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Sharks, Shells and Saying goodbye

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Well it has been a crazy few days for me!

First of all, I saw and swam with my first shark! In fact I am currently one of the only few volunteers who has seen one. The other night I went out snorkeling in the dark with a few of my friends. There are generally less fish to see at night, but the ones you do see are pretty cool. During this epic swim I saw two electric eels, a spiny lobster and a small shark. At first I thought it was just a HUGE fish, but I quickly realized it looked just like the small sharks we saw in our water safety presentation. Don’t panic, this shark is small in the grand scheme of sharks and doesn’t really seem like it would bother you. Either way I decided to swim in the other direction...just in case. It was super cool.

Also I learned a couple Marshallese children’s songs that have catchy tunes and ridiculous lyrics. My favorite one translates to, “banana car, papaya car, drive hem here, sore them, wait until they get really sweet, then we will eat them together, I’m full, you’re full, I’m really, really full.” Its fun to sing with the kids who like to add in “woo’s” when there are pauses. I also learned how the women create the traditional, ornate woven art that is everywhere all over the island. The process would be difficult to explain in words without a physical representation, just trust me that it was very cool, very time consuming and has gorgeous outcomes. Hopefully I’ll get a woven masterpiece before I leave. While the girls were learning how to weave, the boys were learning how to husk and open coconuts. I tried and it was REALLY hard. If you have ever bought a coconut from the store and found it hard to open, you can’t imagine how hard it is to husk it. You slam the coconut as hard as you can against a spike in the ground and tear the outer shell off…which is easier than in sounds. Luckily, after you have slaved away getting the husk off, the fresh coconut is easy to poke a hole through the top with some kind of knife. I have been drinking fresh coconut milk every other day and its amazing, especially for a coconut fiend like me.
I also found a gem in Majuro that I’m sure I will be returning to. There is a store that sells movies and t.v shows from the United States, but at remarkably low prices. (I’m pretty sure none of it is legal and they are just burning these items on disks and selling them). I bought the entire Planet Earth series for a grand total of $10. I checked the quality when I got home and it was flawless. I cannot believe how cheap the movies are. They are anywhere from $1.50-$2.50 per dvd. I have a feeling I will be rolling in movies by the time I leave.

I’m starting to become more aware of the serious nature of the drought in the Marshall Islands. This year is an El Nino year, which usually has no effect on my life in upstate New York. However, this has a huge effect on my new home. Apparently we are currently in “monsoon season,” which I assumed meant that it would be raining all the time, every day. I brought an absurd amount of stuff to prepare me for rain filled days. This is far from the case. It rains for about 10-20 minutes every other day. Apparently, this rain season has been the biggest in years. Even with this apparent rain fill season, we run out of water pretty frequently. Each house (in Majuro) has a big tank outside the house that is designed to catch the water that is used for the sinks and toilets and any other source of running water in houses that have plumbing. Our tank has run out of water multiple times in the past few weeks, making it impossible for us to flush the toilet until the next rainfall. After the rainy season ends in December, they usually go through a few months of drought where it will hardly rain ever. This season they are expecting the worst drought in the past decade because of El Nino. I’m scared to see what that means, if this is the rainy season, the drought is going to suck. One man told me that the last drought lasted over 6 months. It’s making me really appreciate having running water at all times in the United States. It is a privilege that we take for granted, while many places in the world struggle with daily. I am lucky to be living in the city, my friends who are moving to the outer islands will be in a much more difficult and dangerous position, especially during the drought. They have had to move volunteers in years past because there wasn’t enough water or food on the island for World Teach to consider it a safe place for the volunteers to stay. Water conservation is a huge issue here and I’m starting to be even more aware of it. This is also the hottest the Marshall Islands has ever been in record-able history. The average temperature continues to climb every year, and the hotter it gets, the more noticeable the water shortage becomes. I think it is safe to say that global warming has had a huge effect on this island. I plan on going to a discussion at town hall about environmental concerns in the next few weeks, so will write more after I have heard more information. Still this is an issue that is weighing on me more so each day.

Orientation will be ending tomorrow officially and all the volunteers will begin to scatter to their various locations. I will be moving into my dorm tomorrow, along with my fellow dormmates and all the volunteers who can’t catch their plane/boat for another week or so. I’m really excited to get my own space where I can really set up my life and get some privacy. I am really sad to say goodbye to some of my friends that I have made here though, it will be a very bittersweet few days.

I also start teaching on Monday. I will find out what grade and what subject I am teaching on Monday as well… I am overwhelmed. More to come if I survive this ordeal.


Posted by gabbyfo 19:39 Archived in Marshall Islands

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