My family loves to travel and we have had some amazing trips. Even with seven kids my parents always made an effort to plan family vacations. We have taken short road trips for hockey tournaments and other things. Trips to Duluth were frequent but we also drove to Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, North and South Dakota, and Colorado.
When I was in high school my parents took my three younger brothers and I to Canada to see Niagara falls and the hockey hall of fame, then we drove to New York for the baseball hall of fame, then to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Our last stop was Chicago and then home. The next year we flew to Key West, Florida and had the best vacation of my life. Even though I say that is my favorite vacation, it is not the coolest place I’ve been. My parents again took my three younger brothers and I to two more places and these places changed my life.
in 2006 my dad took a job in The Federated States of Micronesia. You are probably thinking “that can’t be a real place!”
The Federated States of Micronesia is made up of four islands; Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk and Yap. As the Chief Litigator for all four states my dad worked on all the islands, but we lived on the island of Yap. Again, I am not making this up, it’s a real place, check out this map to get a better idea of where it is!
We lived in the capital, Colonia, right next to the hospital (which turned out to be very convenient). We lived on a bay and right outside our door was the ocean.
Let me explain a little bit about the island of Yap. Yap is the most culturally traditional island of Micronesia. While some locals do wear shorts/skirts and t-shirts, some especially in the villages wear their native dress. Men in loin cloths called a “thoo” and the women in wrapped skirts called “lava lava’s” and nothing else. The women are topless.
Yap has many great sights and one of them that you see all over the island is stone money. Stone money can be anywhere from three feet tall to over six feet tall, and way several tons. Stone money is exactly that, a giant stone that was exchanged for services or products (mostly land). Because stone money is extremely big and heavy it does not get moved around when it is “spent”, it stays where it sits and the villages just remember who owns it at the time.
We spent a lot of time scuba diving. Yap is home to a manta ray cleaning station, where mantas come to a specific area and little fish clean them. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.
When you dive at that site you find a place in the sand or on the coral to sit and giant manta rays (6 feet across) swim over you. They look like they are flying and it is so beautiful!
Here is a video of the manta rays. My family did not take this video, but its super awesome! Click here!
When we weren’t working on our home schooling we would visit our private beach, walk to town, play with our pooch Tiki, go scuba diving or hang out with our Peace Corps and lawyer friends.
This is Tiki our puppy.Our island life was nothing short of incredible, but living on an island is not a vacation. We still had to clean our rooms, do homework, my dad worked, we had to cook everything from scratch and so to take a little break from our “hectic” island life we went on a vacation, to Bali, Indonesia.
Here you can see the Federated States of Micronesia on the upper right and Indonesia in the middle.
We traveled to Sanur, Ubud and Kuta. Sanur we found a hotel with two swimming pools, $6 massages and restaurants with cheeseburgers and milk shakes (there is only powdered milk in Yap). In Ubud we visited the monkey forest, temples, and saw a traditional dance. In Kuta we went to shopping malls and the beach where my brothers learned to surf.
While for most of my life I have lived in the same tiny house in a tiny town, for a little while I got to see the world. The time I spent abroad changed me for the better. I will never forget the adventures my family had and I owe all of it to my parents! Thanks mom and dad!!!!!!