Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Tale Of Two Islands

Map picture

Tuesday March 3, 2015

Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia

I was quite excited about our visit to Chuuk Lagoon, also known as Truk Lagoon, because there is a great deal of history associated with this location. During the Second World War, the Japanese Imperial Command maintained this as its main base in the South Pacific. At anchor in the Lagoon were much of the assets of the Japanese Navy when in 1944, the Allies launched Operation Hailstone against this island. Even though the Japanese had learned of the attack one week prior, still the consequences of the three day assault made Truk lagoon the biggest graveyard of ships in the world. In addition, the Allies eliminated Truk as a major Japanese stronghold for the remainder of the war.

Our ship arrived inside Chuuk Lagoon around 8am. The plan for the day’s operation was rather complex. First, around 8:30am people could leave the ship for the zodiacs and then enjoy a 3 hour snorkel safari. With the help of local guides the zodiacs would be taken to three locations from which the snorkelers could swim and see shallow wrecks below. I am embarrassed to admit that Lisa and I were not excited about 3 hours in the sun and swimming, not to mention that at the time the decision had to be made, the swells were quite large and we did not feel comfortable in going. As it later turned out, the first snorkel event was canceled due to the conditions, but still the group did make two adventures in the open water.

After the snorkel group was off the ship, the ship moved to another location, this time off the Point of Weno Island. From here the diving group departed for the first of two scheduled dives for the day. The remainder of those on board were then welcomed to go ashore on Weno Island to the Blue Lagoon Resort where there would be a BBQ lunch, and people could spend the day swimming from the beach, or just sitting in the shade of a tree. Lisa and I opted to do just that and we took our iPads and found a place with a cool breeze to sit, read, and enjoy the stunningly beautiful location. DSC03171

So my report on this day is pretty blah, which is not to say that we did not have a good time, merely not much happened; on the other hand, by chance during the morning while the ship was repositioning to Weno Island, I happened to go to the public lounge to read. The lounge is quite large so when I entered and found that the arrival formalities were taking place I found a place way in the back to sit. In the process, I could not help but observe the ritual taking place in front of me. The group which had come over to the ship from the island must have consisted of perhaps 15 people, of which only 2 or 3 seemed to have any purpose for actually being there. The rest were what appeared to be brand new t-shirts with some kind of “official” title on the back, e.g. Customs, Tax, Quarantine, etc. The assignment for this group appeared to be to drink and eat as much as humanely possible in the quickest possible time. When the real “officials” had cleared the ship, our Officer left the room, but the party continued. The group began to take “selfies,” and then took group photographs all around the room. When they ran out of food, they departed one by one to roam somewhere on the ship, and then I saw them come back with the little bags they were carrying now “full of something.” They had forgotten that I was in the back of the room as they started to share among themselves what treasure they had acquired – mostly bottles of alcohol. I guess getting into the group to inspect incoming passenger ships much be a pretty prized position on these islands.

Wednesday March 4, 2015

Pulap Island, Micronesia

Overnight our ship moved west about 220 km to anchor off the tiny atoll of Pulap. Both from our briefing last evening to what I could see out the window this morning, we had arrived at what amounts to a “dot” in the vast Pacific Ocean. Sea conditions were not the best, and the divers were disappointed when it was decided to abandon any diving for the day. Meantime all of us were to go ashore where we would be given a tour of the village and then a “cultural performance” had been arranged. Lisa and I were a little tired this morning and so very much out of character, we arrived about 30 minutes late to the island. It must have been a really quick tour because when we arrived the performances were just starting. The first presentation was given by the men of the island. DSC03217It started outside the meeting hall, and very slowly proceeded inside. I managed to obtain several good videos of what was a very interesting dance and chanting presentation. Next, the women of the island essentially did the same thing, and then this was followed by the children. All in all I think we were entertained for just under two hours. It was really very interesting, and I believe that everyone was having fun. When this was over, I started to wander around the village, but I quickly surmised that the island was nowhere near as clean as what we had seen before, and I really could not find anything of interest to photograph. Meanwhile I was being called to return to the ship for lunch, so I headed back to our landing site. Lisa on the other hand had gone back into the meeting hall where many of the dancers were selling some of the ceremonial items they had worn during the dances. She managed to obtain a very nice piece of elaborate bead work that was worn by one of the women, so she was happy. Our ride back to the ship was a little rough, but nothing major, and when we arrived, we were wet and hot. So even though a BBQ had been set up by the pool, we headed to our room to get dry and cool and in the process ordered a little something from room service, took showers, and promptly fell asleep.

During the afternoon we had intended to go over on the shuttle zodiac to snorkel from the beach, but the staff warned that they advised against snorkeling except for advanced swimmers because of the strong currents in the lagoon. So like the slugs we are, we just turned over, and went back to sleep.

Now if it is possible to write a really boring blog from the middle of the South Pacific, I think I have just managed to do it. All I can say is that we are having a wonderful time, and hope for more adventure tomorrow.


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