Tag Archives: Saipan

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

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

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 sent 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

MLK Day on Saipan: What a month!

Wow! It’s been a hectic few weeks!mlk
First a little background:
In April 2006, CNMI Governor Benigno Fitial signed the bill enacting Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an official CNMI holiday to commence on January 15th, 2007 (You can see my coverage of this in Walt’s Escape from America (Opens in new window). In the past, there had been commemorations of MLK Day on island supported and hosted by private individuals and groups. Now, as an official holiday, this year’s commemoration took on particular significance. it was appropriate to do something more than in previous years. This excerpt from a letter sent out to local leaders and media explains: Initial program plans include an open-to-the public “Rally, Reflection & Recognition” event with guest speakers, a keynote address, and a “Freedom March” centered in and around the American Memorial Park. Also featured will be the presentation of a “Young Freedom Fighters Award” to local student-winners of our school-wide MLK Essay/Speech Contest. Cynthia E. Nance’s selection as Keynote Speaker comports with the stated 2007 program theme, as the first woman and first black dean of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Law School and as a Professor of law.
To place Dean/Professor Nance’s accomplishments in perspective, it should be known that Arkansas is where Governor Orval Fabus, in 1957, in defiance of the orders of President Eisenhower to admit black students to Little Rock Central High School and in the face of the National Guard, and in the eyes of the world, vowed publicly that black and white children would never be allowed to attend school together in the State of Arkansas. Dean/Professor Nance, in the true spirit of Dr. King’s dream, has “over come” such entrenched barriers of racial discrimination in education and employment opportunities, and her professional and academic achievements serve as an inspiration to freedom loving people everywhere.
So things started back in December when the planning for the CNMI’s first official Martin Luther King Jr., Day kicked into high gear. The planning committee of the African American Cultural Preservation Committee (attorney Joe Hill, president) here on Saipan met every week and as the event closed in, we met every other day in the lobby of the World Resort Hotel.


After weeks of planning, the day finally came, and we met and welcomed Dean Nance at the airport at 1:00am Friday morning. With singer singing, ukulele playing, cameras snapping, the Dean was welcomed in style to the CNMI!

…and then we wait for luggage

With a full itinerary, the Dean was on her way to Rota that Friday morning, Tinian the next day and returned to Saipan on Sunday. The Tsunami (see Angelo’s account;opens in new window) delayed things a bit.

On Sunday, there was a reception in her honor at Judge Lizama’s residence.

Monday (MLK Day), found us all busy setting up the stage, moving tables and chairs, setting up sound systems and everything else one needs for an inaugural commemoration.

As organizer of the MLK Essay and Elocution contest, I was up at 5am reading essays, creating handouts for the judges, and then was off to Joe Hill’s office at 7:30 to make photocopies of all the entries. Along with Dorothea Bryant and Angie Wheat, we hosted and judged the elocution portion of the contest that morning.

Now I have to say something about the contest; something about the support and attitude of the students and teachers and committee members here in the CNMI. Of the many people who received the contest announcement, some as late as the day before the deadline, 12 schools’ principals and teachers chose to participate.

From those schools, 30 students chose to submit essays, 5 students chose to memorize speeches

Of those who received the announcement ON ROTA, 6 students chose to participate, and their principal found a way to get their essays hand delivered to us IN TIME!!

There are students, educators, even strangers who graciously chose to sit through the chaos of this our first event to support the children and the intention behind our efforts.

So, along with yours truly, there were 3 judges (Dorothea, Angie and Laura) who–all drafted at the last minute–chose to listen to and judge the speeches that morning, then chose to work tirelessly (without ANY complaint whatsoever) the entire day (missing the march, and portions of the ceremony, feeding themselves at their own expense) in order to diligently grade EVERY student’s written essay. (Thanks, ladies, for putting up with my spontaneous, last-minute chaos!)

Shots from the Official Commemoration!



Park Ranger Kelchmer (is that your official title?) prepares Dept of Public Safety Commissioner Rebecca Warfield to project the “look of authority” while retaining a woman’s mystique and grace

Note: the next several shots courtesy of Angelo Villagomez

 


Monday morning’s cleanup of Makaka Beach was a success. Participants from MOVER, MINA, RC&D, Rep. Kaipat, Rep Waki, and Mozell’s Boys picked up trash and bushcut our own tall grass. The Saipan Tribune covered this cleanup, which was part of the “Day on, not a day off” celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Over 30 people attended this cleanup
Official Master and Mistress of Ceremony, Ambrose Bennett and Shequita Bennett.


