Torea's travels

Getting around in Pohnpei, 2

20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
+++ this is the last entry: we have moved to +++

Here I sit in our "extended living room", the Mangrove Bay Bar. We have been here for more than six weeks which was not the original plan but the weather did not allow the departure when we were ready for it. What can I say...
Six weeks! It is hard to believe. Again, I have to confirm Einstein's theory - time is absolutely relative. On the one hand it is hard to believe that it has already been six weeks since our arrival, on the other hand it almost feels as if we only arrived a few days ago.
Since we weren't able to see the Kepirohi Waterfall which was closed because the strong winds had snapped a few trees and it was not safe to walk. We were keen on doing the six-waterfall trail instead, but with heavy rains and gusty winds we had to wait for the walk. I was also keen to do some diving or snorkeling on Ahnd Atoll but this was also put off more than once. (you find it spelt Ant Atoll everywhere, but the natives spell it Ahnd). Instead we inflated the SUP and our kayak and explored the bay and when the tide was right the mangroves. The channel through the mangroves leads to Sokehs Bay and the "Labyrinth". We enjoyed the mangroves a lot, although we never had that "Indiana Jones" feeling since we could hear loud music and other human noises most of the time.
In Mangrove Bay, there are a large number of wrecks which has us puzzled but I'm sure they're just old boats that have been left to sink. By now, one would think I would be accustomed to all the scrap, but I'm not. I sometimes still see a rotten charm, but often I get upset about the carelessness towards nature of the people. Of course this is looking at it from a westerner perspective.

One Sunday my hope came true: I went with the dive club to Ahnd Atoll. What a pristine place!
It was a snorkel trip only, but that was good enough, as the corals are just below the water surface. And when we just hung around in the warm, crystal clear shallow water, we we surrounded by reef sharks.
We managed to see most of the historic sites in Kolonia, the only city on Pohnpei. These included the Spanish Wall and the German-Spanish Catholic Church. Well, I should say the remains of it - there is not much left.
When we wanted to see the ruins of the German administration building there wasn't too much left to see. We also found what is called the "Botanical Garden". I wish, you could hear me, clearing my throat, when I say "Botanical Garden". Compared to this here, the Botanical garden in Bunderberg is a gem!
There are quite a few remains of WWII, mostly from the Japanese. We found a collection of Japanese tanks. They seem to be tiny! While Steve can get fairly excited about the military ruins, I get excited about food. Yes, we found a decent pizza and we were finally able to try the local famous dessert of fried ice cream. It tasted like ice cream and fried dough so we can tick that one off. We tried a sour sop which was not my cup of tea, a mix of pineapple and lemon but it has a lot of fibers, that spoil the taste.
I still didn't get the chance to try bread fruit, but my favorite shop, Simons the fresh food produce, provided me with a banana blossom.
I had heard in New Caledonia that one can eat it and I wanted to try. Well, it soaked up the gravy well, but otherwise it was tasteless. I also got young taro leaves that they said was a bit like spinach and I could use it like lettuce. There is no use in arguing about the taste - it was far removed from spinach or lettuce.
One night we spent quite some time at the bar, met a lot of interesting pople and had one beer after the other whilst enjoying the good company. I also got the chance of trying a clam but like oysters, I didn't like it.
Since we are here for longer than we intended to, we had to extend our visa. Therefore we had to go to Palikir, the government city where there is nothing but office buildings. At least the buildings are well maintained and so is the road to Palikir, but I was quite surprised, that there was not even a single coffee shop... It was very easy to get the extension. We had to present the passports and the blue immigration card. Then Steve had to write a letter why we wanted to extend the visa. Paper and pen was even provided by the office. The superintendent read the letter, asked us for how longer we wanted to stay and then put the new expired date to the blue card, made a photocopy - that was it.

