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Walking, walking….

February 22, 2013

Saipan – Wednesday, February 6

I felt much more refreshed after a normal night’s sleep, and I was ready for more walking today. I was going to head to the grocery store the soup kitchen lady on Guam had told me about, to try to talk with her relatives about possible donations, because she knew they would know of some places. But first, I knew I had cold sliced fruit waiting in the fridge and I opened the juicy bag and popped a big piece of mango in my mouth…mmmm….ugh, it was peppery and garlicky!! And not at all what the taste buds were expecting! Clearly I had missed something on the paper signs when I got these last night – and this wasn’t good at all. Luna bar to the rescue!

After a bit, I headed out, and the front desk guy offered me an umbrella – I was confused since the sky was already a hot blue, and I asked if it was supposed to rain later. He said no, the umbrella was for sun protection, and I told him my hat was in my bag, and I thought it was very kind to offer me an umbrella. And actually, a lot of ladies do use umbrellas for sun protection – we’re close to the equator and that sun is hot. A few guys do too, and some just hold papers over their head if they don’t have a hat.

I had directions to the Joetens Market, and it was less than a mile away, but when I got there and showed them the paper with the names on it, they told me those people worked at the main store about 4 miles down the road, and I thanked them and said I would just walk, and they thought it was too hot to do that. But I assured them I was used to a lot of walking, and now that I was familiar with the path by the sea, I was looking forward to the walk, and re-reading some of the signs along the way. It’s all very peaceful and serene and beautiful now, but this path is on the west coast of Saipan, by the Philippine Sea, and it’s where the US Navy invaded the island back in 1944, and it turned into one of the most savage US/Japanese battles in the Pacific. Before actually landing, the navy spent days relentlessly shelling the island, trying to force the Japanese to move, and there are some excerpts from Japanese diaries on little plaques along the way. One unknown Japanese POW wrote “Caught in…naval gunfire, the wounded and dead…increase(d)…most feared…was the naval shelling, which…reach(ed) the obscure mountain caves where….CPs were located…The feeling of everyone is ‘if they would only stop the naval shelling’.” An excerpt from a diary of an unknown Japanese soldier read “At 05:00 there was a fierce enemy air attack. I have at last come to the place where I will die. I am pleased to think that I will die calmly in true samurai style. Naval gunfire…was too terrible for words…Toward evening the firing died down, but at night naval gunfire continued as before.” To die honorably for their Emperor was the highest expectation they seemed to have. Thinking about all of this gives one a lot of food for thought.

I finally made it down to the other Joetens store, and this was a pretty big place – kind of like a Kmart. The people I wanted to see were out to lunch, and the manager wasn’t sure when they’d be back. I browsed around a bit, but they still didn’t return. I asked the manager if he knew of any food pantry or soup kitchen or meals-on-wheels sorts of places, and he told me the Office on Aging took care of the senior citizens, and that office was back in Garapon, where I’d just walked from! So, I walked the 4 miles back. I was going to go into a little market for another bottle of water when I happened to see a smoothie store, and got a pineapple, lime juice, mint lemonade smoothie that was about the best thing I’d ever tasted (or I was just really really hot and anything cold would have been good!). Recharged, I finished the walk up the hill to the Office on Aging, and explained to them what I was doing. They thought it was a wonderful idea, but since they were a fully-funded federal program, they thought the Karidat food pantry, back in Susupe (4 miles back where I just came from!), would be a better recipient because they could use whatever anyone gave them. I just couldn’t walk another 4 miles back to where I’d already been earlier – this is one of the times I wished I’d had a car! It would have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully by then, the lady in the mayor’s office back in Guam would return to work, and would be able to fax my driver’s license to the National Car Rental in Guam (they can’t fax to Saipan) and then they could get my license to the National Car Rental on Saipan! So I decided to head back to the hotel, but along the way I passed the Japan Cultural Center, which was an outdoor park, and I wandered in to look around – the were little paths all around and in full bloom the landscaping would be really pretty. This park had a memorial to the guy who helped make the Northern Mariana Islands a relatively prosperous place in the early 1900s – he was a Japanese man who figured out that the islands were ideally suited to growing sugar cane, and a good part of both Saipan and Tinian (the neighboring island) were turned into sugarcane farms. There was even a little railroad to haul things around, and the sugar cane plantations provided jobs for countless Japanese people, who lived on the island before WWII days. The Japanese people were not native to this island originally, and all this farming seemed to take over the land of the native Chamorros, who really got caught in the middle of everything. There were also some Japanese tombstones and then I walked up a short path to a beautiful little building called International House of Prayer. It was locked though.

Then I walked the long way back to the hotel – I had put on 12 miles all over the place today, and with an extra mile and a half yesterday, I’m ahead of the game as far as walking, but I’m behind with my donations, so I knew I’d really have to make some headway with that tomorrow. I was really hungry so I went to the restaurant downstairs for dinner, which is quite big with a diverse menu, modeled after its namesake on Guam. There were things on the menu like beef tripe in beef bile, pig legs and feet with liver sauce, underbellies of fish, and other stuff I couldn’t quite picture. I settled for a cashew chicken dish with their famous fried rice, and it was delicious.
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One Comment
  1. Rhonda Kendzicky permalink

    Hi Nancy! I have been catching up on some of your posts this morning. You writing is interesting and very descriptive and fun to read! I was glad to here some of your things had been recovered from the theft. I am enjoying the pictures as well!
    I have been enjoying the past week of vacation and took a trip to Traverse City to visit Kyle and Annie. Guess what….I am going to be a Grandma! I am so thrilled and excited with this news! Stopped to see Ann in Grand Rapids on the way home and her new dog Ava.
    Today I am watching the snow fall and the many birds at my feeders….vacation is almost over.
    Thinking of you often…
    Love, Rhonda

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