Thoughts and experiences, Pohnpei 1
23 November 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
After 70 hours of sailing and motoring we were able to tie alongside the boat of the harbour authorities, ready to clear in. Formalities could have been completed within the hour but we didn’t get a blue card when we did the Immigration formalities in Kosrae and now the young officer needed to find the superintendent and get advice on what to do and to issue us an Arrival Card.
Steve then safely brought us into Mangrove Bay and we went ashore to check out our berth at the small marina. The people at the Mangrove Bay Hotel (being in charge of the little marina) have been very helpful and soon we were able to tie Torea to a dock.
Since then we are (trying to) explore the island. Similar to Kosrae, the heat and humidity are incredible. Just the thought of walking into town provokes attacks of sweating.
The same day we arrived, the Danish couple arrived and together we went to explore Nan Madol, the famous ruins. It is a town, well, the remains of a town; the first humans settled there probably 100 AD. Oodles of sagas and legends grow around the origin. The remains as we can see them now, are most likely from 900 AD. The most impressive buildings are made of tremendously heavy basalt columns, up to 7.5 m long and 0.5-0.8 m wide. It is spread on more than 90 artificial islands connected by small channels and bridges, where the name “Venice of Micronesia” derives from. One of the legends is that this is the lost city of Atlantis… Nan Madol flourished during the Saudeleur Dynasty, who ruled from about 1200-1628 AD. They united the population but also installed an authoritarian system, that made life hard over the centuries. Eventually they were replaced by a foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur Dynasty with a decentralised system, that is still in existence.
One day Steve suggested we pay NIWA a visit, the weather station in town. We wanted to find out how El Niño will possibly influence the typhoon season and how it will affect the Western Pacific in general but the people at NIWA didn’t know anything more than Steve had already figured himself. But we were able to watch a weather balloon being released.
One afternoon I walked around and had a look at the woodcarving workshops. Except for typhoons, Micronesia is not well known for any specialities that they export. Therefore I was curious to see the wood carving. No, I have not been tempted to buy a wooden shark or dolphin… But in one shop, I saw wooden spears, they apparently still use for fishing, or so I was told.
Early one morning at 0600 hrs when it wasn’t too hot and humid, we decided to walk up Sokehs Mountain. It was a short, but steep hike so we were soaking wet when we arrived at the top, but the view is absolutely worth it. I hope to get there again when the sky is bright blue (knowing, that it will be even harder in terms of sweat).
I went for one dive so far and saw a huge Manta Ray and also a small shark and eventually, a few anemones. I am always kind of bewitched by the beauty, how the tentacles swing with the current, almost like a dress or skirt in the wind.
Although Pohnpei is the largest of the Micronesian islands (334 km2) and the most “developed”, I was surprised to find almost the same thin selection of food as in Kosrae, but we did get a Sour Sop (no idea how it will taste, once it is ripe) and sooner or later I will be brave enough and try to prepare a breadfruit.
But we are very fond of a little shop that has a good selection of fresh fish. We’ve got Yellow Fin Tuna twice so far, and I am already looking forward for the next time we get it. The meat is so tender, that when enjoying the sashimi, it falls apart on the tongue.
Today though it is our second attempt to treat us with a pizza - a belated birthday dinner for both of us.
photo: Arrival in Pohnpei