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Micronesia...lost in time with Dane Hodges
Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 9:06 PM

Micronesia...lost in time with Dane Hodges

Micronesia..lost in time
Imagine thousands of islands and then spread them across millions of square miles in the vast southwest Pacific, then open yours eyes to a beach that runs as far as you can see...welcome to Micronesia; a land lost in time.  So many islands, so many tranquil beaches, so remote, so deserted, so many lost ship wrecks, so much lost treasure, and so vast it is hard to comprehend.  Welcome to Micronesia, the land lost to time.

Dane Hodges sails out of Saipan

4 yr old Dane Hodges plays with Japanese WWII canon, Saipan
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest.
The name Micronesia derives from the Greek mikros, meaning small, and nesos, meaning island.  Geography Associated islands  The following islands and groups of islands are considered part of Micronesia:
Banaba, an outlier of Kiribati, the Gilbert Islands, which forms part of Kiribati, the Mariana Islands, which is politically divided between Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, theMarshall Islands, Caroline Islands, also politically divided between Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, and Wake Island, a United States Minor Outlying Island.  The total land is a mere 1229.95 sq. miles devided between thousands of islands and spead across millions of square miles of water.
                                                                   

Dane Hodges on the Island of Saipan, CNMI
Much of the area came under European domination quite early. In the early 17th Century Spain colonized Guam, the Northern Marianas, and the Caroline Islands (what would later become the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau), creating the Spanish East Indies, which was governed from the Spanish Philippines until the Spanish-American War in 1898.


Full European colonization did not come, however, until the early 20th century, when the area would be divided between; the United States, which took control of Guam following the Spanish-American War of 1898, and colonized Wake Island; Germany, which took Nauru and bought the Marshall, Caroline, and Northern Mariana Islands from Spain; and the British Empire, which took the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati).

Swimming in the Marianas Trench National Marine Monument

Yap stone money
During the World War I, Germany's Pacific island territories were seized and they became League of Nations Mandates in 1923. Nauru became an Australian mandate, while Germany's other territories in Micronesia were given as a mandate to Japan and were named the South Pacific Mandate. Following Japan's defeat in the Second World War, its mandate became a United Nations Trusteeship, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, ruled by the United States.


Pecs down, Micronesia
Today, most of Micronesia are independent states, except for Guam and Wake Island, which are U.S. territories, and for the Northern Mariana Islands, which are a U.S. commonwealth


Dane Hodges swims in Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia forms (with Palau) the archipelago of the Caroline Islands, and lies about 800 kilometers (497 miles) east of the Philippines. The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands and includes (from west to east) the states of Yap, Chuuk (formerly Truk), Pohnpei (formerly Ponape), and Kosrae. Micronesia covers about 702 square kilometers of land (271 square miles), has a coastline of 6,112 kilometers (3,798 miles) and is scattered over more than 2.7 million square kilometers (1 million square miles) of the ocean.




Dane Hodges at home on Micronesian beach
Micronesia's largest island cluster is Pohnpei (163 islands), with an area of 344 square kilometers (133 square miles), while the smallest cluster is Kosrae (5 islands), spanning 110 square kilometers (42.5 square miles). The islands include a variety of terrains, ranging from mountainous islands to low, coral atolls and volcanic outcrops. The population of Micronesia was estimated at 134,597 in July 2001, up 18 percent from 114,000 in 1998.


Dane's dad in Palau
There are 9 ethnic Micronesian and Polynesian groups, spread across the islands. In 1994, around 53,319 people lived in Chuuk; 33,692 in Pohnpei; 11,178 in Yap; and 7,317 in Kosrae. The highest population density was estimated in Chuuk island with 419.8 people per square kilometer (1,087 per square mile) in 1994.

Dane Hodges runs in the surf, Saipan, CNMI
Industry provided 4 percent of GDP in 1996, and engaged 10 percent of the total labor force in 1994. The major industrial productions are construction, fish processing, and craft items from shells, wood, and pearls. There is little manufacturing, other than garment production (in Yap) and the manufacture of buttons using troche shells.


