Tag Archives: Pagan

Jamaican on Pagan: First Farewell!

On the final day of the Pagan adventure, we pack our gear and say our goodbyes…

JR, Ern (boat captain) and Sandy share a few laughs

We head north up the west coast of the island and circle

down the east side…

passing the southern end of the island

Pagan in the mist

The dolphins gave a brief send off as flying fish also escorted us on our way!

Dolphin and flying fish send off!

Final look at  Pagan

As I take my final look at the amazing island of Pagan and settle in for the 18-hour sail back to Saipan, I know there is more to come. There’s much of the island I didn’t get to see and experience. There’s more of the history of the island, the story of the 1981 volcanic eruption, the lives of the displaced residents, the story of the resettlement efforts, the US Navy’s plans for using the island for war games as well as more of the lifestyle and ecosystems on the island! So much more, in fact, that I’ve vowed to return to help tell the story in its entirety. There are still interviews and photos I haven’t blogged about, as well as the unique contribution of a Saipan resident and well-wisher (Atty. Joe Hill) to the island’s new era of ecotourism! All this and more shall be told over the next few months here on this blog as well as in other media, including, perhaps…wait for it….wait for it…a book! (You knew it was bound to happen!) Stay tuned!

“…to boldly go where no Jamaican has gone before!”

[Bob Marley painting by Analee Camacho Villagomez]
More to come? 

NOTE ABOUT THE FLIES: Before I embarked on my Pagan adventure, people on Saipan were warning me: “I hope you like flies!” “Watch out for the centipedes!” As a result I bought a special hat with netting and high-top sneakers in preparation.

Well, I can now report that–for whatever reason–there are no flies on Pagan! Of course, if you chop up freshly-killed boar and cow, or prepare a meal out in the open on any tropical island, they’ll come uninvited. However, the great infestation that people have associated with Pagan (co-captain Waki told me that the last time he took the trip, “As far as three miles out at sea, the ship was still covered with flies!”)–that level–at least as of April 2014–is no more! It is now the stuff of legend!

And while one fellow did get bitten by a centipede while I was there, I personally only saw ONE centipede the entire time I was there! (and that one was in a crate, caught by someone who wanted to show me how big they grew!)

So, pack your bags, leave your fly fears and centipede cautions behind and take a trip to Pagan!

Make sure you didn’t miss any of the adventure: Visit Jamaican In China! and check out the China, Singapore, Laos and St. Thomas adventures if you missed them!

Discover about the military’s plans for the island at


Learn more about Chamorro people and culture at


Book your own adventure to Pagan at


View my slideshow at

Jamaican on Pagan DAY 4: Dolphins and such

Jamaican on Pagan DAY 4: Dolphins and such

By day four and five of my adventure on Pagan, I’ve got my routine down. I get up before sunrise and head to the north bay. Sandy had told me there’s something to watch every day about 7:00am.

While I wait, I take care of a few things…

Shave and shampoo on the north bay

Take a run on the beach…

Jamaican on the black sands of Pagan island


Click here to see video

Then, sure enough, like clockwork, at 7:00am, a school of dolphins arrives at the north bay for some frolicking!


Dolphin pirouette off the coast of Pagan

Click here to see it in video


Later, I head back to the boat to take a real shower!


back to Pagan…

Hang out with and interview 60% of the current population of the island…

Me and the boys! JR, Tyron and Jun


Take in more of the island…


Japanese monument erected during the 1970s


Take a walk through the woods


If it all gets too exciting, I take a break in my budget accommodations on Pagan….


and wait for yet another calming Pacific sunset….


Sunset on Pagan


Tomorrow, we head back to Saipan!

View my slideshow at

Jamaican on Pagan DAY 3: Meet the Pioneers

PAGAN IS NOT UNINHABITED. There are people on Pagan!

According to Wikipedia:

“Pagan is a volcanic island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, belonging to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Formerly inhabited, the inhabitants were evacuated due to volcanic eruptions in 1981.”

True, but what the current conventional wisdom doesn’t tell you is that some people have moved back to the island! The resettlement has begun!

Pagan is not “uninhabited. There are people on Pagan.

There are people hunting, farming, making crafts, playing music, living and enjoying the life of their ancestors…There are people who have dreams of a life for their children and with plans to raise them close to the land and culture.

Pagan is not “uninhabited. There are people on Pagan.

I’ve been to the island. I’ve met those people….and now you will too:

Here is a brief interview I conducted with the 5 residents of Pagan explaining who they are and why they’ve chosen to start new lives on this remote island:

If youtube not available in your country, click here

Yes, there are people on Pagan. There are people hunting, farming, making crafts, playing music, living and enjoying the life of their ancestors, dreaming of a life for their children…and listening to Bob Marley on their ipods!

It’s always been a cool thing–as a Jamaican nomad–to arrive in Hawaii, Saipan, Pohnpei, Guam and pretty much the world over to discover that Reggae music–Jamaica’s signature gift to the world–is enjoyed by millions thousands of miles away from the little island on which it originated.  So, while it wasn’t a surprise, it was still a pleasant reminder of that reality when I entered a home on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific, and was greeted by a huge painting of Bob Marley, Jamaica’s prime musical ambassador. Yes, it seems another Jamaican has beaten me here to Pagan!

