Every Saturday in the month of May, from 6pm to 10pm, Saipan is host to an event called “Taste of the Marianas!” Hotels, restaurants and independent vendors gather to sell food, while various organizations sponsor and offer entertainment for all to enjoy the summer!
May 19, 2011 No Comments
Okay, so here’s the story. Did you know that the Jamaican flag is the ONLY flag of the 196 or so world flags that DOES NOT have red, blue or white in it? In other words, every other flag of every other country shares the common trait of having a spot of red, a dash of blue or a smidgen of white somewhere in the design!
Well, that’s what I proudly boasted to a friend of mine recently. However, I admitted to him that I got that bit of Jamaican trivia straight from an internet email that was making the rounds, so I qualified my boast by promising to verify it on my own. And this I have done.
With a multitude of official world flag sites to choose from, I chose http://www.markfennell.com/flags/ to conduct my research. Turns out that internet email was 98.9% correct. (See for yourself!)
Jamaica’s flag is black, green and gold, and things seemed to be going quite well, until I got to Mauritania!
Mauritania’s is green and yellow. [According to wikipedia: The colors of green and gold are considered Pan-African colors. Green is also used to symbolize Islam, and the gold for the sands of the Sahara desert. The crescent and star are symbols of Islam, which is the major religion in the nation. Some writers have also speculated that green symbolizes a bright future, and growth.]
And then, there’s Libya! [According to wikipedia: The Libya Flag was officially adopted on November 11, 1977. It is the only flag in the whole world with just one single color. There are no designs, insignia or other details on the flag of Libya . The green color is the symbol for Islam which emphasizes the long devotion and respect of people to their religion. Green is also the national color of the country. The first national flag of modern Libya was adopted in 1951, when the country gained independence. The symbols and colors on the Libyan flag have constantly been changing until 1977 when the current one was adopted. The green color also stands for Gaddafi’s “Green Revolution.”
But there are two caveats!
As a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war, there are currently two entities claiming to be the government of Libya. They are the (1) Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya led by Muammar al-Gaddafi (all green flag above), and
(2) the Libyan Republic led by a National Transitional Council.
So, if you support the Libyan Republic claim of power, then their version of the Libyan flag does have red and white in it. Which would make Jamaica and Mauritania the only countries that do NOT share red, white or blue with every other country!
See also this post about the Meaning of Jamaica’s flag colours!
May 13, 2011 1 Comment
Quite a few people have recently stumbled upon my blog in search of the definition of the Jamaican patois word “cyah.” So, as a public service (and as a way of getting more visitors), I’ll do my part to help with the development of the Jamaican patois lexicon. The word cyah (pronounced key-ah, but not as two syllables) is the Jamaican pronunciation of can’t. As in, “Dem cyah find Osama bin Laden,” which, translated, would be They cannot find Osama bin Laden.
As a further public service, I’ve included an audio clip of how a Jamaican would say the above sentence. Don’t thank me, just send money.
May 8, 2011 No Comments
[Encouragement for self-published authors] While I was in China, I was contacted by Editions Bordas, a French textbook publisher requesting the rights to publish an extract of Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan, a book I co-authored with former factory worker, Chun Yu Wang, and that I published independently. (Order on Amazon
An excerpt of the request letter reads: “We are currently preparing a school book entitled Missions 1re Lycée (code 732771) which will be published in paper form in April 2011 and designed for 16-17 years old pupils….
We would like to obtain your permission to use and reproduce an excerpt taken from Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan by Chun Yu Wang (Please see below) in this textbook in all formats and for all countries…..this extract will be used for our school book by students who are studying the English language….We would be most grateful if you would grant us this permission for the period of exploitation of the textbook…. Please note that the excerpt will be used for pedagogical purposes by teachers and students in the French education system.”
We corresponded and negotiated the licensing fee via email, I provided the requested information, and now, after much anticipation, the book is finally available! Here are some images showing how the excerpt is being used. Click on image to view enlarged
In the phraseology of mentor of mine, “I share this not to IMPRESS you, but to IMPRESS UPON you…” just what is achievable even as a self-published author!