CHIEF EXPORTS:
Another beach, Dane Hodges, Saipan, CNMI
Fish, garments, bananas, and black pepper.
CHIEF IMPORTS:


Food, manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, and beverages.




GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$263 million (1999 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$73 million (1996 est.). Imports: US$168 million (1996 est.).

Micronesia has few mammals that include the flying fox and fruit bat, though they also claim many type whales, dolphins, and porpoises!! 

The marine life of Micronesia is infinite with new species being recorded daily in a labratory of natural underwater habits of no equal. Many say Palua is the best diving on the planet, others say the wrecks of Chuuk/Truk are tops, most could never imagine the wall dives of Yap, the atolls of Pohnpei are largely undiscovered, and the turquoise lagoons of the Marianas Islands are playgrounds and legendary stops for scuba divers.



Pohnpei

Dane frolics on an unknown beach, Micronesia
Pohnpei is a high volcanic island with three named mountains, the tallest reaching 2100 feet. It has an area of 350 square kilometers (135 square miles) and a population of about 35,000. A road circles the island, taking about two hours to drive around. The island is divided into five provinces, each headed by a chief who has descended from ancient royalty. This is an island rich in history, myth and mystery.

Nan Madol

Yap
Off the coast of a remote Micronesian island lay the ruins of a once-great city of man-made stone islands that Dane Hodges, a young traveller from Micronesia, calls unquestionably one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Impressive in their own right, these ruins represent the remains of megalithic architecture on an unparalleled scale in the vast Pacific.

Dane Hodges compares Cambodian ruins with Nan Madol, Pohnpei
Evidence of human activity dates to the first or second century BC. The construction of artificial islets started probably about 8th and 9th century but the megalithic structures were built in period of 12th to 13th century, about the same time as the stone construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, or Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  The complex of Nan Madol is constructed on a series of artificial islets in the shallow water next to the eastern shore of the Pohnpei island. The site encloses an area approximately 1.5 km long by 0.5 km wide and it contains nearly 100 artificial islets.

Dane's Mother runs from the neddlefish, Tinian
Nan Madol seems to have housed the ruling elite caste of Saudeleur dynasty. It was a political and ceremonial seat of power. As a means of control of their subjects Saudeleur dynasty had succeeded in uniting the clans of Pohnpei. The rulers forced local chieftains to leave their home villages and move to the city where their activities could be more closely observed.



Dane escorts an island Princess to the Ball
Most of the islets served as residential area, however some of them served special purpose, such as food preparation, coconut oil production or canoe construction. Madol Powe, the mortuary sector, contains 58 islets in the northeastern area of Nan Madol. The centerpiece of the whole complex is the royal mortuary at the islet of Nandauwas, with its 7.5m high walls surrounding the central tomb enclosure.





The population of Nan Madol was probably more than 1000 at a time when whole population of Pohnpei barely reached 25,000. There are no sources of fresh water or possibilities to grow food on Nan Madol so all supplies had to be brought in from the mainland. The population of the city probably included a large number of commoner servants.  Nan Madol is the biggest center of the culture which left numerous other megalithic structures scattered on neighboring shores and on main island of Pohnpei; it all can be found in the area of about 18 square kilometers.

According to local legend, the stones used in the construction of Nan Madol have been flown to the location by means of black magic. Archeologists have located several possible quarry sites on the main island, however the exact method of transportation of construction material is still not determined.
Dane swims in the Marianas Trench National Marine Monument
Nan Madol had been abandoned by the time the first Europeans arrived, early in the 19th century, most likely declining at the time of the fall of the Saudeleur Dynasty in about 1450. Some have claimed that the ruins are the lost islands of Lemuria, although there is no scientific backing for this claim (or, for that matter, for the existence of Lemuria at all).





