Majuro reminds me of a sweet and sour dish. The first ingredient in a sweet and sour is vinegar, so I'll start here with the sour. The truth is there is a lot of sour here and it is most certainly mired in the fact that the water around them is rising and there is no future. The island is only a few feet above the waters of the great Pacific Ocean and reminders of water ingress are never further away than the next high tide. The highest place in all of Majuro is a 30' wall of trash about mid island, but trash is everywhere and permeates the island in a sad and heavy way.
Like the dish, I will add a little pineapple sweetness here: I know I've said it before, we have met the nicest people while cruising, but the sweetness that exudes from these people defies all the senses. They are warm and humble and they believe they live in paradise. And the truth is, they do. They love their island in an uncompromising display of continual pageantry. They are fiercely proud of their schools and college and even more proud of their children. They take care of each other in ways that astonish me. There are literally no homeless, a hovel for everyone.
I think this is where I add the onions and peppers: The locals have become complacent about it and seem to believe that no matter where they put, throw, or stash the trash it will end up in the ocean so they don't even try. Boats, cars and houses decay right where ever their last ground was. They bulldoze garbage to the margins of the island creating (albeit temporary) walls against the rising tide. The trash literally has nowhere else to go. As horrendous as all this trash and decay is, the poverty of the locals is even more heart rending. The government is rumored to be highly corrupt (sound familiar?) and appear to look the other way on both of these serious issues.
And a little sugar: They have fishing tournaments here fairly often and all the fish are donated to the locals and the hospital. They take care of each other in a way I am astonished by. The outer islands of this atoll are beautiful and the waters are teeming with fish. We are hoping one of them will jump onto our dinner plates on the way to Fiji.
Add heat and love and life and you get Majuro Sauce: Majuro has almost no illiteracy and most know at least two languages. If they don't know English, they just smile and nod yes. Unemployment is high, perhaps over 50% and minimum wage is just over $2.00/hr. Seems every local driver is a taxi driver and they earn 75 cents per trip, per person, long or short, with or without betel nut (they chew and gives them some sort of high). You just put out a hand if there's room, they pull over. The food in the stores is expensive and out of the reach of most of the population (most of it was out of our reach as well!). But they don't need much to survive here; breadfruit, coconuts, fish and rice and rain water are all plentiful. Especially the rain! Every. Single. Day. There is no water shortage.
Finally we are leaving Majuro in the Marshall Islands. We've been here six months and we really are ready to get going. Ashika is in much better shape than when she arrived and I think Dois and I are too. I won't bore you with the whole list of housekeeping chores but Dois got the welding done, fixed and painted the anchor chain and I finished the new “little black dress” for the dinghy (along with a new seat and under-seat bag), just a few of our final touches.