Eventually we were also able to walk (and swim) the six-waterfall trail. I didn't feel too well, but after all these days of heavy rainfall and therefore postponing the walk, I was eager to do it. It was a bit strenuous, the path was muddy and slippy from all the rainfall. We had to walk in the river quite a bit - and swim to the sixth waterfall. But the scenery was stunning and I am happy that we did it.
After we'd done the walk I got an infection which got worse for which I ended up having to go to the local doctor and pharmacist. We'd been warned not to use the local doctors but I needed a prescription. To cut things short, I am extremely thankful that I had medical support from Germany and I fully understand now, why we were warned not to see doctors here. One of the side stories of that doctor experience is that the lab was closed, because he didn't have a lab assistant. We have heard that so often, here as well as in Kosrae - the young people leave the country as soon as they can.
But then again, Augustine, one of our taxi drivers, said that he had lived in mainland US but returned as the people in the US work too hard. But of course the salary is tempting, especially for young people who have their own dreams, probably influenced by TV and internet. The minimum wage here is US$1,75/hour, no wonder that they want to escape from here.

Today we went almost up to the top of Sokehs Rock which is a very exposed climb. Only the last 15 or 20 meters we didn't climb. We are a team and the weakest team member determines what we do - on board as well as ashore. It was a good walk though and the view was amazing.
Most of the days we have been busy though with creating the new blog. I need to say that in the beginning it was mainly me, trying the various themes on Wordpress, understanding, at least partly, what we were doing. I got help from one of Steve's friends though, but Steve became really eager when it came to the point where we had to fill the blog with content. He wrote some new entries, you find it in "Miscellaneous" and "Torea" for example. He also "edited" my/our old entries. Sometimes we fought about paragraphs or punctuation because in German we use for instance the colon in a different way. I am worried, that this is no longer "my blog", but I do not see a point in fighting about paragraphs either. However, exactly one year after I arrived in Sydney, we are ready to launch our new blog, internet permitting. We were chased away from our extended living room where the internet reception is way better, because the Government of Pohnpei have their Christmas function there this afternoon. They expect up to 700 people so we will sit in the cockpit and watch the spectacle, after we've launched the blog.

On Monday we were invited to the Christmas function of Mangrove Bay Bar and Hotel staff. I guess they think we are on the inventory by now. It was a fun evening (only I still had to take antibiotics and was therefore a bit hesitant with beers). Steve loved all the meat dishes, a band from the Marshall Islands played quite a variety of music styles and I enjoyed watching all the people. They did the Secret Santa, and whenever someone was called to get the present, they had to perform any kind of a dance move; on a stage. As you can imagine, some were very confident, others weren't. Kumar, the owner of the Hotel and Bar, was also called, but he didn't move. In his case, the present, a traditional basket made of palm leaves was brought to him. He was at the same table as we were and after a short while he came across and gave us this basket. Apparently the basket, filled with bananas and coconut and something wrapped in a plastic bag are meant to be taken on a boat as a lucky charm for prosperous fishing. Kumar said, as we are livaboards, we should take it! When we got back to Torea it was dark and we were tired so we left the basket outside, behind the steering wheel. The following morning, I wanted to take a picture and also satisfy my curiosity: What is in the plastic bag? I pushed a finger - it moved! The present was alive! Steve jumped into the cockpit and opened the bag. It was two huge crabs that were none too happy. For them it must have been Christmas, as they were released in the water and did not end up in a pot...
We will stay here for Christmas but will set sail at the next favorable weather window.

+++ this is the last entry: we have moved to +++

photo taken from Sokehs Rock

Mangrove Labyrinth

20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
a nice trip with the kayak

a special moment at Ahnd Atoll

20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
reef sharks, so close!


20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
exploring exotic fruits


20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
One of the six waterfalls

Expoloring Kolonia

20 December 2023
Stephen and Kristina Hall
The Botanical Garden - or the remains...
Vessel Name: Torea
Vessel Make/Model: Bill Couldrey
Hailing Port: New Zealand
Crew: Steve Hall and Kristina Herzogenrath
Extra: Torea was launched in 1966 as an offshore racing yacht. She was designed by Bill Couldrey and built by Keith Atkinson in triple diagonal kauri. Torea competed and finished in the 1969 Sydney Hobart race.

Who: Steve Hall and Kristina Herzogenrath
Port: New Zealand