I wish much success to the publishers and to the students learning English! If you read French, (or even if not), you can learn more about the publishers at the Editions Bordas website. (Thanks to Anabelle and Audrey at Editions Bordas for their help!)
May 2, 2011 No Comments
After my ritual morning run on the beach here on Saipan, I returned to my beachfront desk to do some brainstorming for a few projects including Living True To Your Self.
As I approached my usual spot, I heard the sound of a plop of water behind me, and turned quickly to notice a second plop and what appeared to be something hitting the water from an angle that, if it had been thrown, would mean someone out in the ocean had thrown it. I was puzzled, as there was no one on the beach or in the water for as far as the eye could see.
I gazed towards where the object had entered the water, and it was then I saw something dark and mysterious near the water’s edge. (hey, didn’t someone once describe me that way?). I thought it might be seaweed, but wasn’t quite sure. I walked towards it.
As I got closer, I was delighted to discover that it was….fish! Hundreds of them. No, thousands! Several undulating black pools of small fish near the water’s edge. Doing their dance of life.
1. Something dark and mysterious by the water’s edge!
View the mysterious video!
They were so close to the sand at the edge of the water that it almost seemed as if they were about to recreate their distant ancestors’ apocryphal transition from sea dweller to land dweller right before my eyes!
But then, I heard the telltale ominous music playing in the background. [Think: Jaws, the movie]. I scanned the horizon, and then quickly discovered the reason why. About 5 or 6 feet from the frolicking school of small fish, was a larger, sword nosed fish that seemed to be enjoying the display as much as I was–but, as I was soon to learn–for entirely different reasons.
I watched as swordnose sailed out of the water and dove into the unsuspecting school of smaller fish. (Caught on film) The school dispersed for a moment in the area of swordfish’s entrance into the shallow water, a bit of chaos ensued, but things quickly returned to normal and the predator could be seen swimming away with a fresh meal in its sword mouthed grasp.
2. Swim, little fishies! Swim!! (Attack of the swordnosed fish!)
View video of attack!
A few moments later, while I was still contemplating the predator-prey paradigm as it plays itself out in life and in nature, along comes a fisherman. I thought to myself that he’d probably seen many such displays in his years of fishing along Saipan’s shores. However, he too, uttered a “wow” and stopped to watch the schools of fish.
We acknowledged each other, exchanged a few pleasantries, and soon, he did what fishermen do, and cast his net into the waters to claim and augment his own catch for the day.
As he walked past me back to his bucket with a few small fish in his net, a few of them dropped out and onto the sand. I reached down and rescued those I could and tossed them back into the water.
We were next to each other. He standing, reaching into his net, tossing fish into his bucket. Me, crouching, reaching down to the sand, tossing fish back into the water. He didn’t seem to mind. Nor did I. (I couldn’t help thinking of Elsa the lion and the movie Born Free.)
Soon, we smiled, said our goodbyes and he walked away.
I think he said they made a nice soup.
April 26, 2011 No Comments
Act quickly! This one may be gone tomorrow! Are you a writer who needs to escape the hustle and bustle and noise of city life to be creative? Do you dream of having your very own tropical island getaway with a view of the ocean to inspire you? Are you just an overworked and underpaid working person who dreams of escape? Well now you can!
Forget about expensive villas and vacation condos! All you really need is right here!
Wake to a thrilling Saipan sunrise, and after an invigorating run on the beach, (same Jamaican, different beach)
return to your office to get some work done!
Sand-colored floors (colored with real sand); Pine wood walls (provided by real pine trees); stone desk and comfortable stone chair, this open air office is just the ideal setting for your escape.
It doesn’t get any more beachfront than this, folks! Ideal for the minimalist! (However, if you want some more normal accommodations on Saipan, visit www.destinationSaipan.com
Year built: pre-civilization; desk added within last century
Living area: as far as the eye can see
Tenure: Free; Simple.
