Sunday, October 29, 2006

News from the Banana Republic

Before moving to Micronesia, I assumed that there was only one kind of banana: the kind you find on the supermarket shelves, Chiquitas. But now I've learned that there are dozens of varieties of bananas just on this little island.

They vary in size, color, taste and shape. There are tiny little yellow bananas which taste like candy. My favorite bananas are akatahn (pronounced AH-kah-chahn). They are medium sized. When they are ripe, their skin turns deep red and inside, the banana is yellow. Yummy.

Pohnpei's state banana is karat (pronounced kah-ROTCH). It is round, about the size of a baseball, dark red on the outside and dark yellow on the inside. It makes the best banana bread you have ever tasted. It also makes your pee bright neon yellow.

Last week at the market, we encountered a variety of banana we've never seen before. It was green with dark, burgundy veins running across the skin. We asked the shop owner what type it was, but she didn't know and she said the man who brought them in had never seen them before either. Later we looked in our banana book (yes, there is a banana book like some places have bird books or flower books) and it was nowhere to be found.

We bought the mystery bananas, of course. I like to think that this bunch of bananas is unique and grew on a now-extinct tree in an obscure corner of the island. Unfortunately, they didn't taste very good. Even after they got ripe they were bland, almost salty.

When I went home to the U.S. this summer, I found the supermarket bananas dull and boring. I've been spoiled by this cornucopia of bananas.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tropical Breeze

I bought some fabric softener the other day that stated that it smells like a "Tropical Breeze." I was curious, does it smell like jungle rot, mold or pig feces? I haven't used it yet.

Tuesday we had the day off of work for United Nations Day. It was also Idle Fitri, so Rohaizad and I hosted an open house. We had about twenty folks in our nahs enjoying beautiful weather and great food.

This afternoon I accompanied Kristeen McLain who performed at the MITC here at the college. Kristeen is a lyric soprano and a friend of Jonathan's. We did two art songs, two Mozart arias, "Six Waterfalls" from the musical Jonathan and I wrote "Welcome to Micronesia," and a new song called "A Lived-In Face" from Jonathan and my new show.

Kristeen was great! She has a wonderful voice and really communicated with the audience. I've never gotten so much response from an audience for any of the other performances I've done out here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Back Down Under

Last Thursday, my first good friend on Pohnpei, Jen, finished her two year contract as Legislative Counsel and returned home to Australia.

Jen and I met at Kaselehlie Diner in October 2004 when both of us were fairly new to the island. I was doing karaoke with some friends, and twisted her arm into singing "Advance Australia Fair."

After that, she took me up on an invitation to play tennis, and over the past two years we've done a lot of tennis, hiking, rock climbing, snorkelling, travelling to Black Coral & Nahlap island and other less-fun things, like Filipino Bingo.

Many people thought we were married, and apparently some still do. This probably stems from our rousing rendition of "Summer Nights" which we sang at a College fund-raiser two years ago.

Well, now she's back to being a high-power, panty-hose-wearing attorney in Sydney, and Pohnpei feels like a different island.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Today my blog is one year old, happy birthday! In celebration of this event, I am posting a photo of the entrance to the Rusty Anchor: the premier expat bar. It is situated in an abandoned hotel and to get to the bar, you have to walk through the deserted remains of a restaurant. It's pretty spooky, but has a great view of Sokehs Bay. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Unexpected Week

This past Monday I went into work, just like any other day. As I was settling in at my desk, the phone rang. It was the US embassy.

They called to inform me that there was an Army trumpeter on island to play for the funeral of a Micronesian who was killed in Iraq. They were wondering if I would be interested in working with him to put together a little concert/presentation at the College on Thursday.

Of course, I told them I would be interested. So I drove back to Kolonia and met with him to discuss the performance. His name is Jamie Sproul.

Well, it just so happens that on Monday I was scheduled to make official recordings of the US and Micronesian national anthems at the college for official college functions. The thought crossed my mind, "Wouldn't it sound even better if a trumpet were playing along?"

So I asked Jamie if he'd be interested. He checked with his superiors and got the afternoon off to come to Palikir and make the recording.

The recording process didn't take too long, 45 minutes or so, but I had to hang out until 3:15 to give Rohaizad a ride home. So we went over to the music classroom and jammed on the trumpet and piano.

It was great! It was a real high to hang out making music.

Anyways, time went by and Thursday came along. He did his college presentation from noon until 1:00. It consisted of an introduction to the trumpet and some different styles of music. We played together on jazz piece, "Some Enchanted Evening" and the song "Nihesil Kuloak Welu" from the island of Pingelap.

In evening, Rohaizad and I invited Jamie over to our house for a pizza and jazz trumpet party. We had about 15 people over in our nahs, including the United States Ambassador. I can't imagine a more wonderful evening - hanging with friends and playing music beside Sokehs Bay as the sun set.

Anyways, Jamie is leaving today, but it was a wonderful and surprising week.