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The Land of Aur

We departed Majuro from our favorite mooring field four miles from town. Anemwanot  was superbly serene,  made so by the protective curve of the islets and fringing reef from the northwest to the southeast. It provided a beautiful tuck-in space on the lagoon a short sail from Uliga (town mooring) and nearer to the pass to exit.  

Our evening departure meant calmer winds and the best timing to arrive at Aur pass during early daylight hours.

It's always “Happy Away” when we get moving again. Boat life goes from place to process and that’s invigorating. We had not done an overnight sail OR anchored in several months, so our ‘process’ was rusty and it showed in chafing tempers but it’s good to blow out the exhaust build up every once in a while, no matter what vehicle carries you. Anchoring at Aur provided a nice reset.

Contact with each local government is required as you explore the outer islands. Initially, you go to Ministry of Internal Affairs in Majuro and request permits for the islands/atolls you hope to visit. They, in turn, contact mayors of each island to get permission and then when you arrive, you present the official paperwork and pay the local government official their permit fee. There is no land that is not owned, so you are requesting permission to walk in their yard and swim in their water.

In Fiji, this process is recognized via sevu sevu. And it is mission critical to being a good guest in pacific island countries. On a funny note, fees vary depending on the area. Since the installation of the new Mayor in December, very remote Bikini Atoll saw their permit fee go to $10k. Exclusive tourism for sure to ground-zero of US nuclear tests in the south pacific! Well, that’s one way to go… the nearby Aur fee is $25.

I love Aur for as many unique reasons as I’ve met individuals and watched their daily activities. We are warmly welcome and embraced. Curiosity about the other is mutual and many adult islanders speak some English. It’s true however that the more we travel and the more remote we are, my self-consciousness grows for accurate pronunciation of local greetings. IMHO, its more slippery than it needs to be. Even the spellings on maps and charts and travel logs constantly change :: we’re not talking just one vowel or consonant, were talking added or subtracted syllables!

Women contribute income by creating and selling craft items to sell at markets in Majuro. Pandanus leaves are cut and dried, then stripped into varying skinny lengths to weave and sew. I’ve read that the occupying Japanese (pre-WW2) encouraged their craft in the specific direction of wall adornments and smaller lidded baskets that were liked by the Japanese. The jewelry work is based on nine-plait braids and then more intricately incorporates local shells.  It is beautiful and very personal artistry. Both men and women make the palm leaf baskets to carry fish, coconuts and breadfruit.


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