Sunday, April 16, 2006

Passing Time in Majuro

Location: Majuro, Marshall Islands
Position: 07°06.30' N 171°22.39' E
Next Dest: Fiji (with potential stops in Kiribati, Wallis, or Samoa … sometime in May)

Another week or so in Majuro. Still just hanging around, getting chores done, relaxing, and of course, waiting for mail. Although utilizing the US Postal Service, the mail service here is anything but swift or consistent! As of today, a package we sent via AIR from the States has now taken longer than a package we sent via GROUND from the states … and I’m sure we paid twice as much. Even more ironic is we did receive a package today, and it was the third, of three packages sent by Chris’ dad … we still haven’t received the first two or the one sent by us weeks earlier! We aren’t too concerned that they’ll make it, they usually do … it’s just looking like we’ll be waiting for mail instead of weather for our departure come May!!!

There has been lots of cruiser socializing the last week or so. We joined in on the Yacht Club End of the [Racing] Year Bash, where we feasted on BBQ and joined in on the beer (or soda) can sailboat races. The local children make these cool mini sail boats out of cans and usually race them across puddles throughout town. At the party they sell the boats (as a fundraiser) and then we race them across the local resort’s swimming pool. Chris’ boat sank pretty quickly, while I managed to make it into the second round, but then, just inches from a second place finish, by boat stalled out and water came in from behind … I managed to pull her out just before she began to sink into the depths of the resort deep-end. While I didn’t place, I did manage to get my picture in the local News Paper (launching my boat)!!!

A few days after that we joined in on the sushi competition. It was more work then I think either of us expected, but we had a great time and shared some great sushi as well as learned a few new tricks and tips from the other two sushi teams.

And then a few more days later and we celebrated one of our friends birthdays at a surprise get together.

Friday, our good friends on Island Sonata finally departed to visit some of the outer atolls of the Marshall’s. There is a good chance that we won’t see them again until Australia, which will be weird since we’ve traveled so far with them and spent so much time together.

We had a good Easter Sunday, starting our first Easter breakfast tradition of Hazelnut-chocolate Crepes! Yum were they ever good … good enough that we motioned, voted, and passed the proposal to turn chocolate crepes into an Easter (and maybe other holidays as well) tradition. As I had forgotten to get to the store, I had to be a little creative with our Easter dinner, we managed just fine with a vegetable lasagna and garlic bread. The Easter Bunny seems to have forgotten to stop at Billabong this year, but lucky for us he had managed to find us a few weeks earlier, on our visit to the States, at an early Easter Celebration with Chris’ family in MA!
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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Still enjoying Majuro

Location: Majuro, Marshall Islands
Position: 07°06.30' N 171°22.39' E
Next Dest: Fiji (with potential stops in Kiribati, Wallis, or Samoa)

After all this time, you’d probably expect us to have moved on and be god knows where … but nope, we are still hanging in Majuro! It hasn’t been boring though – after the new year, we made an impromptu decision to head home for a much desired visit with family and friends we hadn’t seen in two & a half years. We spent six great, but hectic, weeks in the states, visiting CA, AZ, and MA. The states were a shock to our systems, especially after all our time in the remote atolls of Kiribati … we were overwhelmed by the mounds of cars, people, and noise. Never had a place seemed so loud! While it was cold back East, the temperature change was a nice variety to the hot, humid climates of the tropics. Unfortunately, both of us were sick with one type of illness or another almost the entire time we were home! Most importantly though, we were finally able to spend some quality time with friends and family, reacquainting ourselves with barely known nieces and nephews. It was mixed emotions when we left the states … extremely sad to once again be saying goodbye, but very much looking forward to the slow relaxed (and quiet) pace of the boat.

It’s amazing how six weeks can change your entire view of a place. When we first arrived in Majuro, the consistent winds in the anchorage made the temperature decent and quite livable. When we first hit the shops we stood mouths agape, huge smiles forming at all the goods available. The major grocery store in Majuro, Payless, was amazing with multiple rows of American goods, rather than one measly shelf of tinned products.

THEN WE WENT HOME. I guess two and a half years had downsized my memory of American grocery stores. WOW! Three different colors of bell peppers, vegetables that weren’t rotting or covered with flies. A WHOLE aisle of cereal! Oh and don’t even get me started on the cheese and meat sections. Every grocery store we entered I felt obligated to walk EVERY aisle, sometimes multiple times! So clean, so full!!!

The first thing that hit us on our return to Majuro was the suffocating steamy heat engulfing us. Within seconds we were dripping with sweat. Was it always this humid here? What a bummer, we’d finally acclimated to the intense heat and massive humidity of the tropics, only to have to go through the entire torture process over again!!! Next up, we visited Payless … how depressing. How had I been so amazingly happy over such a pitiful store? Wilted veggies, no cheese other than cheddar, no multi grain breads, oh I could go on and on….

It wasn’t all painful though, on our first morning home, I was thrilled to wake up and get back into our leisurely morning pace. And so quiet here! And it didn’t take long before we’d re-acclimated, both to the weather and the shopping facilities. As a matter of fact, just yesterday, after Payless had restocked with the arrival of a ship, I once again found myself running about extremely pleased by the availability of certain foods here in Majuro … I even scored Mozzarella and Parmesan … both in the same day!!! You can’t beat that!

As for what else has been going on in the weeks since we’ve been back, there isn’t a whole lot to report; It took Chris a good two weeks to get healthy again (we believe he may have ended up with Strep Throat). We’ve been working on miscellaneous projects, both fun and tedious. I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer (working on websites and videos) and Chris playing with all his new fishing gear (of which we now own mounds and mounds of thanks to his over zealous shopping sprees in Majuro including the purchase of 1/5 a fishing store for $100). We’ve been bowling every Thursday and attended a variety of cruiser social events, including the Coconut Cup Regatta, which Chris joined in on as crew on Navire, and I attended as part of the Race Committee (everyone wondered why we didn’t Race Billabong … easily explained once they learned I don’t like to sail!). This Sunday there is a Cruiser Sushi Fest, where Chris will be competing as one of the sushi chefs. While we miss our families and friends, we are thrilled to be back on Billabong and back to our normal routines (the question that remains, is how will we ever manage to live back in the States!!!)

We are entertaining a variety of ideas for our next destination; Samoa, Wallis, and/or Kiribati. No matter what, we will definitely return to Fiji. We’ll probably depart Majuro in the beginning of May. At this time we aren’t sure what, if any, outer atolls of the Marshall Islands we’ll get a chance to visit. We’ve heard a LOT of good things about the other atolls, but the timing just might not work out. As we’ve learned, you can’t always see everything, and it was well worth it to give up time in the Marshall’s for our visit home.
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