Majuro, Marshall Islands (w/ a side trip to the States)
December 20, 2005 - May 15, 2006
Position: 07 06.30' N 171 22.39' E
Since spending cyclone season in the Marshall Islands, a number of people have asked us "how were the Marshall's?" In all honestly we can't really provide a good answer. Even though we spent five months there, we never got out of Majuro, so we don't have an accurate, whole view of the island chain. We absolutely loved going up the Tuvalu and Kiribati chains, but once we arrived in Majuro, between the holidays, flying home, and a number of boat projects, we never got out to explore. True, we probably missed out on some cool places, but we quite enjoyed staying put for a bit, and managed to keep quite busy in Majuro.
It was exciting to arrive in in Majuro for the Christmas holiday. Since Majuro uses the American
dollar, gets NFL football & ESPN, and utilizes English, it felt like a piece of home. Trees were decorated with twinkle lights and stores played English Christmas music. After the Kiribati chain, Majuro felt like a thriving metropolitan city!
Christmas came quickly. We had John & MJ (Island Sonata) over for Christmas Eve dinner, and joined a group of cruisers at the local resort for Christmas brunch. We spent the rest of our time checking out the various small stores that covered the 35 miles of Majuro's main road, meeting new cruisers (and locals), and enjoying cold beer while watching NFL football.
Majuro puts on a terrific New Year's block party. There were game vendors, food, and at least five bands. After an excellent dinner out, we joined other cruisers at a local's party and then wondered the street, enjoying the various bands. We danced until the new year arrived and then called it a night.
Since Majuro utilizes the United States Postal Service, upon arriving we went on a huge internet shopping binge. One of the "must have" items we ordered was a home-brew kit. So with the new year, we also brewed our first batch of beer. We had to wait two weeks before testing, but it was worth the wait, as it's some of the best beer we've been able to get since cruising! We also went on a huge cleaning spree, anxious to ship home the numerous souvenirs we'd accumulated over the last year. Chris discovered that Majuro is the perfect spot to load up on fishing gear, and may have gotten just a bit carried away when he, along with five others, ended up buying an ENTIRE fishing store!
Originally we had planned on flying home for a visit when we returned to Fiji in May of 2006,
however after scoping out the mooring field of Majuro, we decided it was safe enough to leave Billabong, and by traveling home from Majuro we could spend more time in the States. We celebrated Chris' birthday early, before I departed on the 18th for California. Chris would come later, on the 27th.
The States were a whirlwind of noises, cars, and people for Chris and I. We had both forgotten just how 'fast' things move back home, but the real shocker was the noise ... cars, planes, people, everywhere we went it felt like sensory overload. I felt a bit out of place with my casual (out of style) clothes, un-styled hair, and makeup-less face. The stores were amazing, so clean, so big, so full of STUFF! I loved going to the grocery store, and more than once made my dad walk all the aisles while I gawked. Waist line be damned, I was thrilled to eat out ... I frequented In-and-Out at least three times in my 2 1/2 weeks in California.
Unfortunately when Chris arrived, he was quite sick, so spent his first week just trying to get better. It was lucky he made it at all, apparently he was almost booted from his Continental flight from Majuro to Hawaii. The Marshallese travel to Hawaii carrying hundreds of pounds of fresh fish .... by the time Chris had checked in, the plane was full -- not of people but of fish! Thankfully he was able to sweet talk his way aboard as the next available flight was five weeks away!
We stayed in MA until the 28th, visiting with Chris' family. In both AZ and MA it was extremely hard to say goodbye to our nieces and nephews ... they are the ones who are changing the most, and our visit home only stressed on what we were missing.
The rest of the month was quite mellow. Chris spent huge portions of his time developing and creating his own fishing lures and organizing all the new fishing goods he had purchased. With the endless amount of sunshine, I spent a lot of time on the computer, creating our Year 2 DVD. In between there were numerous happy hours with other cruisers, and bowling (yes bowling) every Thursday night.
On the 25th, the local yacht club put on the Coconut Regatta [boat race]. Chris crewed on our friend's boat (Navire), while I helped MJ as part of the race committee. The local's raced their outrigger canoes while a good percentage of the cruisers raced their own boats. As I'm not that big of a fan of sailing just to sail (I like to change destinations), and being within 2 miles of any other boats makes me nervous, we had opted to not race Billabong.
It seems we did a lot of eating in April. We had dinner on Island Sonata with two young World Teach volunteers that we had befriended over the last few months. We attended the yacht club BBQ, where we also participated in a soda pop boat race fundraiser.
The local children make mini sail boats out of cans, which are sold at the BBQ and then raced across the resort's pool. The proceeds go to the local canoe sailing 'school'. We dined out for Kim's (Navire) birthday as well as mine. We had to experience Prime Rib night at the resort after all the rave reviews! And couldn't help going back after discovering their awesome Tuesday night pizza & salad bar night. We also had a couple of drink and appetizer nights on Billabong, and a few potlucks. I don't know how we didn't end up fifty pounds heavier!
Chris spent the next few days "re-building" it!
It was crunch time ... lots of small projects to finish up in order to get Billabong ship-shape and ready to move. Fun stuff like cleaning the bottom and re-provisioning. We had a few issues with the postal service, waiting for a package to arrive that we had shipped over six weeks early (from our visit home). Finally, with a good weather window appearing, we the Marshall Islands, on the 15th.