Saturday, December 15, 2012

Woleai and beyond...


These kids were practicing for their Christmas party, but
they were really hamming it up.  The little boys in the front
were gyrating and moving around like nobody's business.
They had everyone in stiches.
We arrived after lunch in the Woleai lagoon and did our usual meeting with the chief. This island is much bigger than the last few, but the people are just as friendly. The chief was also very welcoming but did ask us to pay a $10/person fee. Andy and I had talked about this before. On all of the other atolls, Andy spent almost the entire time fixing things and we gave away hundreds of dollars of stuff. We had decided that we weren't going to pay a fee here because it would more than likely be the same way. So we told the chief we would be more than happy to help the people and give them things they need (like the school supplies I brought for the elementary school), but we weren't going to pay a fee. He was very nice about it and said we could stay. Now normally we don't buck the fees, but well... we just don't feel they're justified in this case.

So, we knew we weren't going to stay long as we want to get to Yap before Christmas and before they start charging overtime fees for checking in. On top of that, we are almost completely out of vegetables and anything good to eat (we have plenty of food, just nothing that we want to eat). We decided to watch the Christmas drop and then leave the next day.

Cool, huh?
The Christmas drop was pretty neat. A C130 from Guam did a few fly by's, the people here put out a bright pink target, then they flew by again and dropped two big boxes with parachutes. There was one small problem. There was a mix up about wether the target was where the boxes were supposed to land or where the plane should actually push out the boxes. The result was that the two boxes ended up in the jungle. Guys with machete's were running through the woods trying to see who could get there first. Apparently, the parachute and plywood that the boxes come in are the most valuable things around. We followed them and Andy got some pretty good pictures of it all (although after he edits them all, he only gives me a few.  I told him he could just say I took them, but for some reason he thinks he has a reputation to uphold).

Carrying one of the boxes out of the woods.

I don't know the details behind it, but I imagine there's a squadron in Guam that puts a box out and the people bring in donations of "non perishables, clothing, etc." Then they pack it all up. It's all done with genuine, heartfelt, charity in mind from a lot of people that probably don't have much themselves. The problem is, no one is told what these people need. I saw one box opened and it had t-shirts and down comforters in it. They don't wear shirts and it's mighty hot out here. Now they're resourceful people and they'll figure out something to do with it, but it wasn't the most appreciated gift. When I was home, I probably would have had the attitude of "well they should be greatful for anything we send. Something is better than nothing." I still harbor some of that, but after seeing it close up, not so much. They don't have a place to put things they can't use, so it ends up just sitting around rusting/rotting/stinking up the place. And they have limited space... Not to poo poo Operation Christmas Drop, but just a different perspective. Maybe they could send flipflops, fabric, thread, knives, machetes, etc. For us though, it was quite a treat to watch, especially coming from a military background ourselves and knowing the types of people giving.


The high school
We toured around a bit more seeing the schools and power plant (the whole island has electricity) and went back to Savannah to start getting ready. We're underway now to Yap with semi-rocky seas and good winds. It should be a fairly fast trip, if not the most comfortable. 360 miles to go...

The high school kids watching the Christmas drop on one
of the other islands in the lagoon.

Sailing canoe

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2 comments:

Cary Mullikin said...

Hey, keep taging these islands so I can keep up. I looked up Yap. It looks like your in for more boobies :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Info site for Alaska Fishing Guide said...

these people are amazing, you rarely get to see this people in this way who preserved their culture, they really awesome

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