Valerie and I
recently took a sunset cruise aboard the Oleanda. This private
yacht is based out of the Majuro Atoll (the capital of the Republic
of The Marshall Islands, located about 150 miles southeast of
Kwajalein) and spent a month docked here at Kwajalein.
The chef prepared an awesome dinner
of roasted pig, grilled chicken, beef, pork, and salmon. Towards
the end of the "five-hour cruise", (you have to
say that as if you're singing the theme song to Gilligan’s
Island) the tour director introduced the crew, who performed
a number of traditional songs and dances. He then had a number
of prizes to give away, mostly hats and shirts. Valerie and
I won the last prize, which turned out to a bit more expensive:
a seven-day expedition trip for two to the Rongelap Atoll!
This scuba diving and deep-sea fishing trip normally costs
between $1,400 and $2,200 per person!
Rongelap is located about 180 miles
north of here, close to the Bikini Atoll. You may have heard
of Bikini, which is famous for the extensive nuclear testing
conducted there by the United States government. Rongelap
received heavy doses of radioactive fallout from the first
hydrogen bomb, and the Department of the Interior relocated
the residents to Kwajalein. In the mid 80s, the Department
of Energy declared Rongelap free of radioactivity and allowed
residents to move back to the atoll. The Rongelap government
is working to increase the tourism to this remote atoll and
will begin construction of a resort in 2004.
For more information on Rongelp and
expeditions to the atoll, visit www.rongelapexpeditions.com.