Land area: all of it
Monthly taxes: $0
April 19, 2011 No Comments
Now that I’m back on Saipan, I have time to process all the experiences and observations of my last six months in China, Laos and Singapore. The pace of life here on Saipan is a bit slower. My days are spent catching up on a lot of loose ends (answering emails, updating websites, etc.) that had been left undone during the Jamaican in China adventures.
Here on Saipan, there are secluded spots as well as not-so-secret beaches where I can sit or stroll for hours and never see another human. Admittedly, that may not be such great news for a mass-marketed tourism economy, but it’s great for getting an exlusive “ring side seat” as the sole observer of the evolution of a Saipan sunset.
April 18, 2011. Saipan’s spectacular secret sunset show begins about 6:00pm every evening
Come early grab a wooden seat.
See you tomorrow. Same time.
April 18, 2011 3 Comments
URGENT MEMO TO ALL AFFECTED PARTIES:
Somewhere in the western Pacific there exists a little island of 46.5 square miles in total size. A mere thirteen miles long by an average of 5 miles wide, Saipan, CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) is home to an indigenous population of Chamorros and Carolinians, as well as Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Australians, Americans, Russians, Canadians, Yapese, Chukese, Palauans, and other Pacific islanders. The total population of Saipan is approximately 40,000–but varies depending on whom you talk with.
8,794.6 miles away in the Caribbean Sea, exists another island of 4,411 square miles. 146 miles long by 51 miles wide, Jamaica is home to an indigenous population of Arawaks, as well as displaced Africans, Maroons, South Asian Indians, Chinese Americans and Brits who all proudly call themselves “Jamaican.” The total population of Jamaica is approximately 2.5 million.
Jamaicans can be found in every corner of the planet. This is by design. It is our job to integrate the global community to make everyone aware of our greatness. In fact, the JPDPD (Jamaican Person Dispersal Prime Directive) requires an even distribution of Jamaicans across all latitudes and longitudes and on all continents. We’ve been given the task of holding key positions in politics (Colin Powell), music (Bob Marley), sports (Patrick Ewing), revolutionary thought (Marcus Garvey), etc., and of occupying the full range of professions and industries. So it should come as no surprise that there is at least one Jamaican on the tiny, remote island of Saipan. The plan demands it.
According to said plan–the details of which remain closely guarded on a “need to know” basis– there should be at least 1 JPPM (Jamaican Person Per Million) people in every population.
However, it appears that somewhere in the Jamaican Person Dispersal Prime Directive Personnel Department [that would be the JPDPDPD], there was a miscommunication, a misdirected memo, or some type of clerical error. For on April 9, 2011, on the tiny, remote island of Saipan, CNMI, with its population of only 40,000 people, there were not the minimum requirement of one, not two, but THREE Jamaicans, all clustered in the same room!!! Furthermore, if that weren’t bad enough, TWO of them held the coveted position of airline pilot! TWO!! (We’re not quite sure about the occupation of the third one, but our investigation is continuing).
This is not an “even distribution,” people!!
Somewhere on the planet, there’s a population missing a Jamaican!! I don’t need to remind you about the ramifications of this! I want a full report on my desk by 5:00pm!
Heads will roll!
Winston Delroy Trevor Courtney Bogle, III
Policy Director, Jamaican Person Dispersal Prime Directive Personnel Department
[That would be the PD of the JPDPDPD]
(click on image to enlarge)
Friends in High Places. Ben, Ron, Walt, Cardiff and Chris. Japanese, Jamaican, Jamaican, Jamaican, Japane–Waitaminit! What the—???? Quick, get me a camera! Better yet, get me the PD of the JPDPDPD! There are more Jamaicans per capita on Saipan than, well, even in Jamaica!!
