Ebeye Island

I remember when I was trying to decide if I was going to move to Ebeye and start a whole new chapter in my life.  I scoured  the internet for any peek at what life on Ebeye had to offer.  I found some pretty good info but it wasn’t very detailed.  Hence the desire to post what I’ve learned living on Ebeye these past two years for those who find themselves in the same position.  So if you’re thinking about taking an adventure to the islands as a missionary teacher but aren’t sure what to expect, check out the info below.  Feel free to email me with any questions.  I’d be happy to assist you in your journey any way I can.  Other islands will differ greatly in what they offer as many are not as developed as Ebeye.

Internet Connection

The island has a very good communications center called NTA – this is short for National Telecommunications Authority. A fiber optic cable was laid last year and allows Ebeye to tap into high-speed internet connections.  The cost per minute at NTA, I believe, is somewhere around 8 cents. They also offer the option of service at your place of residence. You can pay about $40/month for the slowest connection plus activation fees and essentially receive unlimited access.  The higher speed you want, obviously the more you will pay. Quick note: Kwajalein is not connected to this cable. Perhaps military reasons, but they are still on dial-up as of the date of this post.

Skype

Yes, you can Skype your friends and family from Ebeye. The connection is fast enough and the signal is good enough to show video. I would suggest getting Skype before you leave and have your friends and family get setup. Because communicating via phone is nearly impossible.

Telephone Communication

This also runs through NTA and is extremely expensive. To phone anywhere beyond the island you will pay $1.80/minute. It may be a better option to have your friends at home buy a calling card and call you. Also, if you call after midnight, the rate goes down. You must purchase a calling card from NTA which you will then use to place your call. Calling cards are $10, $20 and $50.

Cell Phones

I’m sorry to break the news but….your cell phone will not work on Ebeye. It’s a bummer I know. But if you must have a calling gadget, you can purchase a cell phone from NTA and buy minutes to use for local calls on the island. Sounds odd that an island 1 mile long would need so many cell phones but really, it does come in handy. I’m not sure the cost but you can plan to pay around $50 for a moderately featured phone.

Restaurant Dining

Indeed Ebeye has three diners that I know of along with dozens of little shops in people’s homes that sell food and goods. But the diners are located in the Triple J department store, Litaki Fast Food, and a new addition, The Little Mermaid, located in the Ebeye hotel, Anrohasa, on lagoonside. I have eaten at all three places and found the meals satisfying. Litaki and The Little Mermaid both offer mainly Asian cuisine. Triple J is a bit more American with fried chicken, cheeseburgers, French fries and chicken nuggets. One tip that I didn’t find out about until only a month ago is that you can take the ferry across to Kwajalein and call their local pizza joint, Donatos to have a pizza delivered to the check-in gate. You cannot actually enter Kwajalein because it is a military base for the U.S. (unless you have a sponsor who will sign you in.)

Recreation

Ebeye is certainly an adventure and most of the time, it’s up to you what you want to see and do. Beach Park is a small beach at the southern tip of Ebeye which is a good place for swimming and barbecuing. There are plenty of places to explore and you can always rent a water taxi (or better yet, befriend someone with a boat of their own) and head out to some of the outer islands. They are absolutely gorgeous! The fishing and surfing is also good here. There is a causeway that has connected Ebeye to Guggegue island. The northern tip of Guggegue (from what I’ve heard) is a good place to surf. Beware! There are sharks…lots of them. Mainly reef sharks…but still!

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

If you want to scuba dive, you have found the greatest place in the world for it. There is no larger, more pristine atoll than the
Kwajalein atoll. I prefer snorkeling but whichever you fancy, it will be a fabulous time. There is someone here on the island that offers scuba diving lessons. Sorry but I don’t have that information. I’ll post an update if I get it. FYI: for anyone staying on Kwajalein who happened upon this blog, you will find there is an excellent scuba diving club located there. Here’s a link to the Kwajalein Scuba Club which also has great maps of the entire area. If you live on Ebeye, I don’t think you can join, but the maps are helpful for your own exploring adventures.

Grocery and Clothing Stores

There are many small shops scattered all around Ebeye. You may never know it because they don’t advertise like we do in the U.S. But the best grocer in my opinion would be Triple J. They do a good job at keeping food on the shelves and they are cleaner and more organized with a decent variety of selections. They have frozen meat and canned goods. Items for household cleaning and so on. They even do good keeping the fresh vegetables as fresh as possible when you live on an island.  There are different little nick-knack stores and clothing stores you can peruse. I don’t know the names of all of them but one of the more popular would be Sunrise. It seems almost everywhere people have storefronts in their little homes where the kids buy candy and sugar drinks.

Transportation

The main form of transportation on the island are the taxi trucks.  They loop around the island and provide a ride for only $.75.  You can ride as long as you want.  It’s a good way to see the island to, especially if you sit in the bed of the truck – ah, and the salty ocean views are great along oceanside!  The other mode of transit – if you are a male – is bicycles.  Women are not allowed to wear pants or shorts and so we could never figure out how to get away with riding a bike, especially in the sometimes 30 mile/hour winds.  If you find a way, let us know!

