Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Abundance of Photos: Touring Saipan

So that's Saipan in a nutshell!  And my Daily Dose Thoughts as we went :)  But those few posts do no justice to the beauty of the island, and all the things we saw.  So this post has no real purpose other than to share some of the amazing things that are in the world - things I often forget about and don't get to see or experience living in a crowded city, and working in an area where I am assulted with noise and chaos, missing out on the natural abudnace of the world.  I hope you'll enjoy some of the pictures, too :)

Driving into downtown Garapan.  Ok, yes, this area has less nature and more man-made stuff

But most of the roads were surrounded with lush vegetation!

A quick game of chess...
*note: fine, fine.  We didn't REALLY play.  This was already set up.  As some
of my brainy friends pointed out, the way the king and queen are set, this layout
would be impossible if we followed the game rules :-P

Visiting the Memorial Park.  This island has a sad history of loss during the war.
This Park honors all sides, and mourns all loss.

Christmas!!!  They were setting up many decorations while we were there.

The gorgeous front lobby of our hotel

It boggled my mind at first to see pine trees along the beach!

More Memorials at Banzai Cliff - where hundreds of people
jumped when they were afraid of becoming prisoners of war

Old war remains

War bunker.  It was intersting to see this place, but also incrredibly moving and sad.

Cacti Graffiti

Polynesian drummers!

"Hafa Adai!" the local greeting!  (Pronounced "half a day")

I don't know why, but I loved the salt and pepper shaker!  Cute and colorful :)

Being a tourist!   Had to get a pic with Saipanda!

Beautiful Blue Tree


Small model of traditional houses. 
I don't think you could really find these houses anymore.

Local crafts

Saying goodbye :(
The view from my window as we flew away.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peace and Beauty in a Tropical Paradise

After a week in the glorious Pacific, I felt rejuvenated and relaxed.  Don't forget tot ake time to take care of yourself!

While Stress can sometimes push you through a hard time, too much of it will burn you out.  It taxes your blood pressure, your mental focus, and runs down your adrenal glands. 

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.." --Philippians 4:8 (The Message Bible)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful Thanksgiving, and More Island Foods

*Note: I appologize for the layout issues! I am getting quite tired of blogger's frustrating layouts, and may move to another site in the future...*

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

"Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts." ~Alan Cohen

We had a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving - two dinners and a Pie Night! Oi, so much food!!! So I thought I'd share some more of the wonderful (and sometimes odd) foods we saw while on island.

While the holiday was rife with heavy foods, we did take a few steps to try to remain natural. So, Dave was excited to buy some local lemons so we could enjoy our enzyme-rich morning glass of lemon water! ...but, of course, he was also excited to find Starbucks coffee for half the price they are here. (Since there are no Starbuck shops on island, they are not some big name brand, and they have to keep prices pretty normal there! It was about $2 for the 4 pack you see my dearest hubby putting in our mini fridge.) Ah well, at least he also has the lemon water in hand :)

The first odd thing... we saw these plants, and I thought they were quite peculiar looking! It wasn't until later that we learned these are Betle Nut trees! (Though, the spelling differed depeneding where we were...)

Apparently, betle nuts are a traditional "food" item among some of the locals. According to Wikipedia, "Usually for chewing, a few slices of the nut are wrapped in a Betel leaf along with lime and may include clove, cardamom, catechu (kattha), etc. for extra flavoring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but it can be bitter depending on the variety" This is then chewed, and gives a mild stimulating effect, similar to that of drinking a cup of coffee. And in the Philippines, chewing these is believed to help strengthen the teeth and gums

Here's Wiki's picture of prepared Betel Nuts
While I like the idea of trying new things, and experiencing culture... this was not a tradition in which I felt like partaking. The health downside: a quick PubMed search shows this habit may be linked to reproductive issues including low birthrates and premature deliveries, and possibly heart disease. And then there is the cosmetic downside: as you chew, your mouth becomes stained with the red juices! We were told you can tell who chews, because their teeth will be red. And, many people will spit their reddened saliva onto the ground. Yum, right?

So we saw these signs everywhere:

We avoided betel nuts, but I did love their bakeries!! Fresh, local bread with such a short ingredient list!

I had to wonder how true that list was, though. That bread was too soft and delicious! I couldn't help but be skeptical!
So, those were some of the foods we found. Then there were foods we were served. We spent one day with the staff of a nutrition clinic enjoying a wonderful thanksgiving meal, with all the traditional foods like stuffing, turkey, corn, etc. And there were a few other additions! Some salsa-like relishes and shrimp chowder.

And the next day, we got a second Thanksgiving meal with another friend who had moved from the mainlands to the island for a few years. So much food! After dinner with her family, we went to Pie Night - everyone brought their leftover pies to share! Share the calories, right?!

