Short one today. I’m killing time while I decompress before my second dive.
I’m in Chuuk, the location of the largest aerial bombardment in military history on February 17th, 1944. US planes sunk a whole mess of ships out in the lagoon, and now it’s a big underwater museum.
I was the only person on the boat today, so my Chuukese guide, Mackenzie (don’t ask), took me out for a private dive in the Fujikawa Maru. It was an aircraft transport with six holds. We went into the second hold, where there were six Japanese Zero fighters in fairly good condition. I hopped in and sat in one of the cockpits.
Another hold had machine gun parts. Someone had spelled out a message to other divers in bullets, but it had fallen apart too much to read.
The next hold was littered with saki bottles. My guide opened one up and some saki bubbles floated to the surface.
We went down about three floors through narrow hallways and down ladders, to a depth of 90 feet. I saw the bathroom and the mess hall. We didn’t bring any lights, but surprisingly the sun was able to creep in enough to see clearly. It was more beautiful than I can describe. All varieties of coral growing everywhere. I should’ve been terrified. It was dark and scary and probably about as dangerous of a thing as I’ve ever done. But I sort of forgot to be scared.
Until, that is, we got to the stern of the ship, peeked over the side, and saw a big grey reef shark circling around. That I can handle, but when the guide started making clicking sounds to attract it over to us, I was a little panicked. I signalled to him that it was close enough and I didn’t need a more intimate encounter.
I looked back across the ship and saw bubbles rising from several places. I thought we had company so I went back to wave hi, then realized it was our own bubbles from when we were inside still making their way to the surface.
It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. The irony of the whole thing really got me. It felt haunted and moribund, but at the same time it was teeming with life.
Chuuk itself is not that nice of a place. A lot of corruption in the government has led to a very poor population. Alcoholism is rampant. Christian churches are littering the island like fast food chains. Yesterday I ran into a Baptist Minister named Tom and he took me around the island. He was a nice guy. We talked about theology for a couple hours and he kept trying to convert me. I brought up the whole women-subservient-to-the-man thing, which he pleaded guilty to in his way, and he could tell I was going to be a tough sell. Then I asked him about creationism, and things got even more tense.
"Let’s say I accept Christ as my personal savior, take in all the stories of the bible and learn from them and get saved and all that. Can’t I do that without believing that the world is 6000 years old and every word of the Adam and Eve story is literally true?"
"Cause the Bible says that’s how old the world is."
"The Bible traces the lineage from Adam to Jesus, and some monk in the 13th century added up the years and decided that God created the Earth 6000 years ago. After all that’s been discovered since, you’re still going with his numbers?"
Then I got him started on Mormons, which was fun. Mormons are all over the place here. They are, after all, the fastest growing busin– ahem, religion in the world. Tom the Baptist is not very fond of Mormons. He’s says they’re not really Christian, and I can sort of understand his point.
Anyway, gotta go back for my second dive. I’ve got Yap and Palau to write up still, but I was here and I haven’t updated in a while, so I’m breaking chronology. I’ve still got some old New Zealand stuff to post, actually. I haven’t talked about the Hitler tree yet! Or the dolphins!
Note: The photos used in this post were not taken by me. I grabbed them off some other person’s web site, which was a very rude, immoral thing to do — especially since I’m too lazy to include a credit or link. Do a google image search on "Fujikawa Maru" and you’ll find where they came from.