Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers' Day, II

That was unexpectedly fun. I forgot that my island wasn't quite like the other islands. I see Micronesian groups all the time in the parks - groups of large and stern looking women in colorful muumuus sitting cross-legged on the ground while some guy reads at them from the Bible. It's a depressingly constant scene.

But those are the (relatively) well off islanders, the ones from the Marshalls, Pohnpei, or Chuuk Lagoon. They've been exposed to the west longer, and have built up a few more defenses. Or lost them ... the missionaries did quite a number on the main islands.

The outer islanders are back somewhere in the margins, out of sight, behind the buildings and in the shadows, and having a bit more fun. It's less bible, more beer.

It took awhile to find them. Emily's directions were weak. We're in the park. Come down and maybe you're gonna see me. The park, mind you, stretches for a mile along the beach. It took five phone calls to narrow it down. Her ancestors navigated across the Pacific. Some skills have been lost to time.

But I found them eventually. There were so many! When I moved to Hawai`i I looked for the people from Fananu, but none were here. Now? Maybe a dozen adults, and who knows how many kids. Here are my old students:

Cute, yeah? I like how they are all flashing different gang signs. My babies are all grown up. The guy on the right is Rommel, one of my close buddies from the islands. His dad was one of our island's main navigators. He knows some ... probably more than he lets on. I wanted to get him paddling, but it'll be a challenge. It was good to see him.

I didn't get a chance to get all the women in one shot, but here's Emily, her daughter, and two women whose names I hope to remember before the next party (Father's Day):

And the grinds:

Chuukese food tasted better than I recalled. From the lower left, mai (poi `ulu, pounded breadfruit, which I honestly do miss), barbecued turkey tail (basically, a chunk of grilled fat; still nasty after all these years), potato salad underneath, smoked reef fish (I don't know what kind, but it was pungent and oily like mackerel, and actually pretty good), poi (real poi, thick and chunky, and not the watered-down glop that you get at restaurants here), barbecued chicken, and a hotdog. A cheap but tasty hotdog - it had lots of filler in it, and tasted more like Irish bangers or bread pudding. It's probably the same thing, come to think of it. Missing and already down the gullet were the plantains cooked in coconut cream.

Also not in the picture was the bottle full of "hot stuff" that the guys were secretly passing around. It was jagermeister and red bull. I don't know who taught these guys jager-bombs - that was after my time.

I passed on the post-picnic drinking session in Waipahu. It might have been fun ... so maybe another time I'll go for it.

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