The steamy heat of the day fluttered away as the scorching sun hid its fiery face behind its blanket of blue. The straggling glimmers of light cast a golden shadow on the leafy mountainside and pierced through the towering palm fronds that line my village pathway. A group of little children giggled and skipped in a circle around me as we strode towards our houses in the jungle. We were leisurely strolling away from the beach where we had been playing volleyball and enjoying a lazy afternoon.
A mass of grey clouds came rolling over the peaks of our island and someone causally remarked, “epwene pung ran (its going to rain)”. The pace of our walk didn’t change; the onset of rain is not an alarm but rather a simple observation. The sprinkles trickled down for a few seconds and then a barrel of water dumped from the sky. We stepped to the side and stood under the umbrella leaves of a giant tree. Within 30 seconds, the heavy downpour was over and we resumed our happy tropical trek.
The migration of island walkers was not only comprised of children; people of all ages take part in our daily waterside hangout. In Chuuk, status and authority is often determined by age, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from spending social time with others. It is true that people often tend to spend most of their time with their general age group, but intergenerational social interactions are commonplace. The oruur (dock area) is the place where everyone unites to take a break form their chores and relax in the late afternoon. The unusual mishmash of people creates a very interesting social scene. 5-year-old girls hang on the shoulders of their thuggish brothers, old men limp along with their canes, fledgling babies suckle at the teats of their mothers, teenagers blast music from their cell phones, outcast men drink rum on the rusted remains of a boat, and everyone seems to get along in a happy and harmonious manner.