Monday, July 8, 2013

Micronesia: Day 15 - Public Health Signs, Kolonia, and The Rusty Anchor

Saturday, July 6, 2013
11:34 P.M.

Anybody know what this means?

Ok, I started this and uploaded all the pictures at 11:34 P.M. on Saturday, but now it is 9:32 P.M. on Sunday and I am just beginning to actually type about what happened. Well, let's get to it before it all washes out of my brain.

I was originally going to do a homestay from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. But after my two seizures, the UW powers told my teacher and parents that I was forbidden from doing a homestay. When my teacher was talking with the head of the IPE on Thursday, he started out a sentence with something along the lines of "since Charlie is not allowed to do a homestay, blah blah blah" to which the IPE director, who had forbidden me from doing a homestay before, said 'What? I never said Charlie can't do a homestay.' But by then, it was too late... having a homestay wouldn't be practical. We found a family that would accommodate my mom and I, but we would spend a limited time with them and they didn't seem particularly intent on sacrificing their time to spend a day with us. So, instead, we made water and table salt out of hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide and had ourselves a sightseeing day around Kolonia.

And... it is 10 P.M., I am exhausted, and I'll finish this blog on the plane. Over and out.

10:54 A.M. 7/8/13

Ok, so I have a bit of time before I catch the plane. Anyway, lets talk about signs.

I wish they had these signs in America. Some of Them Southern Folk could start some waist disposal programs today

Many Pohnpeians were overweight, and as I learned from people's stories from their homestays, much of this was because they ate absolutely massive meals. I don't know how great the healthcare system for the FSM is, but I can't imagine that it's too great based on the healthcare I received at the public hospital. I suspect that this sign serves two purposes: 1.) Warn people of belly fat, and 2.) Reserve adequate hospital resources for those who do not have preventable diseases (indirectly). If hospital resources are freed up, more people can get the treatment they need.

I'll always remember this sign because of what the family doctor that the UW ordered me to go to said. I had puked a whole bunch the night before (right after my second seizure), and even though I had eaten the day I saw the doctor, my electrolytes were still low. Upon checking my vitals and taking a blood test, he saw that everything was a-ok except that my potassium and sodium electrolytes were a tad low. So, he prescribed me "a banana and a teaspoon of salt." But even if I haven't had experience, I'll always remember one pinch of salt a day.

All of Pohnpei is pretty conservative, although it is nowhere near as conservative as Kosrae. There are many Christian churches around the area (check out my post on one here), so this sign could have been quite effective.

They even advertised giving blood. I don't know much about blood transfusions or any sort of that kind of stuff and I've never donated, but I thought this since was really cool. It was right next to the Red Cross in Pohnpei, which is pictured below

I am O, so I'm in high demand

The public health signs were just one aspect of Kolonia. I have trouble comparing Kolonia to any town/village/city I've been to, but if I had to choose one location in the states that was similar, I'd choose La Push within the Quileute Indian Reservation. As I've said before, there were gobs of feral dogs, and there are many in La Push as well.

First off, for those of you complaining about gas prices... quit your yappin'. Gas, like other things shipped to the island, is expensive. I'm actually surprised it's not more expensive. 

I LOVE off-brand stuff. Western Family, Kroger, and Kirkland Signature don't count. This one really caught my eye though, especially with the wizard in the background. It doesn't even say anything about "dreams coming true" or whatever the hell that Irish guy says in the commercials. I didn't have any, but I bet it was delicious. There were also "co-co roos" and some other cool cereals at the store.

Ok, got to get my passport really quickly. Bye

Ended 11:32 A.M. 7/8/13


Reef fish - especially parrotfish

Since Kolonia is on the coast and is protected by a very productive barrier reef, lots of fish are caught and sold in markets. Nearly all of the fish that I saw were reef fish. Some were illegal to obtain, but they were sold nonetheless.

Waving away the flies

There were lots of flies throughout the whole trip, but these flies absolutely loved the fish. At every fish market, there was a man who would simply wave a stick with a bag at the end to chase away flies.

A stray yellowfin tuna

Reef fish are ok, but what really caught my eye was the yellowfin tuna above. This specimen was rather diminutive in size, but it was still great to see. I've gone fishing for albacore before, and for those of you who don't know, tuna are something to be reckoned with.

There were plenty of beautiful palm trees on the island, and nearly all of them were coconut. This was refreshing to see... palm trees without coconuts or dates drive me insane. I'm not a fan of trees that don't produce fruit. What's the point in growing something if you can't eat it?

Your friendly neighborhood Wall-Mart
Kolonia even had a Wall-Mart. You heard me. And yes, it has two l's. In fact, they also had an Ace office supplies and Ace hardware store that were affiliated with the multinational corporation Ace, and they had a humble little grocery store across the street called the "Ace Commercial Center," which was not a part of the Ace that we all know and love. This Wall-Mart was not affiliated with the love/hate store back in the U.S., and I didn't get a chance to go in it. I imagine that the stuff shipped in would be pretty expensive, but like many other places around Pohnpei, the stuff that actually came from the island would probably be pretty cheap.

Here are some more pictures from the streets of Kolonia. There were always plenty of people riding around in the back of pickup trucks. Seatbelts? Yeah, right. I couldn't even find them in the cars we rented. There is a post office downtown, and I was able to mail a letter for 46 cents if my memory serves me right. I'll consider myself lucky if it reaches its intended target in 46 days.

