I bet you've never heard of Pohnpei before, even though it used to be a U.S. Trust Territory and it contains a former U.S. national landmark, the ancient site of Nan Madol. Pohnpei (formerly spelled Ponape) is actually the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia--which include Chuuk, Yap, and Kosrae (heard of them, right?)--which became independent of the United States in 1986. It’s another one of the many Pacific islands that were occupied over the years by the colonialist flavor of the month—Spain, Germany, Japan, the United States.
|Oh yeah, it's a Pacific island|
Once I saw the palm-thatched roofs of the cottages that splash down the hill from the reception area and restaurant, I knew we were in the right spot to spend a happy Christmas in the Pacific. The cottages are large, with big screened windows on all sides (no glass) and mosquito nets draped over the beds. An added bonus was the really good food served in the open-air restaurant, including fresh-from-the-sea tuna (both grilled and as sashimi), mahi-mahi, mangrove crab, and a tasty morsel called plum chicken. There was also a pretty decent wine selection and a nice Jamaican beer (!) called Red Stripe, which we drank a lot of. I am still a bit disappointed by the lack of fruit variety in the Pacific islands—mostly bananas and pineapple, though we were also able to enjoy papayas and soursop (the latter best served as a major ingredient in delicious soursop daiquiris).
|The Village, surrounded by tropical forest|
|Closest thing to icicles in this part of the world|
|Lincoln Logs at Nan Madol|
|Blue-tailed lizards dart around the pathways|
But wait—there was another one! Because the island is on the other side of the International Dateline from the United States, December 26th in Pohnpei was actually Christmas day in the United States. And that’s when we got the best Christmas present of all—our first granddaughter. Congratulations to Tyler and Kelly on the birth of little Scarlett Sophia! We were on pins and needles while we awaited news from San Francisco, made especially difficult because my global phone doesn’t work in Pohnpei (ironically, it’s the only time we’ve wanted to use the phone and the only place it hasn’t worked!). But we eventually got the news, and Tom & Anita shared a bottle of champagne with us to celebrate. It was also an interesting coincidence—29 years ago we sent a telegram to John’s parents in Pohnpei to announce the birth of their grandson!
Today we fly to Honolulu for our last island adventure. We’ve been to Hawaii many times before, so we feel like we are really saying goodbye to the less-trod path we’ve followed over the past 4 months—only Hawaii, San Francisco (where we’ll meet our new granddaughter), and London still remain on the agenda before we return to New Jersey in mid-January.