After a nice, relaxing (and fully paid-for by Hawaiian Airlines) couple of days of a mini-vacation touring around Honolulu, on Monday we were prepared to head out to our new life and home in Yap.
We woke up on time, arrived at the airport well ahead of schedule, and even got our tickets and were checked in without incident. Then we inquired at the ticket counter about the four pieces of luggage that we assumed were waiting for us patiently until our new flight. When we were first waylaid in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines even nicely called us to confirm that our luggage was 'all accounted for'. However, on the morning of our flight, the airline told us that apparently only three of our bags had made it, and instructed us to query the ticket counter at our final destination!
As we sat waiting for our plane to board, we wondered about which lost, lonely piece of luggage would not be joining us. Would it be suitcase #1 with all Mike's clothes, suitcase #2 with Miranda's clothes, suitcase #3 with the PlayStation and our collection of movies, or a large tub of our kitchen items such as pots and pans?
Nevertheless, we got on the plane and began a long flight to Yap. Originally, our itinerary called for a direct flight from Honolulu to Guam. Since we missed that one, the only available flight was on the so-called 'island hopper' plane. True to it's name, it meanders from the east to west among the various islands of Micronesia, in short 30min to 1.5 hour hops. As a result, we were treated to a tour of every major town in the island chain, or at least of their various airports. From Honolulu, we first hit Majuro, where we were able to get off and stretch our legs at the little waiting area/bar while a security sweep of the aircraft was performed. From there, we hopped over to Kwajalein, a tiny military installation on 3-mile long outcropping of rock with little more than an airfield. Next was Kosrae, with it's verdant, jungle covered mountains and bright blue waters that gave us a taste of what Yap might be like. The capital of Micronesia, Pohnpei, was next followed in rapid succession by Chuuk, and finally, Guam.
Compared to the tin-roofed buildings and runways of patchwork asphalt we had seen previously, Guam was like an oasis of modernity. The airport was like a high-end luxury mall, with it's Gucci and Rolex retail shops. More importantly, we had our last taste of American-style fast food at the food court Burger King, but after a half-dozen takeoffs and landing, neither of us could finish our dinner.
After the layover, we had an uneventful hour ride to Yap. Since it was nighttime, the only aerial view of the island was the lights of the runway and a few little dots of scattered about the island from various houses. After getting off the plane, we were greeted by a pair of traditionally dressed and shirtless natives who presented us each with a band of flowers and woven palm fronds to drape around our necks. Getting through through immigration and customs was a quick and easy affair after telling them Mike was employed by the AG's office. They even informed us that someone was waiting to pick us up, and that they were glad we arrived after our no-show on Tuesday night!
The moment of truth came when a pickup loaded with all the luggage on the plane was backed up into the small building that comprised the airport terminal. Mike was very relieved when Suitcase #3 with the PlayStation was there, along with the clothes. Turns out the tub wasn't on board, so no pots and pans for us this week. Oh well. We won't be cooking much, but at least we won't lack for entertainment.
Out front of the airport, one of Mike's co-workers, Bill, and a local police officer, were there to greet us. Considering we were the only bewildered-looking American couple on the plane, we weren't hard to identify. They loaded up our 200+ pounds of baggage drove it and us back to our new tropical home, identified by a big sign over the doors as Quarter #37. After a brief tour in the middle of the night, and some shocking encounters with a couple of giant-sized roaches that had occupied the place, we fell asleep quickly, wondering what adventures tomorrow would bring.