The Streets of Kolonia

Click it or Ticket... not!

A cent a day?

But the most interesting part of the day was still to come. My mom and I were looking around town for a nice lunch when we stumbled across the Rusty Anchor. This immediately reminded me of the Krusty Krab from the ingenious show Spongebob Squarepants, and both of us knew that we had to check out pub and get the associated grub there.

Simply amazing

We got into the building without a problem, but finding the restaurant proved to be quite the journey. You could probably make a children's book out of all the places we went and our adventure down into the depths of Kolonia, but you'd have to change the Budweiser to bubble gum and the rum to blue raspberry.

It was actually almost pitch-black.
The picture above is deceiving. The entrance to the series of further entrances to the Rusty Anchor was actually completely dark. I got a brand new camera: a Nikon CoolPix S6300, and apparently it does a good job of sensing when light is hard to come by. I wish I knew how... I should have paid more attention in Physics 123 at the University of Washington.

When we walked down the stairs that the first picture pointed us to, we came across a spacey, abandoned location with cement walls and very cool lighting. Well, I don't want to say it was abandoned because people obviously had to travel through there to get to the Rusty Anchor, but whoever owned it was either in the process of renovating it or simply holding on to it... most likely the latter.

We passed through another room that had some pool tables, and then we knew we were on the right track. Soon enough, we went into a much bigger room that had a bar, some old TVs, and a beautiful view that looked out over the Kolonia marina. They even had those binoculars on the big posts that are fastened in place, like the ones you would see at Johnson Ridge by Mt. St. Helens.

I don't think they were actually open for lunch, but the owner, a sassy, talkative Pohnpeian lady named Marie, asked us if we wanted anything to eat anyway. I ended up getting some fish & chips made with yellowfin tuna, and they actually tasted pretty good.


As I said, Marie was a chatterbox. She told us many stories, but one of the greatest ones she told was about her husband and the sea turtle oriented horizontally with flippers intact on the wall. This was a sea turtle that her husband caught himself.

Anyway, he was trying to explain to some people that littering was bad. You know those plastic things that will hold 6-packs of soft drinks together? Well anyway, he wrapped one of those around the neck of the turtle to try to make his point. As the same time, a whole bunch of Greenpeace volunteers walked into the Rusty Anchor and saw this turtle with the plastic wrapped around its neck and assumed that the husband had done it as a joke to laugh at the sea turtle. There was a huge fiasco and, according to Marie, a lot of backtracking and explaining by her husband. Eventually, everybody understood each other and calmed down. I didn't see any sea turtles in Micronesia, but hopefully I can see some in Hawaii.

We went back later that night when there was more action going on. The place wasn’t filled to the brim with people; one Pohnpeian friend that we made, Michael, said that the joints don’t really start poppin’ until 2 A.M. on Friday and Saturday nights. We probably got there at around 8 and stayed for an hour and a half.

I ordered a margarita on the rocks, which is something I would not be able to do in the states. The drinking age in Micronesia is 21, but nobody ever cards you. That’s one of the few illegal things I’ve ever done, and now it’s in the public domain, so I hope nobody blackmails me. My mom and I also ordered some pizza; Marie had told us earlier that afternoon that their pizza was very famous. The pizza was indeed pretty darn good, but the most notable thing about it was how spicy the sauce was. I have trouble handling that kind of stuff, but I was able to eat a slice without bawling all over the table. There were a whole bunch of Peace Corps kids over at a circular collection of couches that I later sat by, and they assisted me in eating the pizza. And by “assisted,” I mean that after my mom took a slice, we passed the pizza around the table, and by the time it got back to me, only one slice was left. Better than nothing, I guess.

There were some interesting characters at the bar. First off, there were the aforementioned Peace Corps kids. They were all in their early to mid-20s and were very social, warm, and welcoming. There was one guy and, like, ten girls, so I had one fellow brother to talk to throughout the night. We talked about a lot of different stuff… politics, Peace Corps life, college, weather. He was very enthusiastic about Wolfram Alpha because he apparently was a pretty well-known marketing guy for them. He let me in on his dirty little secret – he was the one who suggested that people should pay for using more than three solutions a day. He justified this due to the increase in user-friendliness and all of the energy that had been put forth into making Wolfram the best it can be. But, he let me in on a dirtier little secret – you can reset your three solutions per day just by clearing your cookies.

There were also some hilarious, unkempt Aussies at the bar. One of them was pretty talkative and had a very pronounced accent, and the other didn’t say much of anything. They were watching a rugby game that was being shown through nice flat-screen TV connected to a computer that was attempting to stream the game live with little success. These guys were the kind of salty souls who could tell the same story over and over again and still captivate your attention. The talkative Aussie told me to stay in school so I wouldn’t end up like him. He’d been in Micronesia for 15 years. Still, he seemed happy and content. As I’ve discovered throughout this trip, contentment is pivotal to happiness.


Above are some pictures of the bar, and below is a picture with Marie, my mom, and myself

Finally, the last picture shows the view from the pub. Pohnpei is stunning all around, but this view is especially fantastic.

After all the formatting, I'm finally done at 3:57 A.M. 7/8/13 in Honolulu, which is 12:57 A.M. 7/9/13 in Pohnpei. Time for me to head to the bed.


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a nice evening finish to your trip to Micronesia. Dad