Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday was Pohnpei Cultural Day, so they had booths and performances at the Pohnpei Botanical Gardens. This building is the old Japanese Agriculture Station - one of only three buildings in Kolonia to survive the bombing during World War II. It is located in the Botanical Garden and it looks like neglect will accomplish what the bombs didn't. Posted by Picasa

This is one of the performing groups that we watched at Pohnpei Cultural Day at the Botanical Gardens. The boy in the middle with the yellow mwar mwar on his head was the group leader and started singing the chant at the beginning of every verse. Posted by Picasa

I get a kick out of this sign at the Botanical Gardens, but I don't think it's very accurate. Posted by Picasa

The guys in the back have large paddles which they hit against the wood and against each others' paddles. The women hold tiny paddles, one in each hand, which they knock together and tap against the wood on their lap. The whole time they are chanting and singing very loudly. Posted by Picasa

In Pohnpeian dancing, the women sit in the front and the men stand in the back doing motions with their hands and feet. The girl in the front was doing a dance which looked more Polynesian than Micronesian, like hula or something. Posted by Picasa

The performers exited through the audience after their performance.  Posted by Picasa

The final performers leave the performance space. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Micronesian Music History

One of my favorite places on Pohnpei is the Micronesian Seminar. You can get to their web site by clicking above - and their web site has some AMAZING slide shows and other information.

They have a library with almost everything that has ever been written or published about Micronesia. Whenever I go there I get lost for hours.

A few months ago I went through their photo albums. They have dozens of albums filled with photos dating back to the Spanish Colonial times and including the German, Japanese and American Colonial eras.

I found all the music related pictures (exluding dance pictures) that I could and had them turned into posters for my classroom. I've posted all five of them below for you to learn a little bit of the history of Micronesian music.

In the past, shark-skin drums and nose flutes were the most common instruments in Micronesia. This photo shows Haliong playing the nose flute. It was taken around 1910 on the island of Pulap, which is in Chuuk State. Posted by Picasa

This photo, taken on Chuuk around 1910 shows how to hold the shorter type of Chuukese nose flute. Nose flutes were also found in Pohnpei and Kosrae, but have disappeared now in favor of "western" instruments. Posted by Picasa

This is Essep from the island of Uman in what is now Chuuk State. He was a well-known singer a hundred years ago. Posted by Picasa

This photo was taken in the early 20th century on Lamotrek in what is now Yap State. This man's name is Urupo and he is playing a triton shell beside a weather effigy. Posted by Picasa

Joachim DeBrum took this photo in the Marshall Islands in the early part of the 20th century. Posted by Picasa

Our Ship Has Come In

Yesterday was such a hectic day at work; trying to catch classes up on the material we missed due to the power outage last week. Since I only teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, those days are always hectic, but yesterday was even more so.

So after work, I was very happy that Jen and Rohaizad agreed to meet at my office. We put on our walking shoes and headed down the road in front of the music classroom. This road heads out into the jungle getting narrower and narrower. Eventually the concrete ends and it becomes a dirt path.

We hiked a kilometer or two down the path to a waterfall. I don't know the name of this waterfall and you can't see it very well since the path goes to the top of the falls and it seems to be too steep to get down the twenty meters or so to the bottom.

Its pretty cool to live in a place that has such a glut of waterfalls that they don't have to bother to make them all visible or easily accessible.

After that we went to Lance and Amy's house where, along with Jonathan and Janhabi, we all celebrated the arrival of the supply ship. Amy made Tortilla Soup, using the cheese, tomatoes and tortilla chips which just arrived on the boat. She also got a bunch of avacados from a friend. A perfect evening.

The bad news is that this supply ship didn't bring any breakfast cereal.

