would like to assure you that I will follow all safety regulation I learned. I will not dive deeper than I’m certified for. Will stay with my buddy! And will Safely Ascend From Every Dive (SAFE Dive), to ensure I don’t get the bends or lung overexpansion. I knooowwww I’m not supposed to touch the animals or swim after the sharks or hang on to the manta rays. I will do my best to only touch/hang on to harmless animals. And finally diving is one of the safer adventure sports out there plus I can carry a dive knife and that’s just badass.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Disclamer: this post may or may not be culturally relevant to my peace corps experience.

A few weeks ago my host sister asked me for help on a project. She showed me the instructions – to build a bridge with no more than 100 toothpicks that spans a minimum of 10 inches and can bear a minimum of 25 pounds. There were no diagrams, no further instructions, no “history of bridges” reading. Nothing. (On a side-note I really wanted to question her private school teacher about what his intended learning objectives were and how he was incorporating this activity into the larger curriculum)

I took the challenge head on and took advantage that I was in the midst of reviewing the geometry part of the GRE to draft the most badass toothpick bridge EVER. I got a ruler, protractor, graph paper, and measured angles and managed (somehow) to recall what I had learned in physics about weight distribution. I even got sandpaper to make some toothpicks the exact size we needed. I was sketching triangles into the bridge’s main structure like a pro. Adding diagonal support beams. Overnight I became an architect and we had our blueprint.

It really reminded me of how my mom would always help me on those projects that were assigned that were a disaster for students. You know the ones; so complicated that mom ends up finishing it for you. The ones that were a plethora of poster boards, play-dough models that allowed you to drop an egg from a 3rd story window without it breaking and then creating a power point about it.

My inner scientist melted when Rijayzie said she wanted to experiment with the effect that different glues had on the bearing capacity of the bridge. We went to town with the different kind of glues we picked up! Wood glue (fast drying and slow drying), “liquid” cement, hot glue gun and super duper glue. I know what you’re thinking…super glue and a kid. Bad call.

So we start gluing all the parts of our bridge together and drafted a timeline of how long it will take to assemble the bridge (since some parts can’t be moved for up to 24hrs during drying). Our team work was flawless and I managed to teach her how the diagonal support beams will help bear the weight that the horizontal beams will be holding. She even sketched her own bridge – and we built that as well. One evening we were gluing and giggling about Justin Bieber when it happened. Our fingers got stuck together…with super glue.

I started yelling and she started yelling and we were just staring at our fingers and freaking out. We were legitimately STUCK to each other. We finally managed to calm down and we stopped trying to pull our fingers apart. We were glued together for almost an hour before I remembered we had also bought super glue remover. It took about 15 minutes to get us unstuck with the remover. It was quite the experience; especially since I had a sprained/swollen ankle and was hobbling around stuck to Rijayzie by the finger.

Lesson learned: don’t give kids (or big kids – me) super glue to play with.

About my sprained ankle: My three weeks of not going to town, not going to happy hour, not partying concluded last weekend. It was a volunteer’s birthday and we decided to get together to celebrate. I couldn’t bear to be antisocial; it being against my natural constitution, so I joined in as well. And anyone that knows me knows that I don’t do anything half way – I go full out. So we had this lovely evening of activities planned with the apex of the evening being dancing at Flamingo (the only ‘disco’/ ‘club’ on the island). We picked up a bottle of tequila for the birthday boy and a case of beer.

Contrary to popular belief, my sprained ankle was NOT alcohol induced. 8PM – Thirty minutes after we got to the party I wiped out into a massive hole. It was dark and there are more holes than people on Pohnpei. Everyone that saw me wipe out said it looked like I disappeared into the hole. It was massive. One of the volunteers said he was waiting all evening for someone to fall in it. I guess I won the golden ticket. The massive twisting/pop of my ankle wasn’t enough I scraped up my knees and had blood running down my shins. Awesome. If someone was filming, I’d now be on youtube on one of those fail videos.

I didn’t cry or anything. I just pulled myself together, and was thankful my skirt didn’t come off when I fell. Group consensus was to pour some tequila on my wounds and to use the rest of the tequila to assuage the pain and to propel us into the night. In my mind I was still convinced that nothing and no one could stop me from dancing that night. (Go big or go home right? I kept thinking about the time that I got hit by a car on my bike, but was determined to not let a concussion get in the way of having a good time during my first summer in San Francisco.)