Future Updates

I will continue to update this blog as I receive additional information or think of other things that might be beneficial or interesting to know. Hope this helps in your planning and packing for Ebeye. I’ve been here for two years and it has been a grand adventure for sure. You may not always get what you want, but if you stay open to what the experience can offer, I’m sure you will find this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live an island life while making a difference in this world.

Seascape Excursion

Sunshine.  Clear blue waters. Chicken marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, green peppers and onions roasting over an open fire. Add to this recipe two truck loads of energetic third graders that love their teachers and life and you’ve got a barbecue oceanside to be rivaled. We had plenty of fun this past week when my third grade class headed out to the southern tip of Ebeye for an end of quarter Beach Party to celebrate their hard work this past school year.

We decided to venture out – we being Laura, Miriam (my sweet little third grader) and me – to the edge of the coral where the ocean waves were breaking.  During high tide we would need a boat, but low tide lent itself perfectly for some exploring.

Along the way, we came across some interesting creatures and scenes.  In the distance the ocean breaks over the coral ‘drop’ wall that runs around the island.

One thing I learned was that construction crews, at one time, planted explosives into the coral bed to blow out chunks of rock to be used to build the causeway which now connects Ebeye with Gueggegue island.  In doing this, the explosives left huge open ‘pools’ in the reef that become swimming pools when high tide moves out.  Beautiful and haunting oceanscapes to say the least.

There were dozens of these pools that we found ourselves weaving around as we made our way out to the breaking waves.

We caught all kinds of little sea creatures with our camera lens. But that was about as close as we ventured to some of the strange life we saw crouched in the little coral pools and hiding under rocks.

Completely friendly, this star fish that Miriam is holding is called a Brittle Star.  It’s always a good time for some educational input.

There were sea cucumbers strewn about everywhere, as far as the eye could see. While on our exploratory excursion across the sea bed, we met a friendly local who spoke some broken English.  He was collecting sea cucumbers to cook and sell and asked us a few questions concerning our homeland and visit to the islands. He was dark and thin, cigarette tucked handily behind his right ear. He handled himself like he knew what he was doing out here amidst the exploded coral pits, slug-strewn reef and foreign-to-me world.  One thing’s for sure, the Marshallese know these teeming oceans like Americans know rush hour traffic: what’s hazardous and the best way to avoid it is paramount.

Here’s a fine example of a lovely, yet hazardous Blue Black sea urchin. Poisonous, it’s menacing look prompted us to stay away – except for a quick dip with my camera. It’s spikes are hard as steel and are used to chip away at the coral to make little ‘nests’ for them to hide and stab things…like fish.  It wasn’t going to get any of us that’s for sure!

As far out as I felt comfortable venturing with a little one in tow, I dipped my camera underwater one last time capturing some interesting footage.

We headed back to shore but not without some lasting memories of a stroll across a fantastical seascape.  God certainly made this world and all its inhabitants with such creativity and wonder.  I stand amazed at his ingenious creations.  So detailed, so painstakingly thought over, down to the last whip of color, perfectly placed spike or carefully contoured edge of a leaf.  Absolutely beautiful.  Absolutely God.

Awards, Activities Day and Beach Park

Yesterday and today we  wrapped up Awards, Activities Day and the Third grade party at Beach Park.  It was good to hang out with all the kids (who make it all worth it) and to be able to bless those who have worked hard throughout the year.  After lunch on Monday we had the first ever Activities Day (thanks to Trecie’s admin anointing) and the kids played Freeze Dance, 3 Legged Racing, Sprinting, Water Balloon Toss, B-ball, Tug-O-War and the list goes on.  Simultaneously, there were fair-type booths under the tent where they were throwing balls into baskets, trivia games, and ring toss to name a few.  I don’t think there has ever been anything like it on the island.  People were coming out of their homes and sitting on their rooftops to watch the competitions of the students.  They are all very athletic and competitive!

(Below: The Green Team.  A great pic of Mrs. Grace, our principal, on the far left.)

(Below: Robby’s Tin-Can Sailboat. He made it by snapping off the tab to cut both ends of the can and construct something that sails off…into the ocean somewhere to sink and well, you know…we continue to inform the kids of pollution and contamination of the sea so hopefully one day, things will turn around.)

Then on Tuesday my ‘children’ went to Beach Park and we all hung out for the entire day.  I got burned (again!) and that was with 50 proof…what gives??  Ms. Cherold grilled chicken with potato salad and we had cookies, cookies and more cookies ;)  Yum!  Some fun in the sun with my kiddos. (Below: Miko eating a cookie in the lagoon.)

Some of my girls came over afterward  to the house and we had more fun taking pictures, brushing hair, giving away lotions and ribbons and all that fun girlie stuff :)

(Below: from left, Therizo, Faith, Harvest)

It was back to school on Wednesday where we played games, drew pictures (which hopefully I will be able to post the kids’ art on the blog for everyone to see – they are really cute!)  We had a birthday for Anna with pizza and prizes.  Then some of my kids came over to the house and we watched a movie.

Once my skin turns to a normal shade of ‘tan’, maybe we’ll head back to the beach again!  Taking advantage of the fringe benefits is a necessity:)

(Left: from top, Anna, Therizo, Harvest, Faith)