Friday, September 14, 2007

Reminders of What We've Got

I saw this live Conus Striatus on a dive at Lau Lau last Tuesday, and for those who don't know, it's the 2nd most deadly cone shell in the world. My shell collection has gone back to where it came from now, but I still enjoy seeing the shells and taking pictures of them, especially now that I have a little more knowledge about them. I owe all that to my dive buddy Doug, who has been teaching me their names for several years now. Actually I owe my renewed passion about diving to Doug who got me to start looking for new and unique things on my dives and opened up a whole new world to me down there. All the sudden I started discovering all kinds of things I had never seen before. I realized that if you got right down next to the bottom and looked carefully in every little hole or crack you would find all kinds of cool things. Tiny little cleaner shrimp, nudibranchs, anemone, Leaf Scorpionfish and the list goes on and on.

A couple recent things have made me stop and think about what we have on Saipan, and how thankful I am for what we do have. I was reading Tami's blog, Seaweed, Sand & Sunsets the other day when she was talking about her friend from Guam and his reaction to seeing a Kingfisher. By the way, Tami is one of the newest bloggers out there, and if you haven't checked out her blog yet you really should, it's quickly becoming one of my favorites. But back to the friend and the Kingfisher, he was totally excited at seeing it because they don't have any of them on Guam, the brown tree snakes have nearly wiped out the Guam bird population. He slammed on the brakes of the car and just sat there watching it for 5 minutes. When is the last time you spent any time just watching a beautiful Kingfisher? I'm guessing it's probably been a while, most of us just take them for granted because they are always around. Having beautiful Kingfishers to look at is definitely one advantage of Saipan over Guam. And it's one of the things that we should remind ourselves of, one of those little daily blessings in our lives that we probably don't even recognize.

The other thing that got me to thinking was a conversation I had with someone recently. She is currently living in Pohnpei. Now I have heard some very cool things about Pohnpei and this is in no way meant to just be a criticism of their islands, it's just all in your perspective. She was telling me that she was frustrated because here she was living on a tropical island with beautiful coral reefs and ocean surrounding it, but she couldn't dive it because there is no longer a dive shop on Pohnpei. In fact there isn't even a compressor anywhere they can use to fill their scuba tanks. So there she is with her dive gear, living on what should be a tropical paradise, but unable to experience the wonders of the underwater world because there is no dive shop or compressor.

Then she told me about their power and water situation. The one thing that is predictable about it is that you never know when you'll have it. Communications are difficult because the internet connections leave a lot to be desired, and the health care problems and challenges are staggering. Restaurants are a gamble to eat at, you just never know whether the food will be prepared with hygiene in mind or not. Rats seem to be running everywhere, and garbage is also a real challenge. Shopping was more than depressing as she said when she went to buy bread there, you could tell it has been frozen and frozen dozens of times, and has an expiration date of at least 6 months previous. Everything they get there seems to be a discard from somewhere else.

She was telling me how much she was loving her time on Saipan because it has so much civilization and things are so nice here. She said we have reliable power, we have very nice restaurants, the internet connections are fabulous, we have great diving and dive shops to fill our tanks and the people were all extremely friendly. Seeing Saipan through her eyes helped to remind me that we do have it pretty good here. Sure we've got some problems and challenges, but we've still got an awful lot to be thankful for. Sometimes it's just too easy to concentrate on all the problems and not look at all the blessings we have. I think a lot of us need to be reminded that the blessings still far outweigh the problems and challenges and that this is still an awesome place to live. I know that a lot of people just want to leave and never see this place again, many of which are native to these islands. But if you need a reminder of why this is such a cool place to live, give me a call, I'll show you some Kingfishers and take you diving.