Friday, March 31, 2006

Kaselehlie from Pohnpei

Our stay in Pohnpei was short since we were meeting
people in Saipan, our next stop, and needed to leave
ourselves plenty of time to sail there and get
situated. We found the frequent rain in Pohnpei a bit
challenging, since we often got soaked, yet could
never quite catch enough to replenish our water tanks.
We used up our fresh water quickly since the
anchorage was so polluted we were unwilling to use
saltwater for anything. Yet we saw a stingray leap
out of the water and often spotted turtles in the
anchorage and local kids swam every day from where we
tied up our dinghy on shore.

With Laundry

We anchored next to a village of Polynesian people
from Kapingimaringi, who were very friendly and
generous, as Polynesians usually are. One of the
Kapingas we came to know, Mylinn, spunky and full of
zest for life, was a delight to be around. She told
us of discrimination in Pohnpei and stories of how her
family struggled to come of Pohnpei and make a living
there. She also vastly enriched our visit with
stories and myths of the Kapinga people, who sailed to
settle in Kapingimaringi from Tonga. She told us of
an American Christmas drop of snorkeling gear on her
remote home atoll when her mother was only a child,
after which the mayor showed up at the town hall
meeting wearing snorkel, mask and fins! Like the
movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy", the western world
suddenly appeared in the midst of a remote culture and
the people were faced with strange things they've
never seen before.

Mylinn and Garth on day trip

Mylinn and her husband took us by long boat around the
island to see the ruins of Nan Madol and we had a
great day of exploring. On the way we stopped for a
snorkel. Then we hiked to an incredible waterfall
where we played in the refreshing water and celebrated
its cool beauty for as long as we could.

Kepirohi Waterfall

When the tide was high, we ventured on to Nan Madol by boat so
we could pass through its many canals. Nan Madol is
an amazing stone ruin of a sophisticated ancient
culture, built over the water on a series of islets.
Parts of it are like a fortress of stone logs stacked
on each other. Everyone marvels at how difficult it
must have been to construct such a canal city of stone
(like Venice) and must have been even more impressive
in its heyday with all its cultural aspects than even
its ruins today can suggest. We saw a number of
underground rooms, believed to be for holding
prisoners, as well as access sewers where the eel that
the people worshipped was fed.

Nan Madol (NanDowas or War Temple)

Mylinn told us a Kapinga story of a male baby born and
lost at the waters edge. Across the water the baby
was found by an older couple and reared, but forbidden
to cross the canal. As he got older he burned with
curiosity and snuck across the canal where he
encountered his birth mother, the chief's wife. She
noticed the resemblance, but he did not understand and
he slapped her, leaving a mark. The Chief found out
and banished the boy to another island. Yet the eel
(whom they worshipped) left as well. Once the chief
discovered that the eel had gone along, he organized a
raiding party to steel the eel back. The raiding
party failed, losing 2 of their 5 boats. Once the
chief realized his mistake he sent a party to
apologize and bring back both the eel and the boy.
Mylinn told us a number of other stories like this and
lent us a book with even more stories.

We spent the rest of our visit to Pohnpei wandering
about the fairly typical 3rd world town of Kolonia.
We appreciated the decent selection of stores,
offering tremendous variety of products compared to
Kwaj, so we were able to fill holes in our food
provisions from all over the world. We ate out
several times, and found the local specialty of raw
Ahi to be delicious. We shared the company of a
Scottish yachtie, whose Filipina wife and their young
son had just rejoined him after a number of months
apart. The boy was dark like his mother but with a
shock of blond hair! We even ventured over to the
Village Resort, where most people from Kwaj seem to
stay, to check it out. We enjoyed the lovely view and
atmosphere of the resort while having a drink and
checked out the bungalows before returning to the 3rd

Within a week, once we recovered from the check out
fees, we were off to Saipan, a 6 day sail.

Wendy Hinman and Garth Wilcox
S/V Velella (Wylie 31)