Monday, August 19, 2013

Jetlag, Again

My natural hair color...in 1997
Sitting awake in the middle of the night is my new hobby.  It used to be collecting baseball cards, then running, then blogging.  Now I just collect frequent flyer miles.  I got back from Pohnpei on Thursday. And my next trip is already in sight.  Between my recently completed trips and my upcoming participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, I'll have spent all of 5 1/2 days in the office out of the last seven weeks.  I started in Saipan for Joelin and Brian's wedding, spent a day in Guam in transit, then a night and a day in Pohnpei in transit, got stranded in Kwajalein for a day and a night, then a week in Majuro, the weekend in DC and two meetings on Monday, almost two weeks in Pohnpei, this week I'm in DC, and then it's back to Majuro next Tuesday for about two weeks.  A blessing some would say, but one does tire of hotels and restaurants.  Oh, and I miss my wife.

Not that travel doesn't have its perks.  I reached United 1K Premier status some time last September and now I get upgraded to business three out of nearly every four flights, not that I've been keeping track.  And Edz likes the free travel.  Last year I flew her to San Francisco, Manila, Saipan, and Orlando for free.

But before you get all jealous, it's worth pointing out that I spent all of three days in the last two months at the beach.  The photos on this blog and posted to this Facebook album are from two of those days.

You never know when you'll need a photo of a mangrove
I admit I get to go to amazing places and work with incredible people.  But I'm not out on the high seas chasing down rogue shark fishermen.  For the most part I'm sitting in conference rooms, feverishly taking notes and trying to apply what I hear to policy asks and communication products.  Last week I was an observer at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Science Committee where they were considering stock assessments for blue and silky sharks.  It's amazing to watch the back and forth between the member countries and to get to talk to them in person.  Surprisingly (or not), there is a lot of politics in science.  Some of the delegates are more than happy to talk to you.  How often do you get to talk to people from Niue and Kiribati?  And be honest, how many of you can even find those places on a map?

The Rocks of Nan Madol
Last Sunday there was a field trip for the WCPFC meeting delegates.  People from the EU, USA, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands, Australia, and maybe a few others that I'm forgetting hopped on a small boat and went snorkeling with manta rays and coral reefs.  We also visited the ruins of Nan Madol.  I've only posted four photos here, but I've got a lot more posted on Facebook.

Shark Point
There's a story in Pohnpei about this particular part of Nan Madol called Shark Point.  According to legend, before you go swimming there, you have to throw rocks into the water.  I remember doing this as a kid in Saipan.  We used to stand on the edge of Forbidden Island or Bonzai Cliff and throw rocks into the water until either a shark or a turtle, or hopefully both, would surface.  In Pohnpei, if sharks came up to the surface it meant that it was safe to jump in.  If there were no sharks, it was not safe to jump in.  While that might sound counterintuitive, if the sharks came to the surface and you jumped in, then they thought you were just another rock and would leave you alone.

So as I sit here at 3:44 AM, I am pondering what I am going to do with my 5 days in the office before I head off on another sharky adventure.  It's a bit overwhelming.  I have a lot of writing to do, phonecalls to make, and catching up to do.  And I'm going to do it while sleep deprived.  Wish me luck.

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