Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our week and tips, tips, and tips!!!

So it seems that I’ll be doing weekly updates instead of daily =P It’s amazing how busy you can be doing nothing all day! This last week has been very laid back, very “island” time. Things happen when they happen and you just lay back and go with the flow.

Monday= Us and two of the other adoptive families rented a car and drove from tip to tip. We went to Laura Beach but did not really go in the water, we just dipped our feet. You can go in the water but there wasn’t the time to sit in the water. And with 3 babies under 5 months, it was interesting =) We came back to Uliga and ate at the RRE. That was our Monday.

Tuesday we hung out all day in the room with Rosita while it rained outside. We ordered stuffed crust pizza from MIRs restaurant and it was pretty good! Well I liked it, Shawn the pizza expert thought it was just alright.

Wednesday Shawn and I rented a car and drove around to every store we every wanted to stop in. We’re making it our goal to visit every store on the atoll. We need goals to get us excited about the next day otherwise we’d just sit around and watch tv. The whole point is to experience the culture. Get out there and learn the language, talk to the old people, try the local food! We definitely are trying to get out there more. We’re recording and taking tons of pictures to try to absorb as much as we can while we’re here. We hope to bring Emi back soon but she needs to know where she comes from and we need to be prepared for any questions she may have about her birth country. On Wednesday we also met with Kim because she had info. for us regarding Emita’s birth family! Kim is from Cincinnati and is in the Marshalls with World Teach. Apparently she is Peters “sister” in Marshallese culture because her host mother in Arno (an outer atoll) is Peter sister. Reminder- Peter is Emita’s grandpa. So she was just with all of them in Arno for Christmas. She told us that Emi’s oldest brothers name is Mario and he is 22 years old. Her other siblings, 3 more brothers and a sister, are all on the Jaluit atoll in High School. There is a “sister” and cousin who are in high school here in Majuro and they want to meet us so we’re very excited about that!

**Ok so this is what we know of Marshallese family culture: the word for father and uncle is the same. The men are there to provide for everyone’s children in the clan not just their own biological children. If your mother has a sister, her children are your siblings. If your mother has a brother, his children are your cousins. You are free to date and marry your cousins but never your “siblings”.

Wednesday night we came home to a party out by the pool, complete with DJ and a Pig Roast. It did not end until 1:30am! And the speakers were literally right under our window! Poor Emi kept waking up every 20 minutes and crying with such anguish…. Shawn was so mad at the partiers because they kept waking up his little girl! It was really cute J.

After our rough Weds. night, we were woken up by Rosita at about 10am on Thursday. She ran into the room (she literally runs in!) and woke up Emi to play with her. She played for an hour or so then went into our restroom to freshen up. She then took Emi outside for a few more minutes and when she was done with that she came in handed Emi to Shawn asked for .50 for taxi and ran out! She’s so funny!

Friday was New Years Eve and we went down to breakfast at the MIR restaurant. It was really good! I had a ham and cheese omelet with hashbrowns and really good coffee and Shawn had Banana Pancakes and fried rice =) It was relatively cheap and very filling. The short stack is plenty- Shawn ordered the full stack and only ate half.

Friday night was the Block Party. They closed down the street in front of the RRE for about six blocks. We got there at 6:30 and went and hung out in another adopting family’s room. At 7:30 we headed out. They had four different bands playing with street food and alcohol stands everywhere. Shawn bought me and the other adopting mom Jell-O shots for a dollar. They were yummy =) Every half hour it rained for about 5-10 minutes, but other than that it wasn’t too hot. There were also little kids running around everywhere alone! They ran in packs. Then at 11:54 the band was ready to start the New Year and started counting down. So we rang in the New Year 5 minutes early and they played “Auld Lang Syne” Island style. It was interesting. Then Shawn and I, with the other adopting parent, counted down the real count-down off of Shawn’s watch. It was so funny! Then after we left the party we started walking back in the rain trying to catch a taxi but all of them were full. Then a car pulled up and asked us if we wanted a ride. Shawn of course said yes right away, but I was freaking out all the way back home if they were going to kidnap us or rob us or something. Then after we got home I was still paranoid they were going to somehow find our room and rob us. But, it turned out they were just being nice =)

On Saturday, I did not change out of my pajamas all day. There was a non-stop party outside our window poolside all night and day and we just sat on our Lanai(balcony) and pretended we were part of the party.

On Sunday, Rosita came over at 8:30am. She hung out until about 3:30. We were watching a movie she was really into, a Chinese epic, and we let her stay until the end. But little did we know the movie was like 3 and half hours long! But it was nice though. During that time we called and Skyped with family. After Rosita left we went shopping for crafts and souvenirs. The store next to the Formosa by RRE has the best deal on crafts that we have found so far. We ate at Dar for lunch, where Shawn got a Loco Moco, hehe! It’s a hamburger patty on white rice with brown soy sauce gravy with two fried eggs on top for only $3.75! Shawn says it’s the best deal for food in town. The prices at Dar are very reasonable and the restaurant is pretty clean, it’s only 1 of 2 places on the island to find actual Marshallese food. We ordered some pumpkin rice to try some, but it never came and the waitress giggled at Shawn when she saw that the check had the rice on it, but she never brought it. This is not unusual for any restaurant. Later that night we hooked up with the other adopting families at RRE and had pizza at the Tide Table. It’s not that great, tasted like frozen pizza with extra cheese. Mmm.

