Micronesia (Pohnpei, FSM)

30 March 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 international 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

Of the four states, why did I select Pohnpei to visit ? It has the capital (Palikir) but, more notably, Pohnpei has the legendary lost city of Nan Madol, considered, next to Easter Island, to be the main megalithic archeological site in Oceania.

Starting the increasingly rocky, slippery path to 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.
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.

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.

At the last house before the path, nice guy Bernie confirmed that I was
going in the right direction and he joined me on part of the little trek.

One of the canals in Nan Madol.

Nan Madol is not a lovingly reconstructed tourist attraction and, even with the best preservation efforts, it won't be another Machu Picchu, Easter Island, or Angkor Wat. But I think the unadorned ruins of Nan Madol are authentically cool.