Going Down to Cowtown

A few days before we left Saipan, Brian and I took a trip up north to the Marpi area to explore Cowtown and the beach around it.  Marpi is an interesting and almost untouched area of Saipan, with lots of natural beauty.  It also has Suicide and Bonzai cliff, many different war memorials, and lots of great mountain biking trails. 
 Cowtown was going to be ranch or maybe a rodeo at some point in time, but they stopped building it; now only the sign remains.
 We started hiking down the path to the beach.
 This side of the island doesn't have a reef, so it's not really safe to swim.  The day we were there, the waves were crashing really hard against the rocky shore.

 Brian's hand is sticking out of the WWII bunker on the right side.
 That's us.

Suicide cliff towers above Marpi.  A picture of the memorial area on Suicide Cliff is here.


The day that Laura and I jumped in the pool a lot

I love hanging out with my friend Laura.  We love to go to Flametree pool, relax, and talk all afternoon (especially about books- our favorite!) 

Laura was my very first friend in Saipan, and Brian and I actually went to college in Oklahoma with her and her husband, Josiah.  Laura and Joe were the ones who convinced us to move to Saipan- and we're so glad they did.

 This is Flametree pool, the happiest place on earth. 

Then we decided to jump in the pool and take pictures.

 Ready set go!

Laura, I miss you already!!


Things I will Miss about Living in Saipan

In Taiwan, we did a post about things we were going to miss there-  read it here.  I always like to back to it and remember a little about Taipei, so I decided to make a similar list for Saipan.

Things I Will Miss about Saipan:

- running along the beach pathway
- cheap massages
- spending just about every weekend at the beach
- pearl shakes
- the jungle and the wide variety and trees and flowers
- geckos crawling up my walls and chirping outside my window
- fresh seafood- caught that morning!  cheap fish!
- you can get anywhere on the island in less than 30 minutes- fresh fruit smoothies from street market
- getting to practice speaking Chinese all the time.  No matter how incorrect I sound, I always try!
- our house on Navy Hill and the view of the ocean from our porch
- Saipan Community Church
- our friends who have become like a second family in Saipan
- the many ethnicities and cultures living so closely together on the island
- my students and coworkers at ALAI
- all of the many activities that are available on such a small island:  snorkeling, Flametree arts festival, hiking, Taste of the Marianas, races, ultimate frisbee, etc.
- the feeling of adventure and the laidback feeling of island life

These are the magazines that my mom and Aunt Carolyn have sent to Saipan.  There were more in Taiwan!  Thank you so much everybody for the care packages- they have meant so much to us the past three years!

Things I  will Not Miss about Saipan:
- stores not having things (all of our grocery items are shipped in by boat or plane)
- humidity and frizzy hair
- not being able to drive over 45 mph
- driving a stick shift!  Brian taught me how to drive a standard car after I fell of my scooter for the second time, and we bought our little blue standard Toyata. The first couple of times I drove it by myself I was so scared, especially on Saipan's hilly roads and with other drivers right on my bumper at stop lights. Now, it's no big deal, but when I drive my friends' automatic cars, they feel so easy to drive.

In other news, I'm all signed up for the 4th of July race in Kansas City with my Gram, Mom, and Aunt Carolyn!!!  It's a 4 mile race; they are going to walk it and I'm going to run it. So proud of my Gram- she's so cool.  And so excited to spend the (early) 4th of July morning with my family!


Thoughts on Leaving- Saipan Version

I seriously can't believe that in one week from today we will be boarding a plane for America.  Actually, at exact moment in one week we will be in the air!  I'm actually looking forward to the long plane ride. I always sleep a lot on Brian's shoulder, watch movies, and read read read.  My bff Kindle will be getting lots of use in the airport and on the plane!

I was packing and preparing things for our second garage sale yesterday and had a lot of thoughts on leaving running through my head.  It's always a bittersweet experience, and even though we've moved many times in the past three years, it feels fresh each time.

Thoughts on Leaving Saipan
On the plane ride to Taiwan.  Anticipating living overseas for the first time.
 Summer, 2009
Things I am looking forward to the most:

-Seeing our family and friends from home.  Hanging out with my awesome bro, drinking coffee and chatting with Brian's mom, movie/cheese dip night at my friend Tom's house, playing with my dog, meeting our new adorable niece Cambria... and a million more moments to look forward to!

