Thursday, March 1, 2012
Why I Like the Marshall Islands
I'm not good at participating in the FS Roundup, but I particularly liked the topic: what you like about your current posting. So, in almost no particular order, here are the things that I like about the Marshall Islands:
The view. This is my backyard. It is my favorite part of this tour. We're able to kayak around and even across to some of the outer islands of Majuro. I've crossed it myself, a distance of about 10K—it's a little freaky to cross over the middle of the lagoon and try not to think of what lies beneath (a dead volcano), but it's wildly beautiful.
Beach friends. I like watching the crabs scoop up sand and make their own little piles. The hermit crabs have the most beautiful shells.
Playing on the beach/sitting on the beach/watching Andrew and Max on the beach. Because this is a positive post I will not mention that the beach can also harbor other friends like a dead dolphin, a dead cat, a dead pig, and "Pamper Fish," as well as sharp glass, beer cans, high amounts of e. coli, and tires. So, because I'm not mentioning those things here, I'll just say that some days are good beach days and other days it's best to remain inside.
Crashing waves. At first they kept me up at night but now I like them. This picture and the previous one were taken during king tide season. Although it's not fun for the island to flood, it is fun to see how high the waves get.
Because I have few, um, social obligations (there are 4 Foreign Service Officers at the Embassy—it's one of the smallest embassies in the world), I get to spend a lot of time with my Max. The relative isolation brings a lot more peace than I was expecting. And yes, that is a Drexel box. The other is a UAB box. :)
Time to watch Max do crazy things with numbers and letters. He's 2.5 months away from being 2 years old and he's already surpassed some kindergarteners in some categories. That said, he can't do some things that most almost-2-year-olds are supposed to do (hop and throw a ball, if I remember correctly), so it all equals out in the end. Sometimes he just wants to practice drawing and saying numbers up to 111 to himself (?!?) so I go and I work on my typesetting projects. I've had lots of good time to develop my business and think of some new ideas. A very rewarding part-time job.
The opportunity to learn more about vehicles. Because our poor 1999 vehicle keeps dying on us, and we're not about to buy expensive parts, I've learned to take out a couple of the fuses every time we park the car. It feels pretty cool to do it, frankly, and it adds an extra level of security too.
The random opportunities for cultural refinement. This was a classic pianist giving a Valentine's Day concert . . . on a slightly out-of-tune upright piano (the best the island had!!). It was enjoyable. He comes once a year.
I just love what this picture conveys.
The chance to be creative with new foods. Since good spinach is not available, I've grown my own, and this was my attempt at spinach saag (with chapati bread). It was okay. The spinach smoothie with the homemade yogurt is much better.
Max loves the "rip 'n dip."
We also have the chance to try out local foods. This was a bell apple, which has the texture of an apple but seriously and honestly tastes like pine tree needles. We've had fun adventures with pandanus, breadfruit, papaya, fish, and coconuts, too.
The rainstorms. They are something else. They help me pray a little more sincerely.
Views from around the island.
The supermarket. Majuro is interesting in that it is so far out in the ocean, but we have mostly American-imported goods. We have pretty much everything (in Western Family brand) that we need. It's not cheap, but it's nice to have something familiar.
Marshall Islands Resort's sushi day. Every Wednesday, for lunch, the MIR has a sushi buffet. You get to choose what you want on your roll, and you can have as many as you like for $12. The tuna is freshly caught. Whenever we pass by MIR, Max says "EAT SUSHI! BITE SUSHI!" Anyone who has seen him can attest that he does just that.
The different shades of blue in the water.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is a block away (and there are five chapels on the island). The Mormon connection has been key for me. I feel plugged in, I know a lot of local people that I can turn to for help, and I feel like in return I can help and serve them in meaningful ways, learning really neat things in the process.
The humidity. When we came back from vacation in the States, Majuro smelled like home. It smelled thick and peaceful. We have been on vacation, as it were, from our normal sinus troubles. (The picture above is actually from Arno on one of Andrew's trips.)
AND we get double rainbows sometimes. I love that view. The bidding process and contemplating our next move has made me appreciate it even more.