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24 hours in Pohnpei, Or, I hadn’t meant to the blog about this day, but it was just too Pacific Island
July 18, 2011

My flight included many PREL conference attendees, including a large contingent of Marshall Islanders wearing matching shirts. 00 Hrs-Upon arrival in Pohnpei, a great exodus occurred in converted school buses, government vehicles and rented cars.  My hotel had written that I would be picked up.  I searched the small airport to no avail.  Another hotel greeter noticed me searching and asked what I was looking for.  After I related my dilemma, she confirmed that the hotel greeter was nowhere to be seen. She then promised to help take care of me once she found her passengers.  0:15 Hrs-A bit later, however, my hotel shuttle finally showed up. At the hotel, a large group of Kosraean folk were checking in, so I waited a bit.  The clerk was very nice and took care of me quickly, noting how large a group had just arrived.  01 Hrs-I settled in, took a walk, got some food and then returned to the hotel to ask about the car I had previously reserved for the next day. 03 Hrs- “There won’t be any cars on Sunday,” he said. “Better find one now.”  Good thing he did.  As he called around, no cars were available, as the many conference attendees were snatching them up.  He thought he had one, then that fell through.  Finally, much to his delight, he found one. “It will come tonight at 6.” 06 Hrs-At 6:45 that evening he said, “They will bring it in the morning before church.” Which they did. 14 Hrs-The clerk wanted to wash it first, which I said was not necessary. They hotel clerk then noticed a low pressure tire.  He explained how I could get to the nearest station to have it ‘pumped up.’  15 Hrs-I returned to my room for a bit, only to have the clerk show up and say, “I can go pump it up.” Which he did. 17 Hrs-After a drive about town, I came home for lunch and a break, when a large storm blew in.  Suddenly the entire area was drenched in a massive down pour.  When the lights went out, I checked on what was happening outside.  Come to find out, the wind blew the tin roofing off of a long building across the street.  Three cars I tried to rent were significantly damaged. A car in the middle of the road was buried under the tin and three telephone pole generators were slammed and hung askew.  Several lines were cut as the tin roof sailed across the road and the street was completely cut off.  It took a contingent of men more than a couple of hours to clear the tin, release the car and open the road.  19 Hrs-A hotel generator brought the lights back on for all but my room and the one next door. “I don’t know why it does that,” said the clerk.  However, after some time, my electricity came back on while the hotel was still on the generator. “I don’t know why it does that,” said the clerk. 24 Hrs-I took a drive to the College of Micronesia, where the conference will be, but for the evening was stage to a Chinese performing arts troupe here on a peace tour.  By the time I got to the gymnasium, it was packed with people, who braved the on again, off again rain and wind.  The show didn’t start on time, which I initially chalked up to Pacific time, but then it became clear there was no electricity in the building.  There were waiting for it to come back on.  To the shouted approval of the audience, the performance began, in the dimness of dusk.  A barely audible pipa player started, but it was the Chinese trumpet player that got the house rocking, with its raucous sound.  Someone decided to break out small flashlights and the trumpet player slowly gathered about 10 people around her, following her with their mini-spotlights.  The highlight for me was when the dancers, relegated to single performers that could fit in this mini-lighting, performed acrobatically to the wild enthusiasm of the crowd. The drive home consisted of weaving around fallen trees and wires.  And so I have once again arrived in the Pacific.