We jaunted around town and went from one joint to another adding people to our merriment (and losing a few as well) and before we knew it midnight was upon us. At midnight it looked like there was a softball under the skin of my ankle; I would’ve shattered Cinderella’s glass slipper from swelling. Luckily everyone agreed that breakfast sounded like a better idea than discombobulated movement on the dance floor. We charged to the 24hr restaurant in town and ate enough breakfast for a week. At this point people started commenting on my ankle but we didn’t want the night to end. So we moved the party to one of our friend’s house were we continued to hang out and I had the opportunity to ice my foot for almost 3 hours, keep it elevated, compressed etc.

I’ve now had a few days to recover and my ankle is doing the rainbow bruising thing (where it turns every shade of horrible). Its feeling much better although I still can’t put all of my weight on it. I also have a solid scab the size of an index card across my knee. It’s gnarly looking, but not infected! So the tequila must’ve worked.

🙂

Sleeping Village

I’ve heeded to my father’s advice (and wallet’s cry of too many happy hours at cupid’s), at least for the time being, and have started spending more time in my village and in the jungle. Although not as exciting as being in town, there’s an arcane attraction to the simplicity and aesthetic of the drowsy village.

This excerpt from an e.e. cummings poem reminds me of the somnolent rain that falls nightly

And i(being at a window
In this midnight)
For no reason feel
Deeply completely conscious of the rain or rather
Somebody who uses roofs and streets skillfully to make a
Possible and beautiful sound:

It’s the honey colored light that skims through the jungle at dusk; turning all the leaves to a golden wheat. The crunching of gravel beneath my feet filling the silence. The way you hear the gusts of wind and the rain approaching from half a mile away; rippling across the distance until it consumes you. The white and purple flowers on the vine outside my window that open to greet the sun and recoil from the night. The unhurried passing of the clock; like everyone is waltzing in half time. Days steeped in nostalgia and nights brimmed with legends of what was, and will never be. People that are identified by families, titles and matriarchal clans. It’s having trees be the tallest thing in the horizon. Having “after the orange house turn left at the mango tree,” be valid directions. Life defined by lunar cycles, trade winds and slack tides.

And usually I’d be upset when there wasn’t water for two or more days. But in my new found romanticism of my village I discovered the quietude of the outdoor shower. When there is no water in the house we still have water that flows straight from the mountain to our backyard. Usually, I’m annoyed to have to shower in a skirt, but for some reason this time it didn’t bother me. Everything was hushed, a gentle breeze floated among the trees and I took a moment to realize I was surrounded by breadfruit trees, beetle nut trees, papaya trees, palms, coconut trees and tropical flowers. Sweet mimosas lined the shower area, they were blooming purple. When I was a child I used to love to run across the cobblestone street to the small park in front of the church and touch the sweet mimosas and watch them recoil, wait for them to open up again, and then touch them again. I’d do this forever it felt like; it always amazed me.

So I showered with the crisp mountain water and from time to time would touch the sweet mimosa with the little finger of my foot. And I would gaze up at the trees, contemplate when the papayas would be ready to eat. I wanted to submerge myself in the invigorating water. I wanted to dance upon the leaves with the floating wind. Then I started brushing my teeth, the noise and vibration from my electric toothbrush seemed to create a disturbance to my entire being. It had no place in the silence, so I brushed manually. It was the most zen shower I’ve had since being on-island. And it wasn’t warm, and I had to use a bucket. I’ve started showering three or more times a day just because it’s so pleasant to sit outside, gaze, think about life and be cool. Showering au naturel.

Days Between

It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post. The days have started to blur into weeks and the weeks have blurred into months. Many of the things that once astounded me have become part of quotidian routine. The semester seems to be dragging and the 8th graders are restless for graduation.

The Garden: Has expanded significantly we are currently growing (and preparing to harvest) bok choy, cabbage, bell pepper, luscious tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, eggplant and kang kong. The mere sight of the tomatoes makes me salivate. And tomatoes on the island are rare, usually they are shipped in and arrive all bruised and disfigured; either overly ripe or still green.

I’ve taken the initiative to model the garden after several CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) that existed in San Francisco that would sell a mélange of their weekly harvest. The kids are preparing produce boxes that they will sell for $5 with a blend of goodies from the garden. Then they will sell them in town to Peace Corps staff and several of my ex-pat friends that have expressed interest in supporting the project (and are enthused about fresh veggies on the island).