But the good news is that we've got a four day weekend starting Thursday (Founding Day) and Friday (Pohnpei Cultural Day).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Jen and I set out on Sunday afternoon in my tandem kayak to find Nankewi Waterfall, which is accessible only by boat during high tide. To get there, we traveled through the mangrove channel by my house to the other side of the island where we explored the ongoing mangrove channels. We kayaked for about 2 1/2 hours. Posted by Picasa

The mangrove roots fall down from high in the sky in such thickness, that it is often difficult to see through them. Jen and I backed the kayak into a tangle of roots to take this picture. It looks like a snake is about to attack me on the right of the picture, but that is actually a root dangling down, heading for the water. Posted by Picasa

I never realized that there is such an extensive labyrinth of mangrove channels around the island. It goes on and on twisting a turning. A person could get lost in there if they were not careful. Posted by Picasa

We came across this guy deep in the mangrove channel. He was floating in the lid to a water catchment tank and paddling with a board. Most of the time he just went in circles. But he seemed thrilled to see us! Posted by Picasa

After all our kayaking, the only waterfall we found was this tiny (1/2 meter) waterfall behind a fallen tree. It was not Nankewi. We will search again some other day. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

Things that Happen in the Rain

It doesn't happen very often, but once in a while we get a couple hours of non-stop rain. It happened yesterday morning.

The rain doesn't effect things too much. People walk down the streets pretty much as usual. Some people pick a huge leaf and hold it over their head and many of the guys take off their shirts, but that's about it. If you want to see a satelite map of Micronesia, I've included the link (just click on the title at the top of this posting).

Driving is a tad bit treacherous, because banana trees tend to fall over in the rain, and they seem to prefer falling into the road. Did you know that banana "trees" aren't technically trees? They are herbs. I guess that is why their stalks are so weak and they often fall down in the rain.

Amid the rain, I went to Pohnpei Catholic School to perform a piano duet concert at noon with Patty Kelly and Kimie Minami. It was the first time I had played a real piano in more than a year!

It was so fun to be with children again. The audience was about 7-12 years old, and there were about 25 of them. We did a sing-along and they belted it out! I asked them to count the number of times they heard the theme in the 4th movement of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusic and their answers were right on the money! (I counted about 38 times, and their guesses were between 30 and 45, impressive!) We also performed to Hungarian Dances by Brahms and some light polka, square dance and boogie type songs - a half hour total.

Then I went to Motor Vehicles to get a new registration certificate because mine was stolen out of my car(!). That turned into a bigger ordeal than I anticipated. They don't use computers, so they had to track down my registration in these HUGE books in which they hand-write every registration. The books are not written alphabetically, but in order of registration. Since I didn't know the exact day I had registered my car, he had to look through the books for quite a while. But it got done in the end.

Friday evening my friend Helen walked over to our house. She just arrived back from some meetings in Hawai'i and had brought us chocolate. What a luxury!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Turd on Bird Flu

Looking at the infrastructure here in the Federated States, it's easy to think that nothing gets done by the higher-ups. Much to my surprise, though, this country has a strategy in case of an outbreak of Avian Flu!
Personally, I would be hard-pressed to tell you the difference between a pandemic and an academic, but someone around here has things figured out.

One thing that I learned from attending a wildlife talk by Harvey Cohen is that Pohnpei is host to quite a few migratory birds as they pass through. Poor critters, if this is a resting point, it must be quite a trip! I think they might be traveling between New Zealand and Alaska. Whew. I can't imagine a bird with the flu could make it this far, but what do I know?

So anyways, that how the flu could get here apparently. After that, things are pretty easy, since we're so isolated. There is an advantage to having only one flight a day out of your airport! Anyone who arrives on Pohnpei after an outbreak of Avian Flu gets 10 days quarantine at Misko Beach.

That doesn't sound too like bad a place to be quarantined, but beware of the sand fleas and the hidden coral. (I bashed my leg up on the coral doing the triathlon in 2004, but that's another story) You could probably spend all ten days of your quarantine waiting for your food to arrive at Misko Restaurant.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I love this photo of Tubbs and TC (and my arm). The best part is the look in Tubbs' eyes. Doesn't he look like he was patched together with the left-over pieces of other dogs? And those dark rings under his eyes, get some sleep! Posted by Picasa

Look at this shirt I bought from Super Savers! I wore it to kareoke on Friday, but I don't think I would really wear it out anywhere else in public. My favorite feature is that when I tuck it in, Lady Liberty's arm and torch comes right up out of the front of my pants.  Posted by Picasa

This is my favorite billboard on island. Everyone has strong opinions about it, but I doubt it has prevented any STDs or pregnancies. As for me, I feel as if the basketball should be wearing the condom, because IT'S the one that's going through the hoop.  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006

International Tennis Tournament

The teams for Sunday evening's doubles tennis rivalry consisted of Jennifer Burnett (lawyer from Australia) and Semeon Philip (senator from Kosrae) vs. Edwin Barnuevo (business instructor from the Philippines) and Dan Meyer (music instructor from the US).

