Friday, February 27, 2015


our backyard breakfast tea party had to be relocated to the livingroom
because it was raining.  Still just as yummy.
"I love this dress!"

A. went out for lunch with her daddy to one of the resorts downtown, with a spectacular view.  They brought her a special slice of cake for the occasion.

AnnaBanana and Banana Neda do a birthday dance
 Birthday beach party with games and swimming and cake and fun masks, of course!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tinian...2nd visit

I loved Tinian so much, I went back for more.  This time to participate in a race, the Turquoise and Blue Triathlon.  It was scheduled for the same weekend as the annual Pika Festival during which they celebrate, among other things, Tinian's famous hot chile peppers.  There are pepper-eating contests, boat races, musical performances, even a hermit crab race (I missed it, darn).

Sunset view during the 7 minute flight over from Saipan.
Pretty much made the 2hr delay worthwhile.
The triathlon was small, and a lot of fun.  The weather was gorgeous and several people (not me, darn) spotted sea turtles during the swim.  There is a photo of a few of us at the race over at another participant's blog.  And Peter is not kidding when he describes the risk involved during the very brief hop, should you choose to fly with Star Marianas...
Others took the ferry, in order to haul their bikes, but the way back was especially difficult.  The water was so choppy, they had to circle around the island all the way to the south and then back around and up to Saipan.  The dolphin and sea turtle sightings did not make up for the seasickness that was generally endured by all, from what I heard.

This is a teeny tiny empty "building" in the middle of a vacant
lot.  For some reason the Democrats thought it would be a perfect
place for a sign during the recent election. (??)

the water looked like this for our swim
One of the best parts of this race was at the finish line.  I was among a small minority of local racers because most of the participants are Japanese, who travel from Japan just for this occasion.  The race coordinator is Japanese, most of the announcements and orientation are in Japanese, and there is a triathlon club from Japan that composes something like 75% of all racers.

Anyway, while the rest of us cross the finish line with loud and obnoxious hooting and/or fist pumps (or, alternatively, we immediately crumple onto the grass with relief, ahem...), many of the Japanese--most--would cross the line and then pause to bow politely to the cheering hordes.  So dignified, so polite.  During the race, everyone would call out encouragements to each other, too, in whatever language we could manage.  It was a great vibe, for any readers who might stumbled across this post looking for info about the "Tinian Turquoise and Blue," I definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

more from Tinian

an all-pink room!
the hospital put us up at the "Dynasty" Hotel & Casino

Thursday, February 12, 2015


We found this statement in a book we are reading on island nations in the Pacific:

"These small scattered island groups are, however, amazingly diverse in terms of native culture.  One-third of the world's languages are spoken in just four places: Papua New Guinea, the Solomon islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia."  (Pacific Ocean, World Almanac Library.  Jen Green 2006)
Really?  That sounded very hard to believe.  So we looked it up.

A quick internet search turned up this and this from Nat Geo, both of which claim that the Pacific contains 19% of the world's languages, which is still impressive considering that the population of Oceania is less than 1% of the global population.

Does anyone have any more information about this?  Comments or thoughts?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sea turtles

A couple of times a month, the Sea Turtle Program folks will go out and try to catch a few in order to measure and weigh and tag them (then release them, of course) to learn more about the habits of these amazing creatures.  They called us one morning to see if we were available to come down and observe while they cataloged the six they had snatched that morning.

A. held this one, then released it back into the water.  They can reach up to 35mph speeds

They take "mug shots" of the turtles, and photos of their shells since each pattern is kind of what
a thumbprint is for humans: individual and unique

Okay, but here is one of the coolest things about how they go about doing this: the man on the right, who is holding that fatty in front of us, is Jesse.  Jesse's main contribution, and the entire reason that the Program here in the CNMI can do what it can do, is that he knows how to free-dive down and sneak up on the fellows, then grab them before they know he is there.  Barehanded, at dozens of feet of depth.  How cool is that?
They invited me to serve as a volunteer sometime.  Along with other duties, I will evidently get to swim along in the water with Jesse and watch underwater while he does his thing.  Yes, please!