The Library: I have been cleaning out, organizing and creating library programs for the kids at the school. In the past month the library has monopolized my time; even during the weekends. I went in last Sunday with my host sisters to clean; it took us 3-4 hours to clean the library. And I got sick. The excess dust and dirt gave me a stuffy nose, a scratchy throat and conjunctivitis. But now that I’ve recovered I’m gearing up for the first group of kids to start using the library.

When I was organizing the books and thinking up activities I was really transported to my childhood. Coming across books like Brown Bear, Chika Chika Boom Boom and the Dr. Seuss books really reminded me of my original fascination with books and the fantastic library programs that existed at my schools. The notion that a book can transport you to a different place will be a common theme across many of the library programs; as well as fun trivia. Remember those jars that would be full of marbles or paper clips and you had to guess how many were inside? The first trivia question I’m pulling out of my National Geographic magazine. There was a pull out poster of the second tallest Redwood tree with several people climbing it. The kids will have to guess how tall the tree is using the size of the people for a reference.

Lately, I have been tackling two personal projects: the GRE and the mechanics of running in my village. Surprisingly the running is far more arduous than the GRE.

I’m anticipating taking the GRE in December. Being a very detail oriented person I’ve come up with a procedure or blueprint of sorts to assail the GRE. Theoretically by December I will have learned about 1500 higher level words (and their antonyms), 300 word roots, 100 suffixes, completed 150 practice exercises, become a wizard mathematician; a mathemagician, written two practice essays a week (about 80 total) and taken at least 10 practice tests. No big deal. So far I’ve been sticking with the ‘plan’ and have put my last minute tendencies behind me, for the time being at least.

My biggest annoyance is my re-occuring (since 3rd grade) mathematical mistakes. I understand the concept, I know the formulas and proofs but for some reason I always make careless mistakes. I can see my math teacher’s writing on my papers when I correct my answers “DOUBLE CHECK!” or “careless”. Where did that decimal run off to?! Or I lost track of the exponent. 2+2=5; where did that come from? Didn’t follow the order of operations even; even though it’s burned into my memory. And then there are the math problems that I know what I need to recall to solve it. So I strain my memory and remember that week in class. I can “see” in my mind’s eye the diagrams of the special right triangles on the board, but wait, what am I doing in class? Flirting with some boy. No recollection what so ever of the 30, 60, 90 triangle formulas or the 45, 45, 90 ones. Perfect. I can recall exactly what was in the notes he was passing me, but not what I “learned” in class.

At least I remember what I learned in my biological psychology class – It’s as natural to forget things as it is to remember them.

And yes, running seems to be more tedious and intrinsically complicated than studying. Strap on some sneakers and take off. Simple. During the current winter season the temperature fluctuates between 80 and 92 with 98% humidity, perpetually. So there are two options 5:55 AM or 5:55 PM.

5:55AM. I’ve never been an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl and to me it’s analogous to a medieval torture device. I wish I could face it with more alacrity and just buck up. So I set my alarm, cross my fingers it isn’t raining so I don’t wake up for nothing and swing my legs out of bed rather forcefully when the sky isn’t even light. It’s like I’m coaxing the sun into the sky. As I labor 2 miles up the hill I imagine myself as Icarus pulling the sun over the hills and into the sky. When I get to the top though, it’s always worth it. I can see beyond the jungle’s gentle tumble into the ocean. The vast Pacific lies before me like marmalade as the colors of the sunrise bounce off of its placid surface.

5:55PM is problematic as well, everyone and their mother tries to stop me to ask me what I’m doing, if I need a ride, if I’m okay. To the point that I’m not even running, I’m just apologizing for my wildly aberrant behavior. And I get made fun of and turn into the village’s crazy men-wai (white person) and to top it off the dogs are awake and I’m extremely out of shape huffing and puffing along hoping the speeding taxis don’t flatten me.

Then there’s the questions: Do I run in a skirt? Do I run in pants!!!? Do I carry a stick? How does one run with a stick, what if I poke my eye out? Don’t run with sticks/scissors? Or should I just carry rocks? And how many rocks? How many dogs are there if I go South? How many if I go North? Are there dirt roads off of the main road? And if so, is it disrespectful to run in that area? Is Nohno (host mom) going to cry if I lose weight? Yes, she will; most definitely.