April 10, 2011 2 Comments
Now it can be told! One of the reasons I returned to Saipan specifically when I did was to arrange a special tour for a group of visiting Australians to the island of Saipan. Way back in October of 2010, while I was in Beijing, China, I received a request through my DiscoverSaipan site from Narelle M., one of the activity organizers on a 45-day Sun Princess Cruise Lines tour originating in Sydney, and then continuing to Hong Kong to Japan, a few Pacific Islands and back to Australia. (One of the beautiful benefits of running internet-based businesses is the ability to do so from any location on earth with internet access).
Narelle and I continued our communication throughout my China adventure and we built the excitement as the date approached. However, by the time the cruise kicked off in early March, Narelle was not able to be physically present on the cruise, so I continued organizing with Gaye H. As things progressed, the “Cherry Blossom Tour,” as it had been billed, had to cancel its stops in Japan due to the recent events there. However, the Pacific island leg of the tour was still on!
Most of the arrangements for transportation were made back in November (Thanks for the assist, Miki!), and as the number of interested cruise passengers increased, I had to add more and more vans to handle the ever-increasing group.
Once I returned to Saipan, I met with Scott Russell and Merced Alda of the Mariana Council for the Humanities, as well as local saipanpreneur, Catherine Perry, and Gordon Marciano of PDI, who graciously helped pull things together in the few days before the ship was to arrive.
I wanted to offer our visitors a Saipan experience unlike the standard “big bus, big guns” tour most visitors receive. I wanted to show them the Saipan I fell in love with: the fantastic scenery, the local culture, the warm-hearted residents, and simple daily lifestyle that make Saipan a secret paradise and coveted escape from the ills of modern living. For that, I would need to assemble a special team.
Both Catherine and Scott suggested “Uncle” Lino Olapai as a representative of Saipan Carolinian culture (Lino is author of a book entitled The Rope of Tradition, which can be ordered here; Saipan residents may purchase at Bestseller Books), and John Castro as a representative of things Chamorro.
John (left), Lino and I meet at Java Joe’s a few days before to discuss the tour
My friend, Norman Xing, suggested a Chinese NMC liberal arts student and former tour bus driver who would also be part of the team.
And, to add some feminine energy to the team, John recruited Catherine Shai, homemaker and former cultural dancer.
I awoke on the morning of Tuesday, March 5, 2011, to an auspicious Saipan sunrise. The past three days had seen rain and overcast weather which, if it continued, would threaten the fun and excitement of my Saipan in a Day Tour.
The sunrise on the actual morning of the tour.
We learned a day or two before that, due to an issue with a faulty engine, the ocean liner was delayed and scheduled to arrive at 11:45am.
Vans are picked up…Thanks, Cheryl and Jenny at Microl Toyota!
More vans are picked up…Thanks Layer and Monica at Hertz!
The team met, vans were picked up, logistics were arranged, and all was proceeding well.
The A team: Chamorro Korean Catherine, Chamorro John, Carolinian Lino, Chinese Tom, Jamaican Walt
Thanks Doug! Great Photo!
By 11:00am, the ship could be seen making its final approach to Saipan
We arrived at the dock, and as the members of our 3-van/1-SUV caravan waited for our turn to enter the restricted area, a torrential downpour began at about 12 noon!
Storm clouds gather ominously
After about half hour of rain, the clouds began to pass and we were able to see breaks of blue sky coming in from the south. I knew this would be a good day!
By the time the passengers started to alight, the sky over Saipan was a stunning blue!
We met our group, headed out to my favorite spot, did our special welcome, and did our thing!
Lino leads the group of visitors towards our vans
Welcome, introductions, flowers, mwars and the fun begins!
As I told the visiting Aussies (and New Zealanders and at least two Americans): There is only ONE Lino Olopai on Saipan, and we’ve got him! If you want local expertise on Chamorro culture, there’s only ONE John Castro, and we’ve got him on our tour too! I assured them, that once they returned to the ship and compared notes with the other passengers, they would have had an experience like no other!
Looking on intently
I’ll have to keep some of our Secret Saipan tour, well… a secret, you understand, but I’ll just say that based on the feedback we received, as well as the happy goodbyes, a good time was had by most!
