Tanya and Jay may not necessarily be in the middle of nowhere, but we’re pretty darn close. Four days of sailing in the North Pacific and 2,000 miles west of Hawaii, we finally made landfall in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Spending endless hours/days crossing the ocean, with no other sign of life or another vessel in sight, has really brought home to us the vastness of the Pacific. We can only imagine what voyages like this were like 100, 200 or 300 years ago.
Majuro is the capital island of the Marshalls and boasts a population of about 28,000. The Marshalls themselves are most famous for being part of the chain that includes Bikini Atoll, site of early US nuclear bomb testing, and Kwajalein, still home to a US missile tracking station. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, while independent, maintains a special relationship with the United States, called a free association, whereby the US subsidizes the economy of the islands and agrees to come to their defense. The islands use the US dollar as their local currency and English is the main language, along with Marshallese.
Majuro is technically an atoll, an island formed from a reef surrounding a lagoon. The reef once surrounded a volcano which has now sunk below the waves, eroded and has left the resulting lagoon. The ship’s dock is located along the inside edge of the atoll, inside the lagoon, and the atoll itself does not form a complete donut. So there is only a narrow opening channel for the ship to enter the lagoon. The harbor area was filled with ships loading the morning’s tuna catch. The captain of the Amsterdam got us through safely and we docked with the help of the local line crew.
When a ship with over a thousand passengers and crew visits, it’s a pretty big deal and we were welcomed by a musical group and lots of local volunteers complete with matching t-shirts. Little kids and islanders seemed genuinely pleased to have us there, smiling and wanting to chat. We even met a family who have friends who go to Portland State, so that opened a conversation window. We spent the day walking around the main town, Delap, just being amazed at the resiliency and friendliness of the people who live in this remote Pacific outpost. It was a wonderful day.