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Rongerik Atoll
12/29/2011, Marshall Islands

The lagoon side of the same island.

Rongelap calls itself its sister island since it is situated 30 miles to the west. When we stood on the small island at the southern entrance to the lagoon, Rebecca could hear a murmur of voices, but later heard nothing when we explored the northeastern islands. Patrick is too hard of hearing to notice such things. It would be good to encourage the hauntedness of this atoll. There are conservation laws in the Marshall Islands to protect nesting turtles and other wild life but there is no enforcement. Even in downtown Majuro, the capital, huge turtles were landed and slaughtered as the centerpiece for functions or just for ones own consumption. Three of the four turtles we observed meeting such an end in Majuro were spewing eggs. Obviously they had been taken from a nesting beach. But that is the culture throughout the Pacific. Despite the tremendous amount of money the U.S. and other countries dump into these islands little makes its way to the common people. For them, there is little money. They eat what they can find including neighborhood dogs. If we meet any Marshalleese who think we are a bit odd, we will certainly tell them we had visited Rongerick and no one should go there. Rongerick should remain a haunted nature preserve.

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Rongerik Atoll

Looking out to the ocean.

Rongerick was one of the best atolls we had ever been to. Unpopulated and unspoiled. In 1946, this is where the Bikinians were brought to live in preparation for the nuclear testing. There were 23 tests at Bikini and 43 tests at Anewetak atoll, 180 miles to the west of Bikini. Because of the taboo against Rongerick, people rarely come here so the animals above and below water have flourished. But on the north east island, the one which was once populated, the rats have flourished. They all have the normal number of legs, eyes ears etc and their fur looks normal. The rats eat into fallen coconuts. Coconuts absorb radiation from the ground. If the rats are healthy, maybe it is a verification of the finding of government agencies that the radiation problem has mitigated.

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AT THE END, Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, 'Wow! What a Ride! And I still have my Arizona driver license!! '