Monday, January 31, 2011

Lord Of The Flies

a typical landing on a small island in the pacific ocean aboard a 727 jet could be described as "hair raising". the runways seem to be built out of rocks and coconut husks, with old coke cans as lights for the runway. as the plane gets ever closer to the ocean water, the desire to see land(safely) gets greater and greater, the time lapse between the two feels infinitely longer than what is real. at last! i see land!!! as the tires touch the "tarmac" the planes reverse thrusters are instantly applied. at this point it becomes moot, but i either wet myself from the fear of landing on this little piece of land in the middle of the ocean or from the amount of pressure applied on my bladder from my seatbelt as we attempt to stop on a dime.

like i said this is a typical landing on any small island, but kwajalain is not a typical island. owned by the military, kwajalain is a like an oasis in the middle of a barren desert. as you approach for landing at kwajalain, you look out your window and you see a very broad and spacious airport, and then nestled in between the airport and the ocean is a green nicely manicured links golf course. as you taxi down the runway you notice that there is an elaborate and extensive bike trail around the island. for those who do not wish to put forth any physical exertion, there are solar powered golf carts ready to escort you around the island. as you walk out of baggage claim it feels like you've walked onto a 1978 version of the truman show. perfect little roads with perfect little houses, all the amenities that an american thousands of miles away from home could hope for- fast food( subway, burger king, pizza,etc) movie theater, baseball field, basketball court, tennis court, and a skate park. there is a school for the military children, a hospital, a dentist. life's comforts have been brought to you in the middle of nowhere courtesy of the military. the only problem is... it's not provided for you. unless you are authorized to be there, you are not a partaker in the island of plenty. you can admire but you can not touch. as i was escorted through the island and to the ferry to take me to my final destination, i couldn't help but wonder if any of these amenities would trickle over to the nearby atoll of ebeye. after all the military developed this atoll for all the displaced natives of kwajalain. the answer to that question was only a twenty minute ferry ride away. across the beautiful blue lagoon ebeye awaits you. you realize rather quickly that you are ferrying from the island of plenty to the island of not kwajalain. sensory overload ensues. as you step off the ferry you officially have entered a different world. with reggae blaring as your soundtrack, you are welcomed to ebeye. kids litter the island(literally and figuratively). on roofs, in the streets, in the tree, and all over me. if ebeye was disney world(and it isn't) then i'm mickey mouse, and the doors to the amusement park have just opened. as you walk down the street you are greeted by a chorus of children asking for money or serenading you with the word- ri pellae (foreigner). they want to shake your hand they want to climb on you, they want you to notice them, because THEY have noticed YOU. there are always children on the street. when it rains the streets flood with water, ebeye has just become a water park for the children. they build little boats out of aluminum cans, they splash,they swim, they rejoice in their havoc. somedays the children "play" war. twenty five kids on each side of the street. they start chanting war, war, war.... and all of a sudden they all run at each other. playfully each side battles, the winning side having the fewest tears streaming from there snotty little faces. it's funny but i kind of envy the kids here. how cool would it have been as a child to hang out and play and run wild everyday with you and your buddies. setting your own rules making your own bedtime. nothing would have been more fun! i always thought this kind of life was just a story from some writers wild imagination. an island run by children, it's perfect. at least until piggy gets pushed of the side of a cliff and chaos ensues. it's not fiction. it's just life in ebeye.


  1. Yay! Finally, an end to my blog withdrawals! I'm not trying to be too fulsome, but all the fiction I've read since October has seemed like useless drivel so welcome back! Take care of Chris and Gail when they arrive tanned and relaxed from Hawaii and show them how the experts survive challenging foreign assignments!

    "Who is there whom bright and agreeable children do not attract to play and creep and prattle with them?"-Epictecus

  2. Hi, welcome back to the South Pacific. I'm sure you're wondering who this is and don't worry, you don't know me. Vince and Kevin do. Out of all the bloggers on the KHC project, you're by far the most detailed! Most of the posts are quite interesting and hilarious (Scratchy's obituary was a little sad. I was happy he got some notice, but does it count as sweaty eyes if there is a pc glow?) Anyway, my whole point in writing, is to ask if there are any specific foods or things that aren't available on Ebeye, that may be available on Guam? There is another container that goes out in a few weeks that we're going to fill, mainly with clothes and other building supplies. But if there is any food or whatever - that travels ok - now's the time for it!
    Tell Vince and Kevin, Hi.

  3. Brother! Love the post. Make sure to stay away from beastie and don't be the one to push piggy. Anyway skype me if you get a chance. We love you bro!

  4. Finally found you. And your mom finally remembered to give me your wonderful card. :-) I'm so glad to know that you were always able to discern the way I felt about you because you've always been extra special to me. xo Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

  5. I can tell I'm gonna like the ebeye chapter the best. Keep writing and we miss you.

    Living vicariously through you,

    ~ A

  6. hey everyone, thank you very much for your kind words. laurie it's great to be back and even better hearing from you. andrea, i hope all is well with you, jim, and the little one:) brent looking forward to seeing you soon, chloe and s.p.v. i look forward to meeting you guys one day( s.p.v.- kevin will be home next week so if the container hasn't left, he carries some of the wishes of the crew. thank you) jordan, love you and miss you, hope to see you soon. ebeye has been absolutely wonderful so far and i expect it to only get better. talk to you all soon

  7. Love the pic. You fit in so well!

  8. Love your blog! The pics are great!
    Was just doing some bus/ppwk with Marshall today and we also talked about his daughter Gail & hubby on the atoll.
    We also have some more friends otw over there (they are about to close on the sale of their business), who hope to stay semi-perm.
    I'll send their contact/email info soon.
    P.S. the Javier you met on his bapt night at the grad/party- he reminds me of yours, in a way;- also he's continuous a-pio as of Feb

  9. Enjoyed the reading as usual. Happy to be able to experience your adventures in your assignment again. Looking forward to more...