Tag Archives: Saipan

The Evolution of a Saipan Sunset

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.

Friends in High Places…skewing the distribution

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 McFarlane, 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!!

The short happy tale of 41 Australians and the Jamaican on Saipan!

Now it can be told!  One of the reasons I returned to Saipan from China 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?”


Bird island


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!


What’s up with Saipan?

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!

“It’s not over!” said the Jamaican back on Saipan.

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!


Ah, well…everything happens for a reason

Subject:   Jamaican in China! –Oh, well…everything happens for a reason
From:      walt@jamaicaninchina.com
Date: August 30, 2010 10:48:21 AM GMT+10:00

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…

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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:

“Another amazing piece of your journey!!  It would be unusual if something didn’t happen.  LOL! You know it will work out, Walt! It always does!”

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!)

*Rule No 478 of the Nomadpreneur’s Handbook: No trampolines in the duffel bag.

Thursday Street Market, one last time….

Saipan Tribune editor, Jayvee Vallejera, my good email buddy for 225 consecutive weekly articles!  (an unbroken streak since April 2006!) Thanks for everything, Jayvee!

Angel and Lino at the Sabalu Market, my Saturday morning people-watching buddies. Hey, Mel!

Saturday night into Sunday morning I had a great time dancing at GIG with someone who shall remain nameless and faceless…

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!

(but, I think I’ve met the quota for this departure)
~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
With a whoosh and flutter of the cloak of night
This nomad departs, then is out of sight…
~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~^^^^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[cue the music: “See the World” by Gomez…..fade to silence]
#####

You sent my passport where????

Subject: Jamaican in China–You sent my passport where???? American Samoa????!

From: walt@saipanliving.com

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.
passport woes saipan


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?

Jamaican in China!–In the beginning!

NOTE: Each page of my China adventure that you will read is an actual email that I send to my mailing list. This was the first email I sent just before beginning my adventure, that I sent to a small list of friends, family and clients. Enjoy, and thanks for taking this journey with me!--Walt


Subject:   from Walt…drum roll, please
From: walt@saipanliving.com
Date: August 22, 2010 8:27:10 PM GMT+10:00
Hope all is well with you.

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!

walt fj goodridge on saipan escape from america jamaican on saipan

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.

Ah, but it seems it’s that time again.

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.

Well, the nomad part is acting up again. So, with that said, I offer you, on August 22, 2010: (drum roll, please….)
FREEDOM SONG, PART II
My Freedom Song continues
with a new exciting verse
A life afar has beckoned
and I want to tell you first!
This nomad’s bell again has tolled
I answer and take wing
I’ve set my sights on China!
and the city of Beijing
The ticket’s bought, the visa’s done
I’ve got a place to rest
I’ve minimized and digitized
reduced all I possessed
They ask, “What will you do there?”
and, “What put you on this course?”
“A man named Lucas,” I reply*
“Just going to the source!”
I’ve learned the basic language
and I’ve made a friend or two
Just waiting for the date now
and the day I bid adieu
So, wish me well and please stay tuned
Me? Nervous? Nope. Well, kinda…
but you know me, I’ll prosper
in my brand new life in China!
(thought I wouldn’t find a rhyme for China, didn’t you?)
Walt

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.s. My skype account is “waltonsaipan”

p.p.p.s *let me know if you need the “Lucas” reference explained. I’d be more than happy to!

Me and Buddha on a previous trip jamaican in china 2009 adventure ebook cover