Monday we went to La Bodgie, a Filipino restaurant across from the Catholic church. The food was good and they have really good deals. We ordered off the big menu, but you can order combo special dishes which include rice, noodles, and choice of meat for only $2.50. We figured that out after we ordered. But next time we’ll definitely do that. It looked good.

Tips for future families: (we have a whole bunch. I finally got my notepad!!!!)

If you’re not staying out RRE you’ll need to get water. You can get water of Do it Best Hardware across from MIR and EZ Price Mart for $.50 a gallon. Pay Less has 6 liter jugs of water for 2.59. You can buy one or two of those, then get your refills at these stores.

You can get single burner hot plates for $12.00 at EZ Price. That’s the cheapest we’ve seen. The locals buy a lot of they stuff there and they have really good deals on things. It’s like a mini mini Wal-Mart type store.

Car Rental: There are like 6 places to rent cars. If you stay at RRE you can rent one of their cars for a half day, until 9pm, for $35 or 24hours for $70. The Hertz at Pay Less Motors has 24hour rentals for as low as $35 but they never have cars available because they’re booked out weeks or months ahead of time. So if you know where you’re coming, you could book in advance. The MIR will also find you a car for $60. They shop around the different spots to find you one, but you’re at the mercy of their finding one. We called to ask them if they could find one and they said they would have one available tomorrow. When Shawn went to pick it up they said that it had transmission problems and might be ready tomorrow. So we went to MGAS. It’s a car repair shop that rents cars. You can rent a relatively “nice” for 24hours for $52.00. The key is shopping around to find the best deal. But it seems MGAS always has one available.

The Chinese stores have the best deals on most things. For grocery type things they have the same products as the Marshallese and American stores, but it’s almost always 25-50% cheaper. But they also have some things that are just plain cheap quality. It’s really hit or miss but it’s definitely worth it to check it out. The Wei Wei store just passed the MIR is the best Chinese store we’ve come across. They have the cheapest pop(that’s soda where we come from!) for $8.00 a 12pk. The Marshallese are not happy the Chinese have taken over the stores. They tell you not to go to them. But it’s impossible because most of the stores are Chinese. It’s like Chinatown. The majority of products sold are Chinese and Japanese and really are cheaper. For that reason it’s really hard to find any Marshallese souvenirs. Pay Less however, is 20-30% more expensive on most things, but they have everything. It’s truly an American grocery store. So if you need medicine, Doritos, or Stove Top, that’s where you’ll get it. It does have its advantage in that way. Pay Less is also where you’ll find Western Family brand which is West Coast store brand , we think it’s Safeway. It is way cheaper then the name brand stuff and it’s quality is good and cheaper in many ways than the Chinese stores in certain products.

There are two ATMs; One at the RRE and one next to Pay Less.

Entertainment Center and Office Supply store have video discs for camcorders and also memory cards. Entertainment Center has the best prices.

The cheapest Marshall Islands shirts we have found are next to the Flame Tree on right for $7.99. Not the Formosa.

The Urban area with shops/restaurants is Between the RRE and MIR. Passing the MIR is the bridge, which is where the US Embassy, Long Island Hotel and other shops and restaurants, but it’s a ways out and you will be charged at least $3.00 to cross the bridge in a taxi. On the other side of RRE are very local type stores and mainly local people. It’s not scary it’s just that there really isn’t much passed there for a non-local.

Momotaro BBQ is very good. You get a to go container with 2 scoops of rice, kimchee, noodle salad, and two pieces of grilled chicken and one pork spare rib for $4.00. It is worth it!

A clarification on taxi prices: Taxis are 50 cents unless marked. Otherwise they will be marked for 75 cents. If you cross the bridge you will be charged at least $3.00. It varies on the taxi and how far you go.


  1. It sounds like you've adapted well to "island time" :) We also find that we fall into it pretty quickly which, I guess, it the point of getting away from it all. What a joy it must be for the both of you to just have time with Emi!

    Any new news on your wait time for the visa? We just received one of our FBI letters back last Thursday - it took just over 6 weeks (instead of 12)! I expect the second one to arrive this week. Then it looks like the I-600A can go to the USCIS and the Dossier to the RMI within the next 1-2 weeks. How long did your immigration approval take?

    The Marshallese family structure is pretty confusing! Are Emi's 4 brothers and 1 sister actual siblings (in the American sense) or are they the children of Rosita's sister?

    Thanks for all the tips! Nice to know where the best places are - especially when you're living on a budget and don't know exactly how long that budget will have to last! Do you think MIR has the best rates? Another waiting family mentioned the Long Island Hotel and I've read about the RRE - any impressions on which has the best facilities as well as rates?

    I'm sure you'll be back before we travel so if you don't want to take up your minutes, we can certainly wait until you return!

    For now, take care and keep soaking up as much Marshallese culture as possible!

  2. The MIR has the best rates by far, though you have to contact management and let them know you're with Gordon Benjamin and you'll be staying an exteneded stay. The Long Island Hotel is very far from everything and you would need a rental car because taxis are hard to come by that far out. There is another family staying there now and they basically rented a car for the whole time. The RRE is about twice the rate at MIR and but they get water and it's more of a "hotel" style. We'll explain when we get back. Quality for rooms though is comparable for the MIR and RRE, they're just different hotel styles. We haven't been to room at LIH (Long Island) but everyone says those rooms are nice too. We'll get together when we get back for sure. It doesn't look like any new group will be coming until at least Feb. because the doctor is out.

  3. Teresa-
    You have an INFANT! You have A LOT to do :)
    Becky Deimel