Jun (left) shows off his spondylus shells while Tyron tunes his guitar

Here’s a video of the pioneers taking a musical interlude

If youtube not available in your country, click here
Tyron plays guitar, Jun (Daniel) provides backing vocals and JR (Herman) looks on while Bob Marley watches over a summer afternoon musical interlude on the island of Pagan. 

Yes, there are people on Pagan.


Pagan = 18.53 square miles in size
Manhattan = 33.77 square miles in size
Saipan= 44.55 square miles in size

What’s it like to be the five people living on an island half the size of Manhattan? What do you do all day? Well, for one thing, you’ve got to eat.

In this video, Jun (Daniel) demonstrates an easy-to-follow, step-by-step method for getting and preparing coconuts on the island of Pagan!

If youtube not available in your country, click here
Yes, there’s a lot to do….

…enjoy the view..

enjoy the view some more

…ponder the insanity of civilization…”I want to live a natural life with no need for money.”–JR

…Go hunting with the dogs

Relax in Paradise

Welcome visiting Jamaicans…

Chamorros, Champinos, Palauans and Jamaicans on Pagan

[Bob Marley painting by Analee Camacho Villagomez]

Enjoy the sunset on Pagan

And thus ends my third day on the island of Pagan!


Twenty-three seconds of a day in the life on Pagan



Learn more about Chamorro people and culture at


Learn about the threats to the pristine beauty and life on this island at https://www.savepaganisland.org

Support the alternative: sign up for a unique “Ecotourism Instead” adventure to Pagan at https://www.DiscoverPagan.com

Jamaican on Pagan Day 2: In the name of Jamaica!

DAY 2: In the name of Jamaica!

What if Chuck Noland were Jamaican?  I think abut these things. Remember the movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks as Fedex employee, Chuck Noland? His plane crashes off a deserted island in the middle of nowhere and Chuck, as the lone survivor, has to figure out how to stay alive. Great movie. Well, what if the same fate befell a Jamaican castaway? How would the story be different?

Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Castaway

Well, for one, our Jamaican castaway would already know how to open a coconut, so that wouldn’t be a major challenge to survival. Two, his best friend would probably be a soccer ball rather than a volley ball if he had his way.

I can see it now! Walt Goodridge as Dexter Style in “Jamaican Castaway on Pag-an” coming soon to a theatre near you!


In any case, I’ll leave you to ponder those possibilities (please contact me for the movie rights) while I continue with my real life adventure!

Yes, I am now Jamaican on Pag-an! (standing on the black sand of the north bay)

On my first full day on Pag-an, I meet Sandy, better known as the “chief” of Pag-an! I’ll share more about him and the four other residents of the island a bit later. For now, Sandy was nice enough to welcome me to the island and give me a brief tour..

Sandy, the chief of Pag-an


First stop: a high point in plain sight from which to plant the Jamaican flag and claim this island in the name of the people of Jamaica!! This one is for the record books! Walt Goodridge is the first Jamaican to set foot on the Pacific island of Pag-an! That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

Jamaica claims Pagan!

Let the ecotourism begin! Bring your own flag and discover Pag-an for yourself! 


Next, a few historical sites. Until I started doing WWII tours of Saipan and Guam, I had no idea how widespread the Pacific conflict had been. It touched practically every island in Micronesia. Most of these islands were occupied by the Japanese at that time. Here on Pag-an, too, there were once at least 8,000 Japanese and about 300 indigenous I’m told.

Japanese “Zero” a crashed fighter plane on Pag-an

The black rock is cooled lava. When the volcano on Pag-an erupted in 1980, this is where the flow stopped, just a few feet from this WWII relic

70 years later, huge craters from the aerial bombing of the island still remain.

Sidebar: While we were there, a helicopter arrived with a member a team of researchers monitoring the seismic activity of the volcano.


Well, we’ve been here for a while now. Curious to meet the 5 residents of the island of Pag-an? Want to know what modern-day pioneer life is like on a little island in the middle of the Pacific?  Let’s approach their homes…

Well, actually, let’s wait until tomorrow for that!! Stay tuned!

NEXT! DAY 3: WHAT??? Another Jamaican?????


View my slideshow at https://www.discoverpagan.com

Miss the beginning?

The “Jamaican on Pagan” Series
Day 3 Meet the pioneers

Jamaican on….wait for it…wait for it….PAGAN!

DAY 1: The Cure for Seasickness
Riza, Harald, Wayne and Ken all gave great advice and tips for combatting seasickness. However, the best advice so far was from Gus:

“hey Walt, Marijuana could probably help.  Unfortunately, it’s not legal. Whenever you feel nauseous, it’s best to lay flat on your back.  It also helps to grab some fresh air at a spot where you don’t have to smell the diesel fuel/engine’s exhaust.  Eat hours before your departure and try to relax during the voyage. Enjoy. gus :D”

So, I took his advice, got some weed, and, um—just kidding! The advice that worked for me was to simply lie on my back whenever I felt a little nauseous. Fortunately, I didn’t have to use that tip until halfway through the 18-hour boat ride to the island of Pagan!

