My boyfriend and I found out just about three weeks ago that we were both being offered year-long commercial diving contracts in the Marshall Islands. I had the idea of documenting our once-in-a-life-time adventure year early on, from start to finish, but between packing up our rental house in Ocean City, figuring out our lease, selling our Hobie cat, selling/storing the cars and motorcycle, shipping boxes and surf boards, a last minute trip to New Orleans, paperwork, doctors visits, and saying goodbye to so many amazing friends and beloved family members (and the resulting hangovers from goodbyes), I never got the time to put everything together. Nevertheless, day 4 1/2 on the island isn’t too bad in my opinion. So here we go.
We had a layover in Honolulu after about twelve hours of flying, then flew the remaining seven hours the next day. I read somewhere that if you were to draw a triangle between Japan, Australia, and Hawaii, right in the middle would be the Marshall Islands. We are far, far away from other places. Even though my back was on fire from sitting in what apparently pass for airplane seats these days, the star-strewn nights and crystal-clear water make the trip well worth the pain.
Getting off the plane felt very surreal in my hazy jet lag. The island feels like a tropical snow globe, small and isolated and perfectly made. Old buildings stand next to the newly built, old bikes rust next to the freshly assembled, deeply tanned expats smile at the pale, sweating new arrivals. After settling in to our rooms at the man camp, we walked into town, which made us blister and realize why everyone rides bikes. We bought some in boxes just as the store was closing and impatiently put them together in an alleyway. We greeted an old friend and made new friends of the rest of the crew drinking scotch on the steps of their rooms. We went to a bar named something else, but only called the snake pit. In the dark we talked and drank cheap beer and asked every question we could think of. On the ride home my backpack strap caught in the back wheel and I did a slow sideways tip over onto grass and used the chance to look up at the millions of stars visible in Pacific pitch black.
The island is only about six square miles shaped like a crescent, but it felt much bigger than that when we rode from end to end the next morning. Atrophied bike muscles were screaming as we pedaled against a strong headwind, but excitement and curiosity drove us forward. Every new white and turquoise beach, every rusted piece of machinery spending years in the waves, every palm tree dropping coconuts, every person we passed on the golf course next to the air strip, everything is new and shiny and amazing. The sun is strong throughout the day and it burns through sunscreen as you sweat it off.
I didn’t want to start work as soon as we did, but even that was perfect and island-mellowed. But even great jobs are still jobs and I have a long list of things to do this year and so few days to do them all. That is my only complaint so far, so I think this is going to be a good fit. I hope to write at least once a week to share pictures and adventures with whoever will read. Bear with me and I’ll get a better grasp on posting. Thanks!