The Things You Get Used To

I was thinking about this this morning as I hopped on my bike to go to work at 6am. It was still dark; the sun is up from about 7am-7pm here every day and I remember how when I first got here, whenever I would go out in the dark, I would expect it to be cold. In Montana, usually even in the summer first thing in the morning, it's chilly. I've gotten used to it being warm even when it's dark now. Other than this morning I haven't even thought about it for awhile.

Another thing I've gotten used to is the salt water. My only salt water experience til now was the Oregon Coast. The water there is bone-achingly cold. I never swam in it so I never tasted it. I spent lots of time in the water in Montana, all of it freshwater. For the first couple of months I was here, I was always surprised when I would taste the salty water. Now my brain has gotten used to it and it's another thing I don't really think about anymore.


Bicycle Update

You may remember during the packing and planning process, I decided to bring the bike I already owned with me to Kwaj. Everyone said it was going to get ruined and I knew that. I had seen pictures of Bicycle Heaven; the rusty pile of bikes in the Kwaj dump. What was I going to do, buy a new one that also will rust and die?

I've had my current bicycle for about 10 years. It's a mountain bike that I mostly rode on city streets except for about 4 times when I actually went mountain biking on it. I've never been a big bike rider; I prefer to walk or hike.

Anyhoo, I'm pretty surprised at how well it's been holding up for me. I've only had to replace one brake cable, the kickstand and the foot pedals. The kickstand and the foot pedals was because the wind knocked the bike over (many times) and they broke, and the brake cable was from rust. The chain is rusty, the bolts and a few random parts but overall, it's doing quite well.

Some people take their bikes into their rooms, others grease and sand and otherwise fully maintain their bikes on a regular basis. Me? I spray it down with silicone spray or penetrating fluid every so often and I'm good to go. I could get more serious about it but I'm happy with the overall effort/result ratio. I'll keep you posted on any "breaking" news on the bike as time goes on.


It Happens.....

If you've gone back to the beginning of this blog, you will see that the process for getting out here is not an easy one. There is a lot of waiting, a lot of paperwork, physical exams, security checks, red tape and more waiting. You have to be pretty determined to make it to Kwaj the first time. (Retreads have a much easier time getting out here the second or third time. Or more.)

Surprisingly, even though it takes a long time and there is plenty of information to be had about what it's really like, sometimes people get here, take one look and leave as soon as they can. I had heard rumors about this and thought it was an exaggeration but it's happened since I got here. A twenty something guy took an IT job here and was gone within 3 days! 3 DAYS! There are all kinds of rumors about why he left, I have no idea what the true story is on it but let me tell you it was a very costly decision on his part.

The way I understand it, if you leave before at least one year of your contract is fulfilled you have to reimburse the company for the security check, the medical exam and blood tests you take, the cost of your ticket to get here, the cost of shipping your household goods here and back, and your plane ticket home. This is a LOT of money. Plus you don't have a job and you get to tell your next employer that you didn't meet your contractual agreement.

In order to avoid any expenses on your part, you have to complete the full two years. (This actually varies depending on which company you work for here. Some are only one year contracts.)

So please, if you have any doubts about whether you can be away from your friends and family and pets or if you really enjoy eating in restaurants, or can't live without your Internet (or Internet games) for at least a year, DON'T DO IT! Unless of course you have plenty of money to spend and don't mind having an entire island speculating on what made you leave and why you came in the first place.


Something To Seriously Consider

If you love your high speed DSL or digital internet access you are getting in the States, you may seriously want to factor that into your decision to come to Kwaj.

We do not have high speed internet, we have dial-up for home users. There is some wireless access available in a few places but all of it is transmitted across the same satellite and I just have to say, Internet over satellite leaves a lot to be desired.

Up to this point, it didn't seem like that big of a deal but I spent over an hour last night editing all of the photos I wanted to post so that it wouldn't take 8 years for them to upload and I couldn't get one to upload to save my life. This is happening more and more it seems.

You want to know the worst part? I work directly with the Internet as part of my job function here and there just isn't anything (at this time) that can be done about it. There are all kinds of plans in the works for making some drastic changes but everything, I mean everything takes a very long time to come to fruition out here.

So, depending on how important Internet access is to you, you may just keep this in mind if you are planning to come to Kwaj.


Please Stand By..... *Updated Again*

I've got a lot of posting to catch up on, but it's going to have to wait a bit. We're in the middle of moving and the phone hasn't gotten connected yet so I will be updating the blog as soon as I can.

Here are the topics I will be posting on as soon as I get re-connected:
  • Trip to Pohnpei
  • Sailboat racing
  • Sailboat trip
  • Holidays on Kwaj
  • My Mom coming to visit
  • Condition of my bike

Stay tuned!

Update 12/02/09: I've been told I will be reconnected Saturday December 5th. That's the day my Mom arrives on Kwaj so it will probably be a couple of days before I get back to the posting.

Update 12/09/09: Finally got reconnected yesterday, posting tonight after work.