Marshall Islands

I don’t know what your motivation is in wanting to “escape” to exotic lands, meet new friends and experience special cultures and customs but, for me I was just tired of the same old same old. I had lost my fiance to another man. No she didn’t die, although that probably would have been better – I caught her with another man, honestly!

I was burnt out of my law enforcement job in a large urban city and the one way 45 minute drive to work every morning left me with just enough time to realize I really wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

So one night sitting at my desk feeling depressed, drunk and alone I decided to Google” the words, “overseas employment”. The web site who chose to publish this article you are currently reading was only listed a few links down. I added Escapeartist.com to my favorites list and moved on down the never ending list of mostly rubbish links.

Eventually I found what I was looking for and given my background was accepted for a position overseas in the Balkans working for a private security company. That job was ok but, I was still missing something. I just didn’t get to experience the “true” Balkan nations due to the fact that I was constantly working. When I wasn’t working I was behind thick concrete walls guarded by soldiers 24 hours a day.

Africa came next, followed by some other “high-risk” environment and yet another. Just as I was about to go to Iraq and test fate once more I learned from a friend about a job in the Marshall Islands. He had worked out there for a few years in-between other overseas “security” contracts and told me it was just what I was looking for.

The next day I groggily awoke and went through my morning routine when I remembered what my friend had told me. I put aside what I was working on, sat down at my computer and typed in the name of the Island I was hoping to gain employment on; “Kwajalein”.

Sure enough, just as my friend had preached, the company I’m currently working for was listed on a web site I found and they were hiring. I sent them a resume and in a week I was on a plane bound for Honolulu. I had a one day layover there and was put up in a very nice hotel right on the beach at the company’s expense.

The night before my final flight from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands I sat on a Hawaiian beach drinking a mixed drink from a coconut with one of those colored umbrellas stuck in it. As I sat there I couldn’t help but feel relaxed and as I looked up into the cloudless, starry night and listened to the waves gently crash onto the shore, I finally thought I had found my place in paradise. I could only hope the Marshall Islands was this beautiful and pleasurable. In as little as a day’s time I was about to find out first hand.

As far as I know there are only three ways to get to the Marshall Islands. Of course Hawaii is a choice, and then you have Guam or Australia. If you’re flying from Japan or some other Asian country I’m sure you’d have a stop in Guam or some other similar location.

Unfortunately, Continental Airlines seems to have a “monopoly” in place as this airline is the only major carrier who flies out here. The only other airline I know of is Air Marshall Islands or, “AMY” for short. Due to this lack of a carrier issue the prices are fixed at a very high rate because there is a demand but an almost nonexistent competition from other airlines. You’re looking at over a grand for a round trip ticket from Hawaii to the capital of the Marshall Islands, the Island of Majuro. Given that this is only about a five hour flight it truly is a rip off.

But enough of this boring crap! For those of you who don’t know, the island of Kwajalein is home to the U.S. Army Ronald Regan Missile Defense Test Site. Basically it’s what’s left over from President Ronald Regan’s “STAR WARS” program. You know…America being able to knock out of the air any other nation’s nuclear warhead equipped ICBM fired in hostility. Although the term “STAR WARS was dropped years ago, it’s basically the same thing.

In 1944 Kwajalein Island was occupied by the Japanese. In a WWII invasion known as “Operation-Flintlock”, the United States Marines raided the chain of islands in the Kwajalein Atoll starting with the northern most island, the island of Roi-Namur. Roi-Namur Island is a “sub-detachment” of the main army installation on Kwajalein.

Regrettably, the only way most of the readers here are going to be able to visit the island of Kwajalein or Roi-Namur is if you to get a job out here and obtain a U.S. Government Clearance. Don’t waste your time though!

The Marshall Islands, other than the two islands mentioned above, are open to any world citizen as long as you have a passport. I’m not sure of visa requirements from other countries so if you plan on visiting this place it’s up to you to find out for yourself in advance.

What do I know about the other islands being that I’m a government employee you ask? Well, I just happen to visit many outer islands on camping trips, fishing trips, snorkeling trips and scuba diving trips. Oh, if you’re a diver, the waters out here are crystal clear and warmer than the bath or shower you took last night. World class diving! In fact, various diving magazines have classified this place as one of the top five dive spots in the world.

The Marshall Islands is literally littered with hundreds of small uninhabited islands just ready for exploration. The only catch is you must first obtain permission from the actual island owner first. Yes, believe it or not, every single island has a land owner. Getting permission is actually very easy. All it takes is a simple form submitted to the Marshall Island's government. In a lot of cases all it takes is a knowing and befriending the local nationals and going along with them when they go. It’s kind of like cutting out the middle-man, so to speak.

Actually, this is where the “meat” of this article comes into play. For me, what matters most after living here for a few years is the actual islanders themselves; the Marshallese people. I learned years ago that in order to truly experience a different country one must adventure out and live amongst the local nationals as if you are one in the same. This is actually easier said than done in some countries, though.

What I’m talking about is getting away from “ordinary” average tourist stopover. The Marshall Islands has thousands of individual souls living a very modest existence on many outer islands where there is very little money, food and even water. Living off the land and sea is common practice and the skills some of these local national residents know are priceless for any “outsider” or foreigner.

For example; I’m an avid spear-fisher. I’m not a pro or anywhere near that level but I love the sport and have been spearing for a few years now. Well, the first time I went spearfishing with a Marshallese family I was left in the dust, or “wake”, I guess is a more appropriate term.

I watched helplessly as children no doubt out matched my three hundred dollar JBL spear gun with their homemade spears of pieces of rubber and a simple thin metal shaft making head shot after head shot as they waited near the bottom to ambush the unsuspecting fish.

I was amazed at their accuracy and endurance as far as this underwater sport goes. I was three, sometimes four times their age and yet they were making me look like the greenest of greenhorns. I’m actually too embarrassed to mention my skills compared to the adults.

On another occasion I was invited by a family to an island to collect some baby sea turtles. One of my life’s goals was accomplished I’m proud to say. The goal of watching baby sea turtles actually hatch from their eggs and battle mother nature as they struggle with all their might to reach the sea. Only about one percent of the baby turtles were taken to be raised as food like pigs and cows.

On yet another occasion I was taken to an island once occupied by American WWII Marines and with my metal detector was able to find all kinds of small WWII memorabilia from small arms ammunition to even a ring! It’s even possible to dive many WWII “wrecks” – planes, aircraft, tanks; it’s just a wondrous environment!

The most wondrous, though, are the people. You’ve never met a nice people willing to give up anything for your friendship. The children are beautiful beyond belief in their true worldly innocence God himself has not forsaken.

If you want to see a people untouched and uncorrupted by modern society then this is the place for you! There is a plethora of opportunities; a life time of one time opportunities just waiting to be experienced. Of course what I’m talking about takes a little time. One just can’t simply decide to visit for a few days and expect to live what I’ve just typed.

You must truly “escape” and live the life of the locals on a daily basis. Lucky for me, escaping like this is very easy given the location of my employment. I imagine, though, if you’re serious about escaping your current world and you haven’t any or few ties to your current life, you could do this very easily.

Heck, take me for example. It took me finding my fiance with another man to finally break free from what truly was beckoning me. I finally found enough courage to “escape” leaving my old life behind forever. I could literally live off the “grid”, so to speak and find myself on an island with some of the world’s most peaceful people.