After Truk, we splurged on a weeks’ vacation at an old beachfront hotel in Saipan, where we snorkeled and swam every day in the warm clear waters, and rested. Saipan is the second largest island in the Mariana Islands archipelago, after Guam. It is located about 120 miles north of Guam, and was held by the Japanese until captured by the US in July of 1944.
The first day we walked to a market nearby, and looked for fresh fruit. After months on Tol, any citrus would taste good. Oranges were very expensive. There was a large basket of tangerines, on sale because they were soft, and nobody was buying them. We bought one, took it outside and opened it — it was perfect inside, juicy and delicious! Back we went and bought a whole bag of them to take back to the hotel.
The Women’s Mission Board had referred us to the Far East Broadcasting Company they were supporting. The Far East Broadcasting was a new radio station that was eventually to broadcast the Christian message to China. They were putting out popular secular music locally until they built up a listener base.
The manager took us sightseeing to see the remains of the war there, including a small Japanese command post with shell holes in the walls. One relic was an American Sherman tank slowly rusting in 6 ft. of water a quarter mile from the beach. It was obviously one vehicle that did not make it ashore during the invasion.
Next day, a young guy on a Hobie Cat gave us a ride out to the tank, and we snorkeled around it to see the fish that had gathered underneath. With the tide with us, it was an easy swim back to the beach.
Another day, we walked to town to the municipal dock and got a ferry boat ride out to a tiny island called Managaha, offshore a couple of miles for a day of snorkeling. The water was clear and shallow, and we could see the coral and fish up close.
When we got out of the water, the captain of the ferry was yelling through a bullhorn that the boat was leaving in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes was plenty of time to walk around the side of the island. When we returned, 15 minutes later, the boat was backing away about 50 feet from the dock! We ran and yelled, and waved, but he just kept going and left us there. OH NO! Here we were stranded on this island, too far to swim to shore, the sun was sinking late afternoon, now what do we do?
Providentially, there was a small speedboat with a professional photography crew just loading their cameras, tripods, and model at the beachfront. We asked if we could hitch a ride to shore. The guy looked at their 4 seat boat, 4 people, equipment, and us, and then said they would squeeze us in. They let us off just offshore of our hotel and we walked in.
I’m glad we didn’t have to spend the night on Managaha island!