Gus Kaipat sings CNMI anthem.


The front row VIPs.


Joe Hill makes welcoming remarks


Ryan Ortizo wows the crowd with a stirring rendition of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech


Congresswoman Cinta Kaipat tells of the history and struggle of getting the day formalized in the CNMI


Senator Maria Pangelinan


VIPs on stage


Essay & Elocution contest winners from left to write: Audrey Jo Ada, Alice Tessen, Joan Liwanag, Raymark Denora (not present: Jo Micah Cabrera)
Check out the Winning Essays


Elocution contest winner (High School Division) Joan Liwanag


Elocution contest winner (Elementary School Division) Raymark Denora

And now, ladies and gentlemen, our keynote speaker…




[end of Angelo’s shots]

The evening was inspiring as well as entertaining, and was a great kickoff for what will be an annual tradition which will grow in attendance and participation….

Well done to all who stayed up late, got up early, donated their time, energy, ideas and passion to make this long-awaited day a reality here in the CNMI!


Special thanks again to Ranger Kelchmer for letting us use the office for grading the essays!

And even though this is a personal blog, I’d like to spread recognition of appreciation
by way of the following:

This Project was made possible by support from the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities, a non-profit, private corporation funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

(NOTE: check back to this post for links to videos, winning essays and even more photos!)

But wait! It’s not over yet!
Having made the 10,000-mile trip from NY to Saipan myself three times (that would be a total of 5 times across the Pacific) in less than 9 months, I know firsthand how it feels. I also felt that having come all this way, the Dean should at least get to see some of Saipan’s native beauty beyond the scheduled talks, official meetings and presentations that filled her schedule. So, I plotted a friendly “kidnapping.”

I arrived at Kagman Elementary school on Tuesday afternoon after the second of the official school meetings, managed to tick off fellow committee member Sam Joyner and a few teachers (sorry ladies, didn’t intend to offend anyone, but kidnapping’s a dirty job that wins few friends) and sort of pushed my agenda forward to add some down-time activities to the Dean’s stay!

It was about 3pm. With only a few hours of daylight left, and since we were in Kagman, I first took the Dean part of the way down the trail to Forbidden Island (um, don’t tell AAPC president Joe Hill, he’d have a fit!)


 


…then to Tank Beach

….then to Mount Tapochau


….she asked to stop by Judge Weiss’ place, so we did that for a few minutes…By then it was about 4:00pm, the daylight hours were dwindling, so the Judge graciously sent us on our way with his own recommendations on where to take the Dean.


….then I took her to a little-known trail to a secluded fishing spot (introduced to me by Captain Carlopens in new window) near Marpi Point just in time for a great view of a Saipan sunset! Man, that’s a steep trail! Kudos to the dean, who, ill-prepared for my kidnapping itinerary, and dressed in only sandals and with a toe she hurt earlier in the day, completed both the Forbidden island trail and the Marpi trail in fine style (i.e. alive to talk about it!)

….then to Banzaii Cliff

…then to Bird Island

…and on the way back, took a wrong turn and ended up at the Grotto. By then it was dark, so we didn’t get to see much. Within a few minutes one of Saipan’s Finest showed up (wonder if news of the kidnapping got out!). He asked if everything was alright. I told him I was fine, and that the Dean was treating me well. Or maybe he was asking HER…hmmm, …in any event, the Dean and the officer had a nice chat about the undersea world of Saipan’s diving spots while I wondered if he was secretly detaining us waiting for “backup” to take me down!!

No SWAT teams showed up, so I chauffeured Dean Nance back to the World Resort to meet with Joe.

My work here is done!

The next morning (Wednesday), driven to the airport by Rose Smith, the Dean and a few of us had a small farwell gathering…


Willie, Rose, Dean Nance, Joe, me (one of these days I’ll see Willie smile in a photograph, I just know it)

Dean Cynthia Nance shows her ticket to the gate agent, walks up the ramp, and heads home.

More to come!