So, admittedly, it was not the most natural or healthy of holidays for me this time around, but it was full of love and friendship, even half a world away from our families.

Enjoying a fruit drink and fresh fruit on the beach for breakfast! What a way to start a day!
I hope you all had a wonderful, fun-filled holiday! And maybe got to take a walk somewhere in there, or had a smoothie or salad... or at least let yourself be filled with joy!

Hugs to you all :)


Saipan Fresh Markets!

We got to experience the Tuesday night market in Garapan. It was, all at once, completely normal, and totally new! I love farmers markets, and have been to several - so in a way, seeing all the little tents lined up, and foods displayed was just like home. ...Until you look closer, and realized you don't recognize anything!!

What's a girl to do?
Try it all!

They were very friendly people there - when you didn't know what something was, they'd try their best to explain how it tasted, how you prepare it. Or, when all else fails, just shove one in your hand and tell you to take a bite! That was how I got to experience my first guava! Delicious! I'm sad they are not available here in Ohio :(

We also go "coconut juice" which would have been great... but they added sugar to it. Sad... something so simply wonderful, and they had to dump in processed junk! Ah well, it still tasted good, and was more exploring of culture, since that's the popular way to do it! (I'll keep mine fresh from the nut next time, thank ya!)
Here was an actual catering stand - they had the most variety, mostly processed foods they'd already made.

So, of course, we had to try some new items.

Not exactly the most natural of foods... I mean, would you look at that neon orange?! But it's local rice cake (coconut milk, rice, and sugar all blended into a smooth texture) so we wanted to see what it tasted like.

Quite good, really! Creamy and somewhat chewy, sweet and mild.
Then there was sweet rice (rice, coconut milk, brown sugar, not blended.) Very similar, but Dave preferred this one.

And then we had to try the "Eat like a Local Plate." So VERY not healthy!!! And I really didn't eat much of it - picked at the rice, and ate the (uber oily) veggies. Then Dave enjoyed all that many meaty stuff ;-) (And yes, hot dogs are apparently a local staple there, as well!)

We took our little tray, walked to the back of the market where we found a nice log, sat, and ate our food while the sun set. Oh, and had a friendly neighborhood mole run out and squeek at us! I guess they're common there!

The market all lit up!

We went back to our hotel, where they finally convinced us to get the free foot massage, and then coaxed us into the pedicure - yep, Dave too! But I'll share about that later, and the unnaturalness of that! (Even though I did enjoy going crazy with blue
toes with butterflies... it's something you may want to keep in moderation!)
After that, a good sleep, and then the next morning, day three on the lovely beaches!

And I got to start my morning off with fresh guava! YUM! Ok, admittedly, this stuff has one heck of a potent smell!! Dave was whining about it the night before, so I stuck it in the fridge. And - oh MAN! Opened the fridge in the morning and was about knocked over by the gush of guava scent! It's not a bad smell, just so strong when so fresh! Guavas have no cholesterol, saturated fat, or sodium; and they have all these wonderful nutrients: potassium, folate, a good 5g of cleansing fiber, and skin-so-soft helping Vitamins A and C - over 200% of your need of Vitamin C in one fruit!

Now that's a nice way to start a morning!

And I also got to try some local oranges that morning (yep, going Vitamin C happy!)

It turns out, the cold nights in California and Florida are what help give oranges their namesake peel. With nothing but warms and tropical weather year round, Saipan oranges aren't orange! They're green! But still sweet, juicy, tart, and delicious!

So after I enjoy my fruit breakfast, we go and relax on the beach some more. I mean, come on, who could refuse??

So that was our experience with the local food and market - more good memories!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fun Creatures of the Island

Time out from health and nutrition to share the fun wild creatures we saw while we were there! I suppose to me, this was a health thing. Nature and living critters (most) are a thing that bring me happiness and peace. Where I live and work, it is just a cacauphony of chaos! I walk past busy streets with blaring horns and thumping radios; I walk past exhaust-exhuding parking garages; and I walk past smoking coal factories. Ugg! So I welcome the quite life and the natural creatures as a break from all the man-made machines.

Ahhh, peace. :)

So, first! Boonie Dogs! Stray animals are viewed as just the way of life there. No one really claims them, but no one really minds them either. I'm not exactly sure how they survive, but they were everywhere!

And of course, Dave and his love of catching gekos...

We would walk along the beach and find many little sand crabs, too! This one was a little baby guy. How cute!

I'm still not sure what kind of moth this one is... anyone? It made me think of a deck of playing cards!

We saw several hermit crabs. Both small ones...

...and big ugly ones!

I LOVE the coloring and spotting on this red guy! So crazy!

Such amazing variety in creatures! My general rule is - as long as it has more than 2 legs but less than 4, I'm usually ok. But I suppose I may make an exception for the hermit crab... depending how you define "legs" with them! ;-)