A Day Out to Laura Beach
Take the tour! Join me with a group of cruisers and their friends as we ride in a commuter van and a pick-up truck on a land voyage to Laura. We were 15 in total and stopped in some quite surprising places…
Tobolar: The copra processing plant
It’s the smell that you really notice even before you walk into the vast storage hall at Tobolar, Majuro’s copra processing plant at Delap Dock. The aroma is not totally over-powering and nor is it unpleasant, but it certainly permeates everything in its vicinity. As you wander into the hall everything is a shade of brown, from the paler beige innards of the copra shells to the darker brown ‘dust’ that forms a matt covering of the entire interior.
Ahead of time we had organized for a tour with the marketing man Mison Levai, who of course was the A-Z directory of everything to with turning the hard-earned copra into oils, beauty products, and meal for farm animals (and more…). In fact, on the day we were there, a bunch of employees were stacking plastic bags of animal meal into a container, which was soon to be exported to Australia.
Sea Patrol: The RMI’s water police service
The Australian Government generously provided the Marshall Islands — and a number of other regional nations — with an Australian patrol boat. Called Lomor, the vessel is based at the Sea Patrol area just opposite Tobolar at Delap Dock.
The Royal Australian Navy also provides two officers to work with their Marshallese counterparts on a consultant basis. The officers and their families live in a compound in Long Island, delightfully called Wallaby Downs.
Every year on April 25 the officers host a dawn service commemorating ANZAC Day, which is one of Australia’s most important national occasions as it marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Australians who are in Majuro on April 25 should contact the Sea Patrol officers on (692) 625-7234.
Marshalls Energy Company Power Plant
Lots of big noise and a little bit of energy knowledge courtesy Marshalls Energy Company’s Bermen Laukon made for an interesting 20 minute stop at the Power Plant, just a few hundred yards west of Tobolar. For me, the blast was walking into one of the main engine rooms where the noise is at fantastic levels. The energy company is now divesting itself away from relying on fossil fuels with a huge solar panel grid being set up near the airport.
For people who want to refill their propane bottles, you first pay at MEC’s Small Island office, and then go to the Tank Farm opposite the Power Plant (your taxi driver will know where it is), hand the guys your receipt and your bottle will be filled.
You can contact MEC on (692) 625-3827 or check out their website at http://mecrmi.net/
Majuro Atoll Waste Company
Okay, okay… I realize a visit to the town’s main dump doesn’t exactly fit the tourist bill, but yet again our small group of wanderers had fun learning about what’s known as Majuro’s Mountain. After leaving the Power Plant we journeyed over The Bridge and onto Long Island, where within 15 minutes or so we arrived at Majuro Atoll Waste Company (MAWC). Our tour guide was former Dartmouth College volunteer, Kat Hicks, who now works at MAWC (as well as coaching a championship-level softball team). A highlight of the tour was a visit to the carpenters’ area, where they make things such as fish drying tables that are sold to the public. MAWC also sells compost for gardens. Contact them on (692) 247-2700.
The Clam Farm
Robert Reimers Enterprises started a clam farm a few decades ago that was subsequently sold to the Florida firm Oceans, Reefs & Aquariums (ORA). The giant clams, as well as some types of coral, are grown at the Long Island oceanside facility, which is a 15-minute drive west of the dump. The ornate little clams are shipped off-island and sold as features for aquariums both big and small. Our host for the half hour visit was Jacob Applebaum. To read more about how the clam farm works, you can visit the ORA site at http://www.orafarm.com/about/mimf/
Picnic at Laura Beach
Ah! The destination: Laura Beach and its handy-dandy covered picnic tables that look out over the ocean and east to Rongrong isle. There is a $1 entry fee for adults, but this comes with bonuses: The caretakers look after cleaning the park and as well as picnic tables provide toilet facilities for men and women (which even had toilet paper on the day we visited). Extremely popular on the weekend, on the day we visited, there was just one other group enjoying the area. There is plenty of space for ball games (or croquet?) and if the tide is high enough, it has nice snorkeling. (Note: Be wary if you or one of your group is not a good swimmer as there can be strong currents depending on the tide.)
Our group, however, was more interested in laying out the taste treats they’d prepared for the potluck lunch. And the best thing about potlucks? Everyone makes the dish he or she does best, so our lunch was rather grand and extremely yummy!
A short stop at Island Radio
A majority of our tour group were cruisers enjoying a few months in the Marshall Islands, so a stop at Laura’s Island Radio store was a must. Owned by David Utter, the little store — which is just five minutes from the beach on the lagoonside road — carries all sorts of radios, including HF (single side band), and their accompanying accessories, such as antennas. David also stocks beach gear, so if you arrive at Laura without the necessary swimming equipment, Island Radio can help you out. He also has a little ‘cafe’ at the front of the store where you can buy cold drinks and ice creams.
Time to go home, so we hopped back in the vehicles and did the 45-minute (or so) drive back to downtown. Thanks to the drivers and thanks to everyone else on the tour: Great company and a great day of learning about Majuro!