Life in the Tropics

I’ve settled into a comfortable routine here on Kosrae. On Mondays, I go to town to stock up on provisions. The other days of the week, I do volunteer work. Since there’s no public transit and I don’t own a car (yet), I get around by hitch-hiking. Here’s an 11-minute music video that’ll show you what my commute looks like, as seen from the back of a pickup truck.

Along the way, I pass lots of little houses scattered through the forests of breadfruit, coconut and banana trees. Here are two of the prettier houses.

I also spend time in the mangrove swamps looking for ancient ruins. What does a mangrove swamp look like? Click on the video below and imagine yourself sitting in the bow of a small motor boat.

The mangroves are full of lively critters. In addition to the birds and fish, there are long black monitor lizards with yellow spots and orange mangrove crabs with sharp pinchers. The lizards are the predators. The crabs are their prey.

Watching lizards chase and chew crabs doesn’t bother me, but there are some animals that I don’t like to see die. Last week, a 5-meter Beaked Whale swam into the shallows between the reef and the shore. When the tide went out, people tried to push the whale back out to sea, but he wouldn’t go. He thrashed around in the shallows for about an hour and then died abruptly. All was not lost. He made many good meals for the local villagers.

Although turtle season ended on June 1st, it wasn’t unusual during May to hitch a ride in a pickup truck and share the truck bed with a turtle or two. The larger one shown here snapped at my toes. This was one time when I wished I was wearing shoes instead of flip-flops.

Kosrae is a very sociable place. There are lots of parties. This month, I was invited to two Filipino birthday celebrations. In the photo above, that’s a whole roast pig in the foreground.

There are no movie theaters, bowling alleys, golf courses or shopping malls on Kosrae. So people entertain themselves the old-fashioned way by playing cards and other games. I couldn’t find a chess set, so I made my own out of recycled beer cans.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are favorite activities, too. This past Wednesday was my birthday. Here I am with friends at Bully’s Restaurant about to blow out the candles on my pumpkin pie.

Kosrae continues to be a peaceful, safe and healthy place to live. There are worthwhile projects to do and good people to work with. I can download all the books and movies I need. The warm tropical weather and the beach life suits me well. I’m still not tired of fish, coconuts, tangerines and bananas. It’s starting to look like I’m going to be here for a while.