Betty and I had a day more to wait on Pohnpei before our fight to Truk. At breakfast, we discussed what to do that day. The motel manager asked, “Would you like to see Nan Madol?” “The boys will take you.” “What is Nan Madol?” She told us that it was an ancient city built on canals in the swamp. It is across the lagoon, so maybe you could stop to swim coming back. Sounded interesting, so, sure, let’s go!
We grabbed our snorkeling gear, and climbed down the steep hill to get into a long rowboat with a motor. The route went through a culvert under a road, and across the lagoon, where we could see a hut and a man sitting on the end of a pier. The boys had told us that the man claimed to be the last decendent of the ancient tribe that lived at Nan Madol, and we were to pay him $2.00 admission.
We next passed through a wall of greenery, and emerged in a checkerboard labyrinth of canals that stretched away in to the swamp. Each square piece of land, or platform, probably had a hut built on stilts. Now they were just covered with leaves.
The boys pulled the boat up to rocks next to a breach in an eighteen foot high wall built of huge blocks of stone. We climbed up the rocks and were in a huge walled fortress or temple that was about 50 yards long and 30 yards wide. How the big stones got there is not known. What happened to the people who were gone is not known.
The main city of Nan Madol was on the shore at the eastern end of the island. The great walls and network of canals stretched about a mile long and half a mile wide. That is where the tour boats took the hotel guests from the town. The fortress we saw was inland on the lagoon, so we had a special experience.
On the way back, the boys stopped the boat at a small islet. They pointed where to snorkel, and said they would go around the other side to fix something to eat. When we slipped into the water we saw the most gorgeous virgin reef growth imaginable! There were coral fans, and green plants waving to the small colorful fIsh that flashed in the growth.
On the other side of the islet, the boys had speared several small fish, and thrown them on a fire. We just scraped the charcoaled skin and scales off, and picked the meat out with our fingers. Delicious!
A grey squall came at us, and suddenly we were heading full throttle in a blinding rain! We could see only a boat length ahead, and the culvert I remembered seemed smaller and smaller as we sped across the lagoon. Our boatman “nailed” it and we went through the culvert without any adjustment in direction.
Our wetsuits saved us from getting chilled in the cold rain. We were glad to get back to the motel and have some warm rice.
Next, on to Truk!