Holidays in the Sun

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. Boy, am I glad the apocalypse didn’t come! Because it probably would have skipped over my little speck on the globe and when I got back to the western world it would certainly be a real surprise.

My favorite day of the year is the Winter Solstice because it marks the point in time where each day from that point onward will be a little longer and filled with a bit more sunlight (not that I need any more sunshine here). I spent this year’s solstice on a deserted island/atoll.

Ant Atoll used to be a volcano and over time it sunk into the sea. The island part is the volcano’s crater. The crater that is still above water forms an almost complete circle creating a protected lagoon in the middle; with warm calm waters and abundant marine life. We took a boat from Pohnpei out to the Atoll- it took about an hour and a half. I don’t recommend it for people who get seasick easily; it was entertaining though.

To get to the island we chose to camp on we had to circle part of the Atoll since there is only one channel that is large enough for boats. We hoped out of the boat once we got in the channel and snorkeled out way into the lagoon. It was fantastic! The channel has a coral wall that goes down as far as you can see on both sides.

We got to the island and started to set up camp. We got our machetes out and hacked some plants away, cleared a large area for our “kitchen/common area”, rigged some tarps over it that were tied to trees (that one of us had to climb). Then we all walked out into the jungle and when we found a spot to our liking we cleared it and sent up tarps for our sleeping areas. I felt like Robison Crusoe. Some of us slept in tents, some of slept in hammocks. The thick jungle comes right out to the sandy beach and the coolest thing about this was that there was no one else there. We had the island all to ourselves, we could be as loud as ludicrous as we wanted.

Our holiday in the sun was complete with a roasted turkey! I’ve never had a turkey while camping, but it’s a definite repeat. We spent the next couple days lazing around, snorkeling right off of the shore, floating around in the lagoon, sipping sangria, sitting by the campfire and stargazing.

There were a couple black-tip sharks that would swim right up to the shore to check us out. I’m talking about knee deep water. Black-tips aren’t hostile and are pretty small compared to other sharks. We also found a snake! Which is extremely rare since there are no snakes on Pohnpei. We played with it for a while and held on to it until the boat people came back to pick us up so we could show them what a snake was like. They had never seen one. Ant Atoll is also over run by coconut crabs. Coconut crabs are delicious! But they are also an endangered specie, so we didn’t eat any. I also almost stepped on a stingray, it freaked me out. I startled it and when it took off it skimmed my foot. I spent almost all day soaking in the water. All in all it was a much needed break from Pohnpei. And I can’t wait to go back to Ant, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

I spent Christmas and New Years with my family. Christmas came and went without the usual fuss. I woke up in the morning and the kids were sleeping in. It startled me, Christmas is usually the one day that kids are awake early! We didn’t open presents but we went to church. We barbequed in the afternoon, but that was it for Christmas.

For New Years we barbequed in the evening and did a gift exchange with thirty people called Lucky Number. Then the kids went around from house to house in the village and screamed and danced for candy. While they were gone I drank sakau with my family. Sakau starts so early during New Years that some people didn’t even make it to midnight. Our house was the last stop on the candy route, so by the time the kids got back everyone was really sakaued out. We threw candy at them and they danced until 3am. There were no fireworks since they are illegal. Instead the kids take butane cans from camping stoves and duct tape them to pvc tubes/pipes and slowly release the gas and set it on fire to make an explosion. Safe huh?

At 9am on New Year day my family dragged me out of bed to drive around the island. New Years day is for sleeping and recovering- I was so confused. Me and a dozen other kids piled into the back of the flat bed truck with an empty oil barrel and a police siren and drove around the whole island banging on the oil barrel and sounding the siren. For four hours STRAIGHT. I guess the concept of a hangover is foreign as well. We also threw candy at kids that were by the road. After a while I felt so aggravated I was chucking candy at the kids with all my strength.

This has been by far the most different Christmas and New Years I’ve ever experienced. Christmas wasn’t a big deal and New Years was a Christmas+Halloween combo; presents and candy. And to think: Last year I was dancing at a Great Gatsby themed party with fedoras, feather boas, all you can drink champagne and watching fireworks go off in the Bay. It was interesting to experience the Pohnpeian version, but it felt like something was missing.