Thursday, May 24, 2007

Giving Saipan a Second Chance

It appears that I have not given Siapan quite enough credit. Either my memories from two years ago were flawed or we have visited new and different sites that have given me a renewed appreciation for this island. While the economy of Siapan is still reeling from the drop in tourism following the crash of the Japanese Nikkei and 9-11 as well as from the loss of revenue from the many garment factories which once operated here and have now moved overseas, the island itself has its spots.

On our way into the Port of Saipan two days ago we had to wait for an hour or so while the ship tied up at the dock. Being out in the small boats and done with our work, we took a small detour around tiny Managaha Island in Tanapag lagoon where silken white beaches and waters the color of Bombay Sapphire dazzled our eyes.

Yesterday evening several of us traveled around the east side of the island and then to the top of Tapotchau, the highest point on Saipan to watch the sunset. It was spectacular! To the west we had a nearly perfect set up of clouds and small rain showers while to the east a brilliant rainbow had our backs. As the sun set and the colors deepened we marveled that we are actually being paid to witness such sights. We are indeed lucky to say the least.

Clearly unsatiated, we awoke early this morning (6:00) to head for the Blue Grotto. Similar to a central or south American cenote, the grotto is a sinkhole where the roof of a cave has collapsed revealing a dazzling pool with passages leading out to the ocean. Climbing down 150 steps in full dive gear we splashed into Persian Blue waters gently surging back and forth with the swells. As we descended into the depths we were greeted by a variety of fishes and could see the azure lights streaming in from the open sea. Following the passages out through cathedral vaults, we came upon a pair of anemonefish gently swaying in their little home.

We head back out to sea tomorrow and, while we are looking forward to new sights in the north, Saipan has left a new and better impression. I look forward to our next trip and new explorations.


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