Coconuts, Pandanus, and Rusty Spikes

The first morning we were on Majuro, Eddie and Jendrik (Maritha’s father and grandfather) arrived in a pair of Hyundai Elantras (the official island car- they’re everywhere) to show us around Majuro. The girls rode with jima (grandpa) and Edison (Maritha’s brother), and Sherry and I rode with Eddie, Merdik, and Doji (Maritha’s mother and baby brother).

It was great to see the island (see previous post), and to get to know Eddie, Merdik, and jima better; Sherry and Merkik communicated mostly with smiles and hand gestures. The most memorable fun, however, happened when we ended up at Eddie’s dad’s place. Maritha’s paternal grandfather lives a few miles west of the busy Delap area where jima Jendrik and company live. It’s almost a rural setting.

Here’s Maritha and her paternal jima.


He’s 86 years old, and Eddie told me that his mind wasn’t too sharp, but he seemed sharp as a tack to me. He speaks a little of both Japanese and English. He told me a some about working with the Japanese before the war.

me and jima

I’m on the left.

The real fun started, however, when Eddie announced that he was going to climb a coconut tree, harvest its load, and that we’d all drink coconut water. After spending several minutes analyzing the tallest tree on the property from all angles, he climbed up it like he was taking a walk.

climb 1

climb 2

Pretty soon, 25-30 green coconuts rained down.


Later, when he came down, limbs still trembing, Eddie prophesied to me quietly, “I think that soon you will climb a coconut tree.” It didn’t happen, but I haven’t ruled it out completely yet (I’m not sure if Sherry knows about this).

In the yard, a rusty spike was driven into the ground, and Edison started using it to pry the tough husks off the coconuts.

edison spike

And then, we all drank the coconut water.

mar drink

edison drink

It was very good, and there was a surprising amount of water in each nut. I got a little water logged.

Another fruit that was everywhere and impressively huge was the pandanus, or bob! (pronounced “bop!” locally).


bob 2

I’d never heard of pandanus, and when it’s cooked, it’s pretty good. At the restaurant, I ate pandanus pancakes. Raw, it breaks apart sort of like giant, tough corn kernels, and is mildly sweet.

bob eat

Also hanging around everywhere were breadfruit, which are aptly named. Jima Jendrik served us breadfruit in their home. It was good, and possibly could have used a little peanut butter.

Maia was especially taken with the free range chickens.


We spent the rest of our time there just hanging out with Maritha’s paternal aunts, uncles, and cousins.

mar and girls



HereĀ a cousinĀ stands in the doorway of jima’s home.


They live very simply, and rarely “live” in their homes like Americans, from what I saw. Homes are places to sleep, mostly. Otherwise, there are things to do, and most of them are outside. It’s not hard to imagine a few generations back when existing by gathering the fruit of one’s land and catching some fish could support a family.

Now there are too many people, not enough bob!, and not enough coconuts to buy an MP3 player.

It was sad to say goodbye to jima and all the cousins (and for Maia to leave the chickens) as we piled into our Hyundais and headed down THE ROAD.


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2 Responses to Coconuts, Pandanus, and Rusty Spikes

  1. Majuro Girl says:

    ohhh that was sweets!!!! How wounderfull of u….. I miss them i wish to go back! Fun time with them. Hmmmm Good pic tho. Ahhh g2g because party is coming up!!! (FOR KYLIE’S FRIEND) bye now and this great guess…. Ahh wounderfull… Good Job!

  2. Jocelyn says:

    Great photos, Steve, although I’m glad you pointed out in that one that you were on the left. I was a little confused.

    What sticks in my head the most are the smiles.

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