I blush to admit that the Australia/FSM team soundly defeated the US/Filipino team. But they only beat us because we are unaccustomed to playing on a wet tennis court. Then again, we're not accustomed to playing tennis anywhere.

Friday, March 17, 2006

So Much Excitement!

Some exciting events coming up...

Saturday afternoon at 3:00 my musical "Exclamation Point" will have its first-ever reading at the Fells Point Corner Theatre in Baltimore! I've been working on this show on and off for six years, so I'm anxious to see the results of the reading. It will be read for local theater directors and if any of them like it, they may choose to produce it this summer for the Baltimore Playwright Festival. I wish I was there to see it myself, but I have some great friends who are going there to represent me. The director has been e-mailing me and he has definitely caught the satirical spirit of the piece, which makes me feel better about my distance and helplessness.

"Exclamation Point" is intended to be a big spoof on musicals (as well as gays, religion, Baltimore and much, much more). Irreverence is the name of the game. My favorite song it "The Peace Corps Made Me Lesbian."

Saturday morning I will be running a 5k race to try to beat my best time of 23:02. I've been running hills for two weeks now. Let's hope it pays off, 'cause it sure is miserable.

After the race I will help Janhabi move into her new apartment at Snowland in Kitti. This used to be Rohaizad and my "mountain house," but we are happy to give it up for Janhabi. She has been dealing with thieves and horny men out in U for so long, I'm amazed that she didn't give up and leave island.

My good friend Semeon Phillip is on island from Kosrae this weekend, too. We hope to squeeze a game of tennis in sometime. Back in 1993 we used to play tennis constantly, and the last set we played we tied. So perhaps we can find some time to break the tie this weekend. He's here for a conference, so I ran into him yesterday at the cafeteria at the college.

It is also a big weekend for Wanda. This afternoon she will be visiting the vet to get fixed. This morning I gave her a bath and a thorough de-ticking (she had more than 20 ticks, eww!), so she's all set. We might bring in Tubbs, too, because he seems to be changing colors. I don't know if it's serious or not, but his black coat is turning gray.

On a serious note, I believe it is time to say goodbye to Fideaux. She has been missing for more than two days now and she has never done that before. Wherever you are, Fideaux, farewell.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


At lunch today I overheard another expat saying that there are three stages that expats go through when they come to Micronesia.
1. This place is perfect!
2. This place is totally screwed up!
3. Who cares?
Having a three year contract makes this cycle convenient and easy to schedule.

Speaking of schedules, my dog Yum Yum is now hugely pregnant after she went into heat in January. I've been following the process of her pregnancy through a Canine Pregnancy Calendar on the internet (

Today the calendar tells me that "you might want to start taking the dams rectal temperature each morning and evening." Then again, I might not want to.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

So many trees are in bloom right now - fruit is growing everywhere! Apples, mangos, papayas, bananas, breadfruit, avacados... This is a cotton tree. There are quite a few of these trees around, and if you look closely, you can see pods of cotton all over the tree. The wind blows the cotton all over the place. Posted by Picasa

Many, many cotton pods fall from the tree. The cotton blows around all over the place. Posted by Picasa

Breadfruit is in season. Not my favorite food, unless it is in coconut sauce, yum!  Posted by Picasa

The ripe breadfruit fall and make a huge mess. This one landed intact, but often they splatter the road with their white innards. If one lands on your car, you've got a fun little washing project in store! Posted by Picasa

A bunch of papayas in the background and a bunch of bananas in the foreground. We're in the Garden of Eden! Posted by Picasa