This post is the "I love Saipan" post. But I don't *love* Saipan...I like it okay enough. Maybe it is because I didn't grow up here, I don't have familial ties here and I don't dive. And the fact that it is eleventy thousand miles away from home, and a plane ticket to Chicago is roughly $2,000.
But, read on...it really isn't that bad. The things that I don't like are all pretty superficial and have the potential of being changed.
All of the pictures in today's post are pictures I took of things in our yard.
Isn't he cute? He is the guard outside of our gate.The things that I do love about Saipan:
- The sun is almost always shining.
- The skies are so clear at night and the moon shines so brightly that you don't really need lights outside.
- Gorgeous flowers everywhere you look.
- The vast majority of the local people are super nice and friendly.
- I have a banana tree in my yard that actually has bananas on it!
- If you forget a birthday or important date back home, you have an extra day to make up for it (since we are 16 hours ahead of CST).
- The farmer's market on Saturday mornings.
- From any point on the island, you are never more than 10-15 minutes from the beach.
- The hospitality of the people here. When you go to a gathering, you had better hope that you have room in your refrigerator at home because they won't let you leave there without a bag full of foil covered plates full of food.
- Chicken Kelaguen and the homemade flat bread.
- Mango season...I almost make myself sick on them.
- Red rice.
- Slower lifestyle once you are out of the tourist district. Even there it is not so fast.
- The gorgeous view of the lagoon coming down Capitol Hill road on a clear day.
- The fact that the politicians seem to be regular people. The day we arrived, we got picked up at the airport and taken to lunch at Coffee Care. Guess who sat down at the table right next to us? None other than the Grand Poohbah himself, the Governor. I had no clue who he was until we left and were told.
- The beach that DH & I go to. On nice days, the water is crystal clear and so warm and calm that it feels like I am lazing about in a giant bathtub.
- No Wal-Mart. Yay!
- I rarely hear sirens. The crime rate here is pretty low.
- Only 2 fast food places here, Mc Donald's and Kentucky F*$#ing Pigeon. Well, 3 if you count Subway. Easier to resist temptation. : ) But I do miss Wendy's.
- A gallon of real milk is almost $10 so I have to drink the UHT boxed stuff from New Zealand.
- Expiration dates aren't routinely checked. DH made himself a drink the other day with a Diet Coke and complained that it was flat. Then looking at the ingredients, he said..."Hey, didn't they change over to Splenda?" Guess what the date on the bottom of the can was? 2004. And the pisser is that we can't remember where we bought the case from.
- Gas is crazy expensive (I think it is $3.13 right now for regular).
- Utility rates are absolutely insane. We pay something like 22 cents per kWh. Thank goodness that we conserve energy and use less than 250 kWh per month.
- You can't brush your teeth with the tap water. We use bottled and refill a Nalgene bottle every couple of days. Tap water here is non-potable.
- The boonie dog population is out of hand. I bet the tourists love seeing the dogs hanging around Garapan.
- Getting things shipped here is difficult. Everyone thinks it is a foreign country and tries to charge higher rates when they could just send it via USPS. We do have a US zip code.
- The government needs young, energetic, fresh ideas. Basically it needs a serious overhaul and to get out of the current mindset.
- The citizens need to be more open to changing their way of thinking as well instead of predicting "doom and gloom".
- People here seriously DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DRIVE. Rolling stop. check. The Saipan pull-out (which we were warned about before coming here). check. No turn signals. check. Stopping in front of a large puddle in the road so that you can wait for oncoming traffic to pass so you can go in the other lane to avoid the water. check.
- Fresh fruits (like berries, etc.) are crazy expensive. When you can find decent ones.
- The power outages. Thankfully we haven't had one in a week or so. The rolling blackout thing was a serious PIA and I hated it.
- The weather. Perpetual summer is rough on me at times. I am after all, a Midwestern girl. I need 4 distinct seasons.
- Betel nut chewing. It is almost impossible to understand someone that has a betel nut in their mouth. Let alone pay attention to anything other than their disgusting teeth from the betel nut chewing.
- Mold. It is the bane of my existence and keeps me busy.
This is a "sweet almond" tree that we got at an energy fair a couple of months ago.
This is a papaya tree in our yard...too bad neither of us like fresh papaya.
I know that there are more things that I really don't like, but I can't think of them. I do think that Saipan has alot of potential though. It will take much effort, but with the right people in place and a firm plan of action, anything is possible. I would like to come back to visit in 15 or 20 years and see how the island has changed.
We have only been on Saipan since the end of March 2006, so we are still learning things everyday. Currently we are set to move back to the States in June 2008.
If you want to know more about Saipan, I suggest you start here:
(click on button)
Just don't trust everything that you may read on a Google search.