Tuesday, July 27, 2010

(Near) Death by Coconut

Luckily, our second day here was a Sunday, the day of rest.  Cultural norms determine that minimal activity is to be performed on this day.  We spent most of the day eating, reading, walking, listening to music and talking.  In the morning, Val and I decided to take a walk down the coral beach of the lagoon and read on a sandy patch.  Lured by the beautiful warm water and gorgeous view, I set down my book to my left, water bottle to my right, shoes by my feet and walked to the water.  I stood peacefully in the warm water attempting to register the idea that this unbelievably picturesque surrounding was my new home.  After about 20 minutes, Val ran up to me and told me that her reading had been interrupted by the loud thud of coconuts falling right beside her.  I turned around to see two plump coconuts sitting in the sand directly between my book, water bottle and shoes- literally within the sand print of where I had been sitting.  I’ve definitely learned my lesson: always look up before sitting down.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arriving at Majuro & Life in Ajeltake

After a calm night in LA and wild night in Honolulu, we (all 32 of us) have arrived on the other side of the world. We took a four-hour plane ride, leaving Hawaii at 7am on Saturday and landing in the Marshall Islands at 11am on Sunday (we are 17 hours ahead of the US).  As our plane descended, I nervously peered out the window, looking at the water that we were feet away from landing in.  We couldn’t tell where the lagoon water left off and ocean water began; land was absolutely nowhere to be seen.  Moments later, to our great relief, we felt the wheels hit the ground.  We had landed in Majuro, the capital island of the Marshall Islands- a place that many people have never even heard of. 

About an hour later, we arrived at our residence for the next month; a bright purple elementary school in the town of Ajeltake.  We chose our sleeping rooms, “Jikinkiki” in Marshallese, I somehow ended up in the least populated room.  We were introduced to the bathrooms and taught how to flush the toilets manually.  The trick is to pour a bucket of water in quickly enough to make the toilet flush but not so quickly that water pours out in, on and around the toilet.  Never did I think I’d be so excited to successfully flush a toilet.  We were also introduced to bucket showers, which involves trash cans full of rain water from the water catchment, small buckets to scoop the water into larger buckets that we take into a tarp surrounded wooden frame and pour on ourselves. After sweating profusely induced by a long day in the heat (covered in sunscreen and bug spray), I greatly enjoy this method of showering.  I take my daily shower around sunset, enjoying the beautiful sky and swaying palm trees overhead.  Life is good J

Majuro Airport

View across the street from our home (Ajeltake Elementary School)

My sleeping quarters during orientation