Monthly Archives: March 2012

Darren’s Adventures in Saipan

Although a lot has happened since my last entry there are two of my adventures that are worth noting.

ADVENTURE I: THE RING

While exploring Lao Lao Beach, I discovered a rock with a ladder attached to it that descended about 10 feet into the ocean below.  The water looked fairly deep, so I decided it would be a good place to take Janell swimming.  When I took Janell there, weeks later, the ladder was gone.  Instead, a rope hung down in its place.  I jumped into the water first to make sure it was safe, and more importantly, to find out how easy it would be to climb out.   Once in the water I discovered to my horror that the place I dove into was an under-water pit and was surrounded by sea urchins.  These urchins are the ones with long black spikes.  I also found that the movement of the tide was stronger than I thought as I had to thrash about to stay far away from anywhere I could touch bottom and get speared.  It was then that I decided that we should find a different place to swim.  As I swam toward the rope, my wedding ring slid off my finger and sunk down under the water.  I immediately dove down to try to catch it.  Just as I was about to reach it, another wave came in and washed it into a hole in some coral.  I dove down dozens of times to retrieve it, but could not get it out of the hole, especially with the waves pushing me back and forth.  Janell just laughed as I sputtered and thrashed against the tide in my futile attempts to retrieve my ring.  I finally gave up, with a vow that I would return.

Two days later, I returned with a box of tools and a professional spear-fisher (Brother Fajeron) from the ward.  As he waited on the cliff, I dove down with some pliers and for 20 minutes tried to retrieve the ring.  At that point I knew it was probably time to give up so I told Brother Fajeran that I would dive down just one more time.  After I failed that time, I told him again, “just one more time.”  After 5 more “one more times” I finally surfaced with the ring in hand.  Victory!!!

ADVENTURE II: TAPOCHAU

When we moved into the house, the owners told me that there is a trail to the mountain in the center of the island called Mount Tapochau.  My co-worker Bo and I set out to find the trail one Saturday afternoon.  with machete in hand, we stomped our way through the bush looking for a trail, but found nothing.  We hacked our way through branches and had to crawl through some places just to get by.  We continued to thrash through the jungles toward the mountain until we reached a break in the jungle.  There, we could see the tower at the top of the mountain.  Unfortunately between us and the top, there were masses of tall, thick grass.  Slashing through the jungle is one thing, but tall boonie grass is so much worse.  Machetes do literally nothing against these grasses.  Additionally you cannot see where you are walking or what kind of spiders are biting you or what kind of dead discarded body you are stomping on.  We searched for a trail through the grass, but we found none.  The top of the mountain did not look too far, so we decided to try stomping through it.  We found that through the first part, the grass was so thick that we could lift our feet to waist level and walk on top of much of the grass.  This made walking possible, but not particularly pleasant.  As we progressed, the grass just got worse.  Eventually the grass became too high to push over and stomp down, so we began shambling through it one step at a time.  By then our legs, arms, and hands were covered with cuts and scratches.  We finally made it to the top.  Tapochau has the most amazing view normally, but I think it was particularly stunning for us because we slashed our way through the jungle to get there instead of riding up in a jeep.  The picture is of me at the top of the mountain with my well worn machete on my shoulder.  We thought about waiting for some tourist to come by and beg for a ride back down, but decided against it.  Besides, who would give a ride in a remote location to two guys carrying machetes?  We ended up walking back to my house, pretty much the same way we came up.  By the time we got home we were covered with cuts and scratches and our cuts and scratches were covered with dirt and decaying plant matter.

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