An adventurous ten took Walt’s trek to the best scenic spot on Saipan
Sacred spots and more!
As it was requested by some of our guests, we decided to incorporate some of the big guns into their experience
Next to a big bus….”Ok, where do we go next?”
Lino holds court at the Micro Beach Pavilion….history, culture and more!
As the evening drew to a close, I noted to myself that the cloudy evening sky obscured one of Saipan’s greatest assets: the famous Saipan sunset. However, almost on cue, even with an invisible sun, some streaks of hot pink emerged to color the sky and water in front of Micro Beach seemingly just for the benefit of our guests. It lasted no more than 5 minutes, but was enough to elicit some oohs and ahhs from the crowd, and provide a nice end to a special day!
Sunset makes a special brief appearance just for us.
We dropped our visitors back at the dock and said our goodbyes….You should have been there!
And thus concludes The Short Happy Tale of the 41 Australians, the two Chamorros, the Carolinian, the Chinese, and the Jamaican on Saipan!
April 5, 2011 No Comments
That’s what the Immigration agent in Guam asked me, as he leafed through my passport when I landed, on my way to Saipan. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him: “Pretty women, nicer weather.”
So, what am I doing on Saipan? Well, for now, I’m staying with a friend while I look for a new apartment. I also have an event coming up on April 5th that I’ll tell you more about as the date approaches.
In the mean time, I’m just basking in the heat and sunshine, enjoying the scenery, reconnecting my cell phone, reconnecting with friends, and chopping open coconuts.
Thailand-style veggie meal! I’m so lucky!
March 30, 2011 No Comments
How dare you assume that the Jamaican in China adventure is over!?!! I’ve gotten emails that say, among other things, “I’ll miss your emails,” “When are you coming/going back?” etc.
Does that mean you think I have nothing interesting to say or experience if I’m not Jamaican in China??? Shame on you!
I’m offended! I’ll have you know–thank you very much–that my life and commentary can be just as compelling, creative and captivating whether I’m in Kunming or Croatia!
With that said, I’m now Jamaican on Saipan! Now my friends in China will get a perspective of my life outside of China. So, first order of business (bear with me if you know this), is to let you know where Saipan is located. I’ll borrow a map from my friend, Mike Tripp’s website, The Underwater World of Saipan.
Saipan is located in the western Pacific Ocean, about a 3.5 hour flight from Japan, and about 5 hours direct to Beijing. It’s in a region known as Micronesia. It’s the capital island of a 15-island chain officially known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI, for short).
I first moved to Saipan after my Escape from New York in 2006. I chronicled that escape and a lot of general Saipan information in my book, Jamaican on Saipan. You can also read more on Saipan’s wikipedia page. (I’m honored to say I’m mentioned on that wikipedia page as co-author of a book titled Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin, which chronicles a period in Saipan’s recent history. You can also get an eclectic overview of life on Saipan by visiting the WeLoveSaipan.com site.
Let the adventure, um, resume!
March 30, 2011 No Comments
So, if you read the previous installment, then I’m sure you’re wondering if my passport with my China visa came in sufficient time for me to leave for my trip….Well, first I’ll say that I’m a “go with the flow” type person, and when things happen that would disappoint your average nomad, I look for the hidden benefit or guidance in the situation, and take it all in stride… With that said, to answer your question…
YES!!!!…. GOT IT!!!
On Wednesday it was still in Pago Pago, American Samoa, then, it had to go back to Honolulu, then to Guam, then to its destination, Saipan!
And the reason it happened, I surmise, was simply to give me a little suspenseful story to tell! For those of you who followed my escape, return and subsequent re-escape from America in the book, Jamaican on Saipan, you’ll know that there’s ALWAYS some mlittle last-minute drama that “threatens” to derail the my adventures!
On the contrary, this trip to China had been amazingly seamless and smooth!
Once I realized I had a friend in Beijing, I found a Saipan-direct-to-Beijing ticket timed perfectly to fit my calendar, sold my car in less than 24 hours from the moment I decided to, etc. Yes, everything was easy as pie! Eerie. Then, my ticket ends up in Pago Pago, American Samoa! (Tell you the truth, I was actually quite relieved when the drama hit!)
