The next day being a Sunday, there wasn’t much expected for activity. Which was a good thing, since we needed some time to sleep in and get acclimated to the Kosraean time zone.
Sundays on Kosrae are considered a day of rest. Nobody is expected to do anything, except go to church, and spend the time at home with family, resting. Swimming and other physical activities are discouraged, as are most social gatherings. Until recently, cooking on Sunday was frowned up on as well, the expectation being that all cooking was done on Saturday night. The traditional dish for Sunday is the Kosraean fish soup, something we were able to enjoy several times during our trip.
On our first Sunday, we slept in, and took a look outside.
The view from our room.
You can see that it’s somewhat cloudy, somewhat sunny. That was consistent for our experience of weather for the entire trip. Yet something else I should have expected – it’s a tropical island, so it gets lots of rain – what I failed to realize that that meant that it probably got rain every day. It was pretty rare during our time on Kosrae where we had a day where it was sunny all the time. More likely than not it would be beautiful in the morning, then cloud over and rain in the afternoon, and then clear a bit in the evening, or the reverse of that – be cloudy in the morning, and then clear up and be beautiful in the afternoon. But no matter what, odds are that at least half the day it would be sunny. (I almost said beautiful and sunny, but Kosrae is beautiful no matter what the weather.)
Since it was a rest day, we decided to walk to Christina’s house to visit with her family again – I think we’d been less than stellar company the night before because we were so tired. Christina offered to call Aliksa to come pick us up, but since it was only about a mile or so down the road, we figured we could walk.
I should probably also talk about the road. There is literally one road in Kosrae. It starts on the northern end of the island at the airport, circles up by Tafunsak, and then comes down the eastern edge of the island all the way down to Utwe. There is a branch that goes across to Lelu island. There’s perhaps 20 miles worth of road for the whole island.
So, in walking a mile up the road, there’s little danger in getting lost.
It was on this walk that I started to fully appreciate the poverty that is prevalent in Kosrae. Even taking into account the climate (mild weather, all the time), the houses are very bare. Extremely simple structures, mostly made of concrete, sometime cinderblocks. There are windows, which may or may not have glass panes. We learned over the course of our trip that while electricity is available, it is typically used only for refrigeration and lighting because it is so expensive.
In no particular order, here are the sights we saw on the way to Christina’s house.
This is common – tombs in the front yards of houses. This is apparently an abandoned one; the newer ones have fences around them and roofs overtop.
Another sight that we found prevalent in Kosrae are all the dead cars. It’s an unusual sight for a house not to have at least one dead car in the front yard. It’s a theme congruent with the one thing I did not like about Kosrae: all the litter and trash that one would find in random areas just flung about on this beautiful island.
This example below is an extreme example of the cars, but conveys the idea.
It also was not uncommon to see cars almost reclaimed by the jungle.
Many times, the cars are in better shape than the houses. This makes sense to me, since transportation is important on Kosrae. At first blush, I was surprised that more people didn’t bike around the island. But considering the variability of the weather, it’s nice to arrive anywhere you want to go somewhat dry 🙂
Along the road there were houses on one side, beaches on the other. Roy was fascinated by the coral that could be found on the beaches.
This sight was also not unusual. It’s not clear whether this had been being built, and then abandoned, or had been lived in and then left. In either case, it made for a good photo op.
More sights along the road:
There were also signs of houses that had once been, but were no longer.
Houses came in all forms.
As we got close to Christina’s house, we came to the Phoenix Inn. It’s a hotel that has been abandoned; it’s now a popular place for family gatherings and picnics. Christina told us she often liked to climb to the roof to stretch after a run. So up to the roof we went.
And finally……we made it to Christina’s beach! We’d seen it in so many pictures on her blog, it was great to finally be there.
We were greeted by part of Christina’s cheering section, Padme and Chubs.
After doing some beachcombing, we visited with Christina’s family for a while. They are such lovely, gracious people, and hopefully we were better company than we had been the night before.
Our intent had only been to pop in, say hello and chat for a while, but we noticed that as soon as we appeared, everyone seemed to drop everything and before we knew it they had drinks and snacks and everything laid out for us. It was lovely and so very thoughtful.
The night before, they had presented us with a home made thank you card before dinner – thanking us for everything (which in actuality, hadn’t been much – we sent a few presents at Christmas as well as few things we knew the family liked). We also knew that Cia had arranged to have a welcoming feast for us in the next week when we would get to meet the whole family.
We also knew that it was Kosraean custom to share everything you can with visitors. That being said, it made both Roy and I somewhat uncomfortable that the family would drop everything and feel that they needed to serve us every time we were there. For that reason, for the rest of the trip we kept our visits relatively brief. It wasn’t our intent to disrupt their lives, we just wanted to share little slices of both Christina’s and their lives. I hope they didn’t think us rude; we just didn’t want to get in the way.
In typical Kosraean weather, as soon as we got to the house, it started to rain. We visited with the family for a while, got to know them a bit better, and then gratefully accepted Aliksa’s offer to drive us back to the Treelodge.