That’s right! At this very moment, I’m Jamaican my way on the high seas to the remote, pristine Northern Island of Pagan!

Pronounced: PAG-an. (Emphasis on the PAG)

NOTE: If pronounced correctly, Pagan rhymes with wagon and dragon (UPDATE: I’ve been corrected,  to sound more consistent with Chamorro pronunciation, try PAW-gun)

Pagan is often called the “crown jewel” of the Marianas!

It is one of the most biologically and geologically diverse islands  in the archipelago, and is home to many threatened and endangered species, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

I’ve left my laptop behind in safe hands and I’m off to experience what the Tom Hanks character in the movie, Castaway, experienced, being way out on a small island in the middle of nowhere with just my wits for survival! (Well, in this case, I’ll get by with a little help from my friends, but you get the idea!)

We pulled out at 10pm

Boat owner, Keli, gives us a quick orientation

It’s a beautiful night as we pull out from Saipan harbor

By 5:30am the next morning, we pass Anatahan, another of the islands of the Northern Mariana Islands

I have, of course, left out the tossing and the bucking and puking! Actually, it wasn’t a bad trip. Once I heaved out the small amount of liquid that had accumulated in my stomach overnight, I felt much better! (That’s my cure for seasickness!)

The morning of the journey, I did a saltwater flush to complete clear my stomach and colon (ask me if you don’t know what that is). It’s something I typically do before every journey. In this case, I figured that I’d get less seasick with a completely empty system. It seems to have worked.

18 hours later, we arrive at PAG-an at about 4pm in the afternoon

I hadn’t planned on eating during this short two day journey. I figured I’d simply fast for the duration. However, I changed my mind and whipped out my just-in-case bag of lentils and made myself a simple soup before the other crew members started their cooking.

We made several trips to unload gear and personal items aboard a 15-foot speedboat.

 After spending 18 hours aboard the boat, I actually felt a twinge of sadness upon leaving to start the adventure on PAG-an!

 We set up tents and call it a night!

NEXT! DAY 2: Claiming the island in the name of Jamaica!!



Learn more about PAG-an and the military’s plans for bombing it at
View my slideshow at


Next item on the checklist: Transportation!

Okay. Let’s do something different this time! I’ve done Canada by car, Laos by bus, China by plane… What’s next? I know, let’s do the boat thing!


Uh-oh, waitaminit!! Last time I did Tinian by ferry back in 2007, I started to get nauseous, but I’m willing to give it another adventurous Jamaican try! In the spirit of the great Jamaican explorers of past and present, I will explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations; boldly go where NO JAMAICAN HAS GONE BEFORE!!! Um, sorry…got a little carried away there. Ahem.


So, where to find a boat? Hmmmm. Well, I’m on a little island in the middle of the Pacific. Shouldn’t be too hard!

Voila! a boat:

Inspecting the boat with a few curious passengers

Discussing logistics with the owner and captain

Cool! Cool! Cool! Seems like I’m all set. I’ve got my tent. I’ve got my boat. Packed a few things of tremendous importance (i.e. Lara bars), and I’m almost ready to push on through!

The only question that remains: Where on earth is this nomadpreneuring, minimalist, vegan Jamaican heading this time???? Patience, my dear friend. Patience. Stay tuned!


 p.s. If you know of any NATURAL anti-seasickness remedies or advice (no drugs, no patches), please let me know (just hit reply)


The “Jamaican on Pagan” Series
Day 3 Meet the pioneers

Somewhere’s calling!

Note for folks on Saipan: For a split second a few days ago, I  thought to myself “Ruth is going to enjoy these new emails!” Then I quickly remembered that my late friend, Ruth Tighe now has a much wider vantage point from which to enjoy this adventure, and so I dedicate this new adventure to her! (Her email comments throughout my last 6-month adventure in China have been immortalized in the book Guess Who’s Coming to Dim Sum: The Jamaican in China; full color pdf download; Also available in Paperback on Amazon!)

Jamaican’s Log: April 1, 2014

Yes, it’s time for a new “Jamaican in Somewhere” adventure! I’ve been to Jamaica, the US, Canada, Mexico, China, Singapore, Laos, Virgin Islands, Saipan, Guam, Tinian….but where next? This is a critical question, you see, because I’ve got to  fulfill the United Nations mandate that requires there be at least one Jamaican on every land mass in the world…at all times!

Somwhere is calling!

First, however, I must prepare. First stop: Fishing Tackle and Sporting Goods on Beach Road here on Saipan!  Checklist item #1: sleeping tent! If I should ever be without accommodations like I almost was when I was homeless on Hainan, I’ll have a “Plan B!”

I chose the size that fits two people (hey, you never know if I might have to entertain a tent guest!)

Dan the man at Fishing Tackle shows me how to set it up!
It’s easy once you know how!

Yep! That’ll work! Hmmm…Now, what’s next on my pre-adventure checklist? Transportation! Stay tuned!

You don’t want to miss this one!

The “Jamaican on Pagan” Series
Day 3 Meet the pioneers