Monday, February 25, 2013

Ever had a cousin who lived 'down by the river'? You do now!

Here are some of the many pictures I've been taking recently.  Kumwail pahn perenki tohlu!

My host sister Jedlynn getting ready for night fishing.  She's a little camera shy.

How much more beautiful can it get?

This view sucks.

Caught about 14 of these buggers.  When you bite the head to kill them, the brains taste, escuse the really bad joke here, a little fishy.

Host Grandpa Sipw on the job.

The fish groupies.
YES, I did have my Peace Corps approved life jacket.  I took it off for the pictures.

When hunger strikes.

My Mickey Mouse tea cup.

Xena, my host niece, on the bamboo raft I made.

Juni and I playing around.

Pillow Pets has invaded Micronesia.  When will it end?

Got bananas?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Night Fishing in Paradise and a Taxi Ride From Hell

There are few moments in a man's life when he's completely thrown out of his element and into an entirely new experience that enthralls him: the first time he sees the woman he's going to marry, the first time he eats Mac & Cheese with hot dogs, and the first time he goes night fishing on the Pacific Ocean.

But before I tell of one of the best nights of my life, I have to tell the story leading up to it.

The day started with me in Kolonia.  It was Saturday, and I was trying to find a way to get back home before 12 p.m. as this was the time I had said I'd be back.  Trying to call a Pohnpeian taxi and actually getting one to take you to Kitti (my municipality) takes an act of God.  On Saturdays, it's about the same chance as you winning the lottery 3 times in a row.  I called at 9a.m.  I waited.  The taxi finally got to me at 10am.  The drive to home usually takes about 50 minutes in a pickup screaming 50 miles/hr down a two-way road with potholes sometimes that make you wish you had an extra butt (sitting in the bed of the pickup, nonetheless).  The taxi started with its usual debauchery of driving around Kolonia to and fro with no apparent reason.  Finally the taxi driver realized that he had a job to do, and we headed to Kitti around 10:30a.m.

What happened next still confuses me.  We had driven 20 or so miles all the way to the college when we picked up this woman.  She said that she needed to get some groceries from her car, but her keys were with a man somewhere in the college gymnasium which at the time was having a church mass.  Okay.  My first thought is, "Ditch the woman, and let's drive on!"  No, that is not what Pohnpeians do.  The driver said okay, and we drove the woman to the gymnasium so that she could find the man to get her keys to get her groceries (sounds like the start to There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly).  The time was 10:50 a.m.  The woman got out of the car and walked like there was no care in the world to the gym doors.  She didn't seem to care that 4 people were waiting in a taxi for her.  We waited, we waited, and we waited for 15 minutes for the woman.  Think of that happening in the States.  You'd have to pay to get a taxi to wait more than 2 minutes.  We finally saw her casually walking, WALKING, out of the gym doors with the man.  She finally put her groceries in the taxi, and we were on our way.  The time was 11:10 a.m.

We then proceeded towards Salapwuk, or did we?  We stopped at the two convenience stores along the way, spending ten minutes at one of them.  Next, we dropped off a passenger.  Finally, I saw the end of the paved road where my 20 minute walk would begin.  The time was 11:50 a.m.

The familiar road bumped along under my feet, and I finally got home shortly after 12 p.m.

My grandpa, sister, and I packed up our fishing gear, Peace Corps approved life jacket, and rice and headed down the same dirt road I had just come up.  We finally were in the water by about 4 p.m. with still plenty of time before sunset.

The fish weren't biting and the water was rough, and we briefly questioned whether we should go home before it got dark.  I'm glad we didn't.  As soon as night fell, the fish started to bite, hard.  Here's how it went: I dropped my line, while dropping I got a bite, reeled one or two fish back on the same line, bit their heads to kill them instantly (my sister showed me how), threw them in the canoe, dropped my line, got a bite, reeled one or two fish back on the same line, ...  This same thing happened on and off for about 3 hours.  While this was happening, the sky overhead was perfect.  You know those planetariums where it's completely black and they show you a perfect view of all the stars?  Ya...  That's how awesome this was.  I could see everything in the sky.  Thoughts of the meaning of life, are there others like us out there, and where is the Big Dipper again passed through my head.  It was magical.  I was like David at the Dentist; I caught myself saying, "Is this real life?" 

We caught close to 40 fish including one huge 20 pounder that my sister hooked.  After a while, it was time to head back home with our full canoe.  The paddling back to our landing spot took about forty minutes, and I think this was the best part of the whole trip.  You may be asking yourself, "Why would the physical labor be the best part of the fishing trip?"  Here's why.  In the ocean, there are tiny life forms that absorb light during the day and emit light during night.  Translation: the ocean was glow in the dark.  Every time I paddled, a streak of thunder would shoot behind my paddle and light up the water.  I've never seen anything like it, and the entire trip back I found myself paddling harder than ever before so that I could make these little creatures work extreme overtime.  I highly recommend you try it.

On our way back to the landing spot, I had the privilege of holding the flashlight around my shoulders.  As soon as I would beam the light over the water, flying fishing would shoot out and skip into the light.  I was tempted to shoot the light into our boat and see how effective of a fishing technique this would be, but right before the urge became too much my grandpa would tell me to "off the light".

We got back home at about 2 a.m., and I quickly ate dinner and went for a quick cold shower in the 60 degree night.  The next morning included the classic fishing boasting of "Who caught the most" (my sister) and "Who caught the biggest" (my sister), and I received some praise: "Nick, met ke kak pwopwoud" (Nick, now you can get married).

I can't express in words the nostalgia of that night.  I will definitely be going night fishing again, and I will definitely be avoiding 2 hour taxi rides.

Pictures of this night to come soon.
That's all for now folks.