Saipan Dispatch #1

Posted On: January 10, 2019

Arrival

Our Asiana Air flight from Seoul touched down on the Saipan tarmac at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, January 6. From the airport, we drove north in our rental car to Mariana Lounge, a place for travelers in transit. You pay $15 for up to 12 hours.

We slept off a bit of jet lag in their lounge chairs, got a much-needed shower and waited for check-in time at our hotel, the Surfrider. As you can see from their website, the hotel is almost right on the beach.

It has its own tongue-in-cheek weather station and a Muskoka/Andirondack chair on steroids.

The coconut must have been replaced after the recent typhoon.

 

Many meetings

We met up with my friend Ping Limes, whom I’d last seen in Santa Fe at the Oct 2017 Peace Corps reunion, at his house in a village called Koblerville, where his wife and other relatives were playing backyard Bingo.

Ping’s concrete house survived Typhoon Yutu in good shape. . . . as did Ping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We drove with Ping up into the hills towards the east side of the island where my Oleai family were hosting a 3 Kings’ Day novena, a series of devotional prayers in honor of the magi. It was also a Carolinian feast with tables lined with delicious food and a large cake in celebration of Tata Carlos Borja’s 82nd birthday. The five Borja sisters and one brother plus their children, grandchildren and many other extended family members were there–60 to 70 people in all.

Two reasons I had come to Saipan were to be present for Carlos’ birthday and to see his middle daughter, Rosalia, who has been my main contact with the family and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer early in 2018. Carlos was clearly moved by the fact that we had come to be here. Rosalia is doing well after a couple months of treatment in Manila. Here she is with Jody and me:

 

More to follow . . .