The following account of our years in Micronesia was written in the form of long, illustrated letter to our niece Corinna. Lynn began writing it after Corinna had joined the Peace Corps, but before she went overseas. It was completed and sent to her while she was living in a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, but before we went to visit her there. Philip added the pictures, mainly from old slides, some of which were no longer in the best condition. It has been edited and broken into pages.
I donít know if you recall or not, but we actually were on Kosrae twice: once in 1969-1971 in the Peace Corps (Uncle Philip and Aunty Lynn only) and again in 1974-1975 when Uncle Philip did his anthropological fieldwork (with Marisa).† Most of what I will relate to you concerns the first visit, but I will also include some information from the second visit because it was more like how I had originally envisioned the Peace Corps experience.†
We went into the Peace Corps in June 1969.† After a brief staging at San Jose State, we flew to Micronesia via Hawaii.† We had never been to Hawaii before, so our first exposure to the tropics was the warm, humid air of the Honolulu Airport in the middle of the night.† We were only there long enough to change planes before continuing on to Guam, where we spent the next night off the plane in a run down cluster of rusting Quonset huts called the Hotel Micronesia.
Several of the new volunteers immediately had doubts about their assignment during our short stay on Guam.† This was before Guam became something of a tourist destination catering to the Japanese.† Although geographically part of Micronesia, Guam had long been a U.S. territory and gave the impression of a crowded, dusty, depressed area dominated by military bases, rather than one of the exotic tropical islands our fellow volunteers had been anticipating.†
However we were enchanted by the warm ocean breezes and perfumed air, and even found the geckos in our quarters interesting.† From Guam we flew to Moen (now called Weno) in the Truk (Chuuk) Lagoon, a location that immediately put everyone in a better frame of mind.† It was much more like the stereotypical romantic tropical islands, despite the rusty Quonset huts, mud, and crumbling ruins of past colonial structures that we would soon find were ubiquitous to the district centers of the various island groups of Micronesia.††
From Chuuk we took a small, rusty inter-island freighter to Pohnpei (then known as "Ponape"), a larger neighboring island to Kosrae and where we would spend the first summer in training.† The excitement of being on the open ocean, bobbing along the waves, soon waned as one by one most of us became seasick.† Some of us never got our sea legs even after numerous voyages between islands.
Field Trip Ship Kaselehlia in Chuuk Lagoon, Preparing to Depart for Pohnpei
Accommodations consisted of a spot to sleep on the deck or cargo hold surrounded by our possessions. Being out in the fresh air was better than being in a stuffy hot cabin, but the rolling of ship resulted in some pretty sore spots where bones rubbed against the wooden or metal deck. This was especially the case for skinny people, as we were back then.
Accommodations on the Kaselehlia from Chuuk to Pohnpei (Lynn on left)