I’ve been off the island for barely two weeks and already onto my next adventure (stay tuned I’ll post that soon). No more walking to those sand dunes to watch the sunset. My last night there I went out to watch the sunset with my island peeps and they sang me a mahalo ole… a Hawaiian song of thanks, that brought tears to my eyes. I tried to tape it, they might hate that I post it but it was just so lovely. I had to put my phone down halfway through and stop taping so I can just enjoy the aloha of it.
The internet was super sucky on the island so there’s a lot I couldn’t get posted. I’m going to try to knock those out soon so I can tell you what I’m up to now. All in all I’m so glad I went to Midway. How lucky am I to get to live on a remote island, a Fish and Wildlife refuge and bird colony? It’s pretty much what I expected. The Thai community was warm and the nicest bunch of people, not to mention the food they cooked was amazing! (I gained at least 10lbs but they are already coming off back to my crunchy way of eating.) The other full time inhabitants were also nice and a unique crew who, as I expected, mostly keep to themselves. The Fish and Wildlife interns and volunteer were a lot of fun and I commend them on the hard work they do and the sacrifices they make to do it. I’ll be following their careers on Facebook for years to come. Being their medical provider was rewarding, to take care of the people you care about.
The Island itself was probably unlike any other. A relic of post World War II, crumbling around us, I was so brutally aware of it when I first arrived. Bunkers here and there, and old sea spline hanger surrounded by the pitting of cement from an attack of cannon balls, and the recreational facilities for the upwards of 2000 people who once inhabited the island were so harsh to my eye compared to the background of a beautiful white sand Atoll with teal blue lagoons, giant sea turtles, snorting monk seals and birds aplenty. The island was desperately trying to take itself back from the abuse of a naval base with the help of its new landlords.
While the medicine part of my job ebbed and flowed with the occasion blood pressure check and borderline hypochondriacs to the crushed fingers, chest pains and belly pains… it barely consumed my time. Unlike the other island inhabitants, I had plenty of free time to explore the island. Seeing a beach full of giant sea turtles or a snorting Monk seal was a day to day event for me. I watched the albatross chicks grow and the affects the world has had on them all the way out in the middle of the ocean. I filled my days cleaning the beaches (the amount of marine debris is crazy), walking the beaches, biking the island, hanging in the hammock, reading Harry Potter (on the 5th book) amongst other books about random stuff. I got to know my little island.
Back in “the real world” is an adjustment. It wasn’t as hard as acclimating from Antarctica. I remember walking through the Sydney airport coming home from the ice and just not being able to cope with all the people and noise. A couple days hanging with a friend in Honolulu probably helped with that. Funny enough, my first night in Honolulu we walked into a restaurant that was loud and packed with people. When the hostess asked if we wanted to wait for a table my friend said “no that’s OK, she just got off a small island” leaving the hostess somewhat confused as to what Oahu was or what exactly that meant. Being a friend from the ice, he understood and helped with the acclimating.
So while there’s good coffee off the island, like everything else, I have to pay for it. Having not carried a wallet for four months, paying for stuff sucks and the cute new jingle that replaced the jarring beeps on the credit card machines at Trader Joe’s just don’t make up for that. I miss my bike back on the island. I miss the people but they still check in on facebook. I miss the quiet sense of peace I can find sitting on a sand dune at sunset. So when I fade into a highway of traffic and a sea of strange faces, I know I got to have this great unique experience and it only makes me wonder what else is out there to see and do.