Nan Madol is the premier tourist activity on Pohnpei. We decided to fork over the $150+ and see what the hubbub was about. After a lot of advice, we took the tour out of the Village Resort, which consist of a snorkel with manta rays (allegedly), a small hike up to a waterfall, and a kayaking tour around the ancient ruins of Nan Madol. We left our boat round 8:30 as we had to hike up a big ass hill, catch a cab, stop at an ATM and then make our way though traffic to the other side of town to the Village Resort to catch our boat. Since it’s been raining here non-stop for days, we weren’t very optimistic, but when we arrived, the weather gods were with us and we set forth on what seemed to be a promising day.
We loaded up the giant panga (I still don’t know what we call it here, so we’ll go with “panga”) with four kayaks, all of our snorkeling gear and us (including a really nice lady from CA that signed up as well). We spent the first hour or so dodging bomies and waiting on high tide. We did stop and try to swim with Mantas, but the visibility was so bad, there could have been a hundred of them and we wouldn’t have seen them. So we traveled on and had our lunch on a little bitty island in 35-knot winds while we waited out more tide.
|Bernard, our tour guide/boat driver. The coordination|
it must take to drive two engines, two throttle, weaving through
reefs....nice to be sitting in the passenger seat.
I know my sarcasm makes this out to be a bad day so far, but we were having a great time. I really just have no other tools in my brain to tell this… so sarcasm rules…. Sorry….
After leaving the tiny [trashy] island, we arrived at a makeshift dock with a few concrete stairs where we climbed up and walked a short path to the road. From there we crossed the road and while our guide paid our small fee (I’m guessing a few bucks each), we hiked a short 10 min or so walk up to a beautiful waterfall. I venture to say that the waterfall is not nearly as beautiful when it hasn’t rained nonstop for 100+ days. The rain is good for something.
|I got in and it was COLD....|
After a short stay and a very cold swim at the waterfall, we walked back to the boat and made our way to yet another small island to wait for the tide. Here we saw a poor little bird that had fallen out of its nest before learning to fly. We also became acquainted with the ivory nut that they use to carve much of the jewelry bought here.
An hour or so later, we finally made our way to Nan Madol. I tried to school up on it before I wrote this blog, but I swear everything I read contradicts itself and the tour guide we had tried as hard as he could to tell us what he knew, but when English isn’t your first language, you’re bound to screw things up. So here is what I got out of it all….
Nan Madol is an Ancient City (or according to some, built in the sixth century, or was it the 16th?) built on the reef in what is now Southeast Pohnpei. It consisted of 88 man made islands (or was it 93? Depends on what you read I guess). The first island we came to was the main island, which was used mainly for worship. They had three tombs there, on the left were for men, on the right were for women, and in the middle were for kings. We kayaked our way through much of the city (through the mangroves, very cool). The most impressive part about this city is how they built it. It is made from these massive rocks made of basalt, said to be moved from various parts of Micronesia – two sites from Pohnpei, itself, and one from west of Yap (which sounds crazy to me). It’s built log cabin style with some of these rocks weighing “tons”. Keep in mind, this was way before machinery so they had come up with some funky style of moving stuff without breaking backs. It’s said that given the population (30,000 people) compared with the amount of work, that the effort is comparable to the Egyptian Pyramids. It took them a whole century to build the place. If you listen to local folks talk, it was all built on magic, levitation, and a little bit of voodoo....
Anywhoo…we kayaked our way through and had a grand ole time. We finished the day with a few beers and an appetizer at The Village. We called our cab driver “Cilis” and he picked us up and took us back to the boat where we all promptly crashed.
Today we spent the day getting our chain off the bottom (I was going to take a picture but I thought a big picture of mud and silt and Andy cussing into a regulator wouldn’t make much sense or be even visible), fixing our jib (minor repair) and stocking up so that we can go to Ant Atoll tomorrow. We got permission from the local owner (Willie) and should make it there shortly after lunch tomorrow.
As a side note, we were at the Rusty Anchor tonight and met a guy with a 6-year-old kid. He’s heard about us and we’ve heard about him….so glad to see Jake might have a friend. They might make it to Ant this week, but if not, we’ve promised to make our way up to their house next week and become best friends (the boys even pick their noses with the same fingers J ).