My laptop computer crashed, or should I say, has been crashing for the last week or so. I used the times it was working to make sure everything was backed up and on disks, but finally had had enough of the problems and decided I had to get it fixed (since I work at my computer all day, as a writer, I am lost without it!). But that is never easy where we live.
I called Saipan to see if the computer store there could fix the problem (worse case was to put in a new hard-drive). They said they could, and said they could do it in a day... So I went to Saipan today to test them out. I took the early 8am ferry to Saipan--what a ride! The water was very rough today and for the first time, even I came close to getting sea-sick! Many of the passengers were actually screaming when the boat crashed down from some of the waves. It really was like a roller-coaster ride, putting your stomach in your mouth. But we all arrived safely, if green.
I took my computer into MegaByte about 9am. After looking at it, they thought it would need a new hard-drive and said they would try to get it back to me by 3pm--in time for the ferry back to Tinian. They lived up to their promise, fixed my computer by 3pm and I made the ferry back. While waiting I did some shopping and completed a to-do list I create for things that can only be done on Saipan.
I am testing out the computer, and so far, so good. I still have to spend some time getting back all the odds and ends one puts on a computer. Most of the stuff they were able to transfer from the old hard-drive. Considering the problem I had, it worked out well.
So, here is an endorsement of MegaByte on Saipan! They were very good, kept to the time they said they would, and the cost was very reasonable for the work done.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Thursday, February 21, 2008
One of the marvelous parts of living on Tinian is the wonderful flowers that are either planted by locals in their yards, or occur naturally on the island. One of the most prevelant ways in which the locals use the natural resources to enhance their yards is to use old tree trunks to plant flowers in: they take a 4'-6' tree trunk, place it in a hole 1'-2' deep so that it can stand upright, and then nail coconut husks, cut in half, to the side of the tree trunk. These halved coconut husks give little pockets in which to plant flowers, as well as in or on the tree trunk itself. It works amazingly well!
The new home that just had its concrete roof poured is still sitting under water--the water prevents the concrete from drying too fast and makes the concrete harder. The concrete will stay under water for about 15 days. After that time the bracing can be taken off from under the slab.
On the newest home being built, they are pouring concrete beams over the doors and windows to add strenth to these areas (in the last building, they poured a beam around the entire home, over every wall).
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
After Liz and I traveled around the island for a month--totally abusing our scooters by traveling down dirt roads, getting lost in the jungle, and other general abuse--one of the scooters finally said enough and died. Of course, I was out driving at the time of its death, and had to 'walk' it back to our apartment! Got my exercise that day! So I called our friend Ramon for help.
Yesterday Ramon brought a friend over to work on the bike. It was obvious that he knew the scooter well, and in less than an hour had repaired the bike and had it running better than it ever had! I thanked him and paid him for his time, glad that there was such service on the island.
Yesterday I also tried out our new neighbors. A new business opened next door to us a while ago. They built a metal clad building in stages, that has several small businesses inside. There is a beauty shop and hair salon, a fabric store, a tailor, and some other buisiness. Terri had need of a tailor for a couple of her pants, and I needed a haircut, so I just went next door.
I had the tailor repair the two pants and make a new pair out of new material, for just $25 (the work will be ready next week, so I will let you know how they do).
Then I stepped next door and had my hair cut. A young woman named Lorna had me point to one of the pictures on the wall to show what type of haircut I wanted. Then she started. For the most part she used an electric razor and comb, using sizzors on top. Then she used a straight razor for the edges of my hair--not a barber's razor, but just a two-sided straight razor she held in her hand! Needless to say, I kept quite still, not wanting to be sliced and diced. But there was no need to fear, she was very adept at her work and had no problems. Then I got a small massage and last of all had some hair product put into my hair. In all it, what would take 15 minutes and cost $10-$15 in the states, took 45 minutes and cost $5 on Tinian. You can judge for yourself the results...
Monday, February 18, 2008
Today is a holiday on Tinian, and so Terri and I took a walk along the beach to see the aftermath of the festival. We were surprised that everything was gone, and cleaned up! Just the frames of the booths remained a witness to the party that had been held for two days.
It was a beautiful day on Tinian, partly cloudy and warm. Lots of tourists were still on the beach at Tachogna--although, as usual, most of the beaches remained relatively empty.
The second day of the Hot Pepper Festival was also a full one. They had a 'dragon boat' race-- the dragon boat being a very long, skinny boat that can't seem to be made to go straight (it always seems to snake back and forth, which is supposedly where the boat gets its name, i.e., from the dragon's tail). They had a couple of wonderful bands playing during the day, as well as an repeat of the ukelali whiz kid.
Then, of course, there was a hot pepper cooking contest, followed by a hot pepper eating contest. The festival seemed to be well attended by both locals and visitors.
A new booth was opened today--from Marianas Dive, a group that was created to promote scuba diving in the islands. They had come to Tinian to aid in the development of scuba diving on the island of Tinian. Right now there are about four dive sights around Tinian (official dive sites have dive bouys in place--bouys attached to the sea bed with a sand screw so as not to harm the coral by anchors dragging the bottom). Boats tie-up to the bouys, and the divers use the bouy rope to follow down to the dive sight. The bouys are placed in areas of special interest--areas with coral formations and/or fish, etc. The Marianas Dive group were making dives around the island looking for additional areas that official dive bouys could be placed. They are also trying to coordinate certification teaching and facilities on Tinian so that more people can learn to scuba dive. I spoke to Mike Tripp to gain this info, who helped man the booth. Terri and I have toyed with the thought of learning to dive, but so far we have been satisfied with snorkeling.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The Hot Pepper Festival began today at Tochogna beach. A number of booths had been built and were being used to sell food, drinks, ice cream, trinkets, artwork, etc. In order to purchace anything at the festival one had to buy tokens first (like we used to do at fairs). I'm not sure why this was necessary, except as a way for those who run the festival to make sure they get their share of the money being spent--which is understandable, since there was a lot of work and entertainment that has gone into the festival.
Terri and I had a great time, ate lunch and had some ice cream, and watched a number of cultural dances and singers. One young ukelale player of 13--they called him a whiz kid or something--also played. They had dancers from several different islands, but both Terri and I thought that our own cultural dancers from Tinian (the same ones that perform at the Dynasty Casino) were by far the best.
They had a small band to play music, and had a number of events such as a hermit crab race and vollyball tournament. At night they had a kareoke singing contest.
It was overcast most of the day--much of it from the volcano I assume--but it did not start to rain untill evening, and then only intermitently.
The festival goes on tomorrow also.