Micronesia (Pohnpei, FSM)

March 30, 2014

Vista on a late afternoon drive on the east side of
Pohnpei island in the Federated States of Micronesia

The flag of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has four stars to represent its four island states. For a recap of their unusual status, see my earlier post. And, confusingly, this country named Micronesia is in the center of the larger geo-cultural region also called Micronesia.

Each of the four states has its own cultural traditions and language, with English as the common language. Yap and Chuuk (Truk) may be more famous among divers, but I decided to go to Pohnpei.
Capitol building in Palikir, Pohnpei, FSM

Why Pohnpei? It has the capital (Palikir) but, more notably, Pohnpei has the legendary lost city of Nan Madol, considered, next to Easter Island, the main megalithic archeological site in Oceania.
Best part of the increasingly rocky, slippery path to see seldom visited Nan Madol

The lush landscape was distracting while traipsing out to Nan Madol and crossing
dilapidated foot bridges with missing planks that outnumber remaining ones.

Nan Madol, unrestored and mysterious.

Many centuries ago Nan Madol was a large, fortified enclave for the ruling dynasty. Canals were built and structures were somehow made from basalt columns so heavy that people are puzzled how they were transported from the far side of the island. (Von Daniken said it all required outerspace aliens and some locals just call it magic.)

Nan Madol is not a lovely reconstructed tourist attraction and, even with the best preservation efforts, it might never be a Machu Picchu, Easter Island, or Angkor Wat. But the modest ruins of Nan Madol may be cooler unadorned.

After a rough road to an unmarked spot that I managed to find in my rental car, I walked a kilometer through the jungle on a rocky trail and rickety foot bridges. Then, wading through knee-deep water via slippery rocks, I got to the most imposing building. With no other traveler around, it gives the frisson of a discovery, even if I'm not actually making an archeological breakthrough. It has the feeling of having just been found yesterday, maybe today.
At the last house before the path, nice guy Bernie confirmed that I was
going in the right direction but I persuaded him to join me on the little trek.

One of the canals in Nan Madol.