Pohnpei Part 1 - Travel and the Land
This first blog of the Pohnpei series takes a look at my travel and the land of Pohnpei. The second blog will look at the people and culture while the third blog focuses on the church and what I experienced there. The first three blogs provide perspective for the fourth and final blog that examines Christian Endeavor in Pohnpei.
I hope you enjoy this blog series as I share my extraordinary July Christian Endeavor journey!
We all know the world’s four corners hold different people, customs and traditions. Knowing this does not make experiencing these differences less incredible. I took off from Newark, New Jersey on July 8th, embarking on a trip that would take me to Pohnpei, Micronesia in the North Pacific. Only one airline, United, flies to this destination. I had two options;
1. Take the route affectionately called “The Island Hopper” early in the morning from Guam and stop in Chuuk before landing in Pohnpei
2. Fly from Honolulu, Oahu, Hawai’i to Majuro, Marshall Islands to Kwajalein, MI to Kosrae, Micronesia to Pohnpei.
The least expensive itinerary took me to Tokyo and then to Guam. Therefore, I chose option one and forty-five hours after leaving my garage, I arrived on beautiful Pohnpei!
Pohnpei belongs to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). I knew this before I began this trip. However, I thought that FSM and Micronesia were exactly the same thing. Look at a reputable map and you will see Micronesia written across the region due east of the Philippines or Southeast of Japan. The Micronesian Region and FSM are not the same thing. U.S. Territories like Guam and the Marianas as well as areas like the Marshall Islands are in Micronesia but they are not part of the FSM. The FSM has four states that are connected to its four largest islands. The four states include Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap. None of the islands has great affluence. U.S. subsidies are divided equally amongst the four states. Chuuk is the poorest since it holds seventy percent of the FSM population but only receives twenty-five percent of the U.S. subsidy.
The island itself is gorgeous. Lush vegetation and a humid environment with regular temperatures in the low 80’s allows things to grow rapidly. Coconuts literally fall to the ground and sprout roots out of their sides, before the roots go into the ground and start new trees. There are waterfall hikes all around the circular island that takes about two and a half to three hours to drive around because of roads in need of repair. There is one World Heritage or UNESCO site called Nan Madol. Nan Madol has structures made from volcanic basalt rock. Most of these rocks weigh tons, they are not native to the island, and archeologists cannot figure out how they were transported to Pohnpei. They also cannot agree on how the rocks were used to build walls over twenty feet high. Pohnpei is also famous for Stokey’s rock formation which allows people to receive a great view of the island as well as investigating WWII ruins left behind by the Japanese. Tourism has not exploded yet. It is difficult to reach, expensive to fly, and the tourism sites have not been developed to meet most traveler’s expectations yet.
Pohnpei is a beautiful location, but what makes it most beautiful is the people. In my next blog, I’ll take a look at the people and culture of Pohnpei. Look for it next Monday!