As my friend, Stacey, commented on my American Samoa post:
And so it has!
Yes, fear not, erstwhile reader. As my good friend, Erroll Paden, used to say: “I ain’t goin’ out like that!”
So, even before my passport arrived in hand, I spent the last few days on the island of Saipan saying goodbye to key people, returning, donating, and giving away more items like my bicycle, trampoline*, my juicer (that was an emotional one), and finding a new home for my favorite plant (Thanks, Ashley!)
I’m scheduled for departure late, late, late on Sunday, so….by the time you read this……I’ll already be in China….unless, of course, um…something unforeseen happens!
August 30, 2010 No Comments
Subject: Jamaican in China–You sent my passport where???? American Samoa????!
Date: August 26, 2010 3:00:55 PM GMT+10:00
So, it’s Thursday, August 26. I’m scheduled to leave for China on Sunday night…August the 29th. For some mysterious reason, my passport hasn’t arrived yet, so I decided to check the USPS site to see if there is any information. Shouldn’t be an issue, I think to myself, I’ve received Express Mail packages from the states many times without delay.
So, anyway, I enter the tracking number, and lo, and behold…my passport is in American Samoa!
According to the usps.com site:
Your package has been missent, and every effort is being made
to get it to you as quickly as possible.
Missent, August 23, 2010, 1:39 pm
Missent, August 23, 2010, 5:51 am
Notice Left, August 23, 2010, 5:10 am, PAGO PAGO, AS 96799
Arrival at Post Office, August 23, 2010, 5:06 am, PAGO PAGO, AS 96799
Processed through Sort Facility, August 20, 2010, 10:22 am, HONOLULU, HI 96820
Processed through Sort Facility, August 19, 2010, 8:04 pm, KEARNY, NJ 07032
Electronic Shipping Info Received, August 17, 2010
So, just to put things into perspective, here: The flight I’m booked on is the last outgoing flight of a limited series of special charter flights direct from Saipan to Beijing. The ticket is non-refundable. There are no other flights to Beijing from Saipan. My car is sold. My apartment lease is up. My friend in Beijing is ready to pick me up as planned…. AND….someone in Pago, Pago has my passport and I need it in 2 days or else the whole trip is kaput! If it doesn’t arrive by 12 noon Saturday (the last day of mail delivery for the week), then I won’t be able to get it until the post office opens up for business at 9am Monday morning.
Ahhh, what would life be without a little suspense and drama?
August 26, 2010 No Comments
A little over four years ago, I wrote the first “Freedom Song” just prior to my escape from America and my move to Saipan. (If you weren’t on my friend’s list then, you can read it at Walt’s Escape from America!
My move to Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, in 2006 ranks in the top 3 best decisions I’ve made in my life! I’ve never been happier with the climate, the culture, and the cuties! I’ve met many great people, wrote several books, started a tourism business, and felt that I was contributing through my weekly column in the Saipan Tribune, which is now in its 220th consecutive week.
One of my proudest moments was receiving an official CNMI Senate Resolution No. 15-54 in recognition of my contributions to Saipan, its residents and economy.
As I said during the original Freedom Song, “Ever since leaving corporate America in the fall of 1995, I’ve been executing a plan to create the lifestyle of a modern, minimalist, nomadic, passionpreneur based on a passive-residual income stream!” In other words, I want to be able to see the world and not have to worry about getting a job in the places I decide to reside.
p.s. I visited China once before in 2009, and vowed to return (see jamaicaninChina.com download below). I leave in a week for Beijing, with plans this time to visit Shanghai, Hainan (a tropical island off the south coast of China), and other countries in the region including Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. If you have any friends or contacts in the region, please do put me in touch. It makes the experience much nicer for me.
p.p.p.s *let me know if you need the “Lucas” reference explained. I’d be more than happy to!
August 22, 2010 No Comments