Friday, January 29, 2010

Saipan Skies

Okay, so we didn't take a lot of photos of rainy days but here is a small collection of some gorgeous skies over Saipan. What do you see in the first two cloud photos? The photo of both girls in the sunset was from Friday night. Sending some warmth and sunshine your way. We hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Picnic continued...

So, we went to our two favorite stops on our way to Wing Beach for a picnic. However, Amelia found some fresh papaya and coconut near the beach! :-) The picnic pictured clockwise starting at nine o'clock is: Titiyas (sort of a sweet tortilla made with coconut juice), apigigi (tapioca and coconut cooked in banana leaf - another photo of it unwrapped as well), salted red skin peanuts roasted with slivers of garlic, makupa (mountain apples - crisp and tart - they hang down like bells from a tree. They're called Jambu Merah in Indonesia.), wrapped chicken kelaguin, bananas and a bag of sweet potato chips.

Wing Beach is our favorite beach so far. It's so natural and beautiful and we usually have the place to ourselves. Here the girls spend time doing some of their favorite things. Amelia - embracing the sea, Elise -  collecting little treasures and Norah - catching some rays and rest in Mom's arms!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shopping for a picnic...

We've had around 10 days of very windy, cloudy and rainy, rainy, rainy days so we thought we'd take advantage of the nice weather on Thursday and have a beach picnic. We shopped at our two favorite stores on the way to the beach. The first one is Marg's Kitchen. The woman holding Norah is Rita Cabrera. The kids will be playing with her niece's kids later this week. In another blog we'll have to share some of the clapping games Amelia and Elise have learned playing with some other local kids. I especially get a kick out of Rock, Paper, Scissors Saipan Style. :-)

Marg's Kitchen is a great place to get sweets and meals at a very reasonable price. We especially like the homemade lemonade (limes I think). A very tall icy glass for only 65 cents. The girls like the brownies for dessert and I really like the bread pudding. A super large block for under a dollar. For meals we like chicken kelaguin and tamales gisu...both have spanish and pacific islander influences.

Our next stop was the Saipan Fresh Market. There are lots of markets like this but we seem to end up at this one a lot. This is where the girls like to get fresh coconuts and bananas. For a dollar you get to drink the juice out of the coconut then they'll use a long hatchet type knife to crack the coconut in two pieces and scrape the inside with a scraping tool, then you get to eat the soft, jelly coconut. There's a photo here of local ginger. They said that this is used to make teas and other drinks. Either way, both local and regular ginger sells for around $1.50/pound. Much better price than at home! The purplish thing is a banana flower or heart. I was told this is very tough and needs to be sliced thinly and cooked a long time. The girls are seen holding a local mango and jackfruit. Next blog entry we'll talk about the picnic! :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010


Norah is growing up fast! She's been very interested in food for the last few weeks and has even sampled a few things. She LOVES watermelon and coconut juice the best so far. Here is a photo of her latest achievement. She has been doing the "gorilla sit" for about a week now. Here she is about 10 seconds before she face flopped to the bed. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tooth Fairy in Saipan!

Saturday at breakfast Elise lost her first tooth!!! Yea!!! That tooth had been hanging by a thread for a few days. And it was perfect timing because in the book we've been reading, Junie B. Jones Toothless Wonder, Junie just lost her tooth, too! So, it was very exciting Sunday morning to learn that yes, the tooth fairy does come to Saipan. :-)

...a little side note. Saturday night, Brent, our friend from Guam told Elise that when he was a little boy the tooth fairy would leave $100 under his pillow. Luckily the tooth fairy does not leave $100 under the pillows in Saipan (at least not our pillows). Brent, we can't wait to tell your little boy that story when he gets bigger. ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Street Market Scenes

We thought you might enjoy some more shots of Garapan Steet Market. We decided to get dessert this time. Delicious! We had the Ginatang Bilo Bilo (in the big metal pot). The description is tropical fruits in coconut. Here's a link that shows a good photo and a recipe. In the family photo Norah is looking pretty unhappy....she wanted some coconut juice! :-)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Girls!

So, we've had a request for some updated pictures of the girls! Never a problem. :-) Here's a few shots of us having some fun around Garapan. Norah is just about 4 1/2 months (can you believe it???), Amelia just turned 9 and Elise is 6(and 3/4) and about to lose her first tooth! We're wondering what the tooth fairy brings in Saipan.  We hope you enjoy these. We especially like the ones of Norah in her first Bob Marley shirt, Amelia under water and Elise snuggling with her little sister at night. Have a great Wednesday, Iowa!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saipan Real Estate 101

There is a huge difference in the ends of the housing spectrum in Saipan. We're not sure if this is due to lack of pride in ownership. (Currently land can only be owned by descendants of the Northern Mariana Islands - Chomorro or Carolinian - this is only about 22 percent of the population.)  Or if a large part of the problem is due to the immigration of foreign contract labor workers under the previous Commonwealth Northern Mariana Island immigration laws. These people can't own the land and cannot afford decent housing so often live in makeshift barracks - made from shipping containers and tin roofed, dirt floored shacks.  Minimum wage in Saipan is around $4.50/hour. The reason Isra is working here is because of the Federalization of the immigration laws. This means that the federal immigration laws are now being applied and will hopefully eliminate the problems that come from human trafficking. Here's one link for more info on the problems created under the old laws. Sorry for this reality check! We'll have more upbeat news next time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Garapan Street Market

We are staying in Garapan, Saipan which is one of many villages on the island. Every Thursday night there is a street market where local food is sold at pretty reasonable prices. (It about killed me to pay almost $10 at the grocery store today for a pound of strawberries! Groceries are very expensive.) Anyway, the street market is a great way to get a good meal and try something new. Lots of different types of food are offered - sort of representing the various groups of people on the island. Just a few include Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and my favorite groups: the Chamorros and Carolinians. Chamorros were probably the original people of the island with Carolinians not too far behind. They tend to use lots of coconut in many dishes or spicy peppers. We definitely ate too much and washed it down with lots of coconut juice!

I'll post a bunch of photos here of the market. I tried to take photos of the signs with the ingredients listed. This will help give you a taste of the Chamorro language as well. Let me know if it's too hard to see and I'll try to type it out.

Sorry to hear about your blizzard Sioux City! We're trying to send some warmth your way. :-)