Roadtrip to Florida.  August, 2009
-Roadtrips with my man, listening to music, putting my feet up on the dashboard, stopping to get out and take pictures.

-American restaurants.  Want to know the ones I'm most excited about?  Starbucks, Olive Garden, Chili's, Red Lobster, Sonic!!!

- Shopping.  I always enjoy packing for home because of the sheer amount of stuff we get rid of.  It feels good to purge and to only take home the things you really need or that mean a lot to you.

  Saipan is pretty limited in the shopping department, so I've been wearing a lot of the same clothes for two years.  Also, Saipan only has one season: hot. summer.  I'm trashing or selling a lot of my faded, old summer clothes to make room for some shopping in the states.  Could not be more excited about that!

-When I asked Brian what he was looking forward to the most, he first said, "yogurt and cottage cheese."  Ha!  Milk products are pricey here (they were in Taiwan too)- guess we know what he will be eating a lot of when he gets home!

-Brian also said he's looking forward to a new adventure, and that moving to a new place makes you think of where you've been and what you have loved about it.  We took a walk near our house last night and Brian kept saying, "Smell that tropical smell!  I'm really going to miss that.  And those jungle sounds- it's so peaceful here."  :)


Saipan Street Market

Do you want to see one of our oldest traditions in Saipan?  Brian and I have been going to Saipan's street market ever since the first week we came to Saipan, almost two years ago.  Sometimes we get a little sick of the food and stop going for a month or two, but we always come back. 
A bunch of local restaurants set up tents every Thursday night and sell food, smoothies, and island desserts.  Other vendors sell clothing and jewelry.  Street market is really popular for the locals and tourists alike.
 Street Market has recently moved to a new place in Garapan, and now it is shaded by the gorgeous, blooming flame trees.  When the bright orange blooms fall to the ground and sit in piles around the trees, Brian says it looks like the trees are bleeding. :)

 Laura and I at the market
 Some of the most popular foods at the street market are bbq'ed skewers, pearl shakes, and Asian cuisine.  Brian's favorite stand is Poons, which serves Chinese food.   

Laura, Josiah, Jennifer, and Brian 


Top of Topochau

Brian took these pictures from the top of Mt. Topochau on a bike ride earlier this week.  
Topochau is the tallest point in Saipan.  Standing on the lookout, you can see the whole island of Saipan, with the ocean stretching out on all sides.
It kind of makes you feel like you're floating on a little bitty island in the middle of the ocean.
We love to go up here to look at the beautiful view.

Here is our post from last spring when we hiked with hundreds of people to the top of Topochau on Good Friday morning.
Love this island.


Last couple of weekends

Here's a big bunch of pictures from the last two weekends in Saipan.  
Above, us girls after church.  Amy, Anna, Becky, me, Lynnette, Kara, and Alison.  

Saying goodbye to these girls at the nail salon and crying just bit. :)
Girls night at Mandi Spa at Marianas Resort
In the infinity pool overlooking the ocean- the best place to watch the Saipan sunset!

 We went to Obyan Beach on Memorial Day.  We made a fire and cooked fish and smores, and some of us swam over the reef to snorkel in the open ocean.

I swam over the reef with Brian, Matt, Amy, and Alison, but my mask had a leak and kept filling up with water every two minutes.  I had to keep coming back up and emptying it out... so I didn't really see much this time.  Brian has been out past the reef many times and he has seen sea turtles, squid, rays, and a lot of other sea creatures.
Chillin at Obyan
Matt, Nate, and Brian

Brian and I went to Aqua Resort on Friday night to celebrate our four year anniversary!
Beach reading- I love my kindle.  Saipan mail can be very slow (one time, it took two months to receive a book ordered from Amazon), and we only have one little bookstore in Saipan.  I would definitely recommend a kindle for travelers who love to read.  It makes it so easy to buy and download books.

Hey babe, happy 4 years!
Relaxing in the hammock at Aqua Resort.

Hiking one last time at Forbidden Island.

Making the steep descent
Matt, Amy,  me, and Kara- Brian on the other side of the camera for most of these.

Hiking through the brush

Matt taking a break to look at the view

This part is really slippery and it's easier to slide down on your butt for some of it.

The end- whew that was a lot of pictures!