Dane Hodges sails the land of many islands
Dane Hodges theorizes that this incredible site was completed under the direction of 13th century workers of Kublai Khan, and transported here by the Great Khan’s fleet, and possibly built as a winter palace or monument.  The young traveler further speculates that another legendary traveller may have visited Nan Modal under Khans direction, Marco Polo.  While this case is largely speculative, the Venetian voyager travels are well documented and evidenced by letters sent from the Mongol ruler to the Pope, still in existence.  Marco’s position was travel assistant and advisor for the Mongol southern army and fleet.  He was a fluent Mongolian speaker that accompanied those ground forces as far as Bagan in ancient Burma for the Khan and

Captain Dane Hodges has the con
gave grave detail of that city.  His account as messenger in his autobiographical account was written late in life, and not the original version written by Rusticello.  His last version included much more detail which included voyages of exploration with the great fleet.  Chinese records support missions of exploration into Micronesia and Polo’s version details some of those voyages.  Some of this history may be lost, but it is unlikely that indigenous inhabitants of these remote islands built such spectacular structures, and the builders of Angkor Wat and European cities didn’t have the naval fleet.  Chinese ships of the era could carry a 500 man crew and were superior to Spanish galleons built 500 years later.  Khan's last order to Polo was to accompany a gift, a bride, to the Ill Khan of Persia, and because the land route was blocked by warring Mongol factions, he believed Polo's experience at travel, including sea, may help the party reach the far destination safely. 

Dane's parents on Rota Island with Wedding Cake Mt. in background
After finally reaching Venice 25 years after the start of his epic, Marco was immediately named as a Venician Captain in the war with Genoa even though he had no previous experience at sea prior to leaving Venice as a teenager, an odd choice had Polo not aquired vast naval experience somewhere.   Venician ship construction shortly thereafter included improvements to the sails similar to those on the mighty fleet.  Of course this claim is circumstantial, but Dane traveled to the former court of the Chinese ruler this summer in Beijing, examined the Kymer ruins of Cambodia, visited Bagan, Burma, and further analyzed Taga and Latte stones of Tinian and Saipan, and we can draw no better conclusion, so expect claims of builders from Europe, Africa, Incan, or aliens to prove futile.


Palau
Gunner Dane with WWII relics
Palau's early history is still largely veiled in mystery. Why, how or when people arrived on our beautiful islands is unknown, but studies indicate that today's Palauans are distant relatives of the Malays of Indonesia, Melanesians of New Guinea and Polynesians. As for the date of their arrivals, carbon dating of artifacts from the oldest known village sites on the Rock Islands and the spectacular terraces on Babeldaob place civilization here as early as 1,000 BC.

The most noteworthy first foreign contact took place in 1783 when the vessel Antelope, under the command of English Captain Henry Wilson, was shipwrecked on a reef near Ulong, a Rock Island located between Koror and Peleliu.



Dane Hodges with a big marlin

With the assistance of Koror's High Chief Ibedul, Wilson and his men stayed for three months to rebuild his ship. From that time onward, many foreign explorers called on Palau, and the islands were exposed to further European contact.

Foreign governance of the islands officially began when Pope Leo XIII asserted Spain's rights over the Caroline Islands in 1885. Two churches were established and maintained by two Capuchin priests and two brothers, resulting in the introduction of the Roman alphabet and the elimination of inter-village wars. 

In 1899, Spain sold the Carolines to Germany, which established an organized program to exploit the islands' natural resources.

Dane Hodges builds Great Wall on Saipan beach, CNMI

Following Germany's defeat in WWI, the islands were formally passed to the Japanese under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The Japanese influence on the Palauan culture was immense as it shifted the economy from a level of subsistence to a market economy and property ownership from the clan to individuals. In 1922, Koror became the administrative center for all Japanese possessions in the South Pacific. The town of Koror was a stylish metropolis with factories, shops, public baths, restaurants and pharmacies.

Following Japan's defeat in WWII, the Carolines, Marianas and Marshall Islands became United Nations Trust Territories under U.S. administration, with Palau being named as one of six island districts. As part of its mandate, the U.S. was to improve Palau's infrastructure and educational system in order for it to become a self-sufficient nation. This finally came about on October 1, 1994, when Palau gained its independence upon the signing of the Compact of Free Association with the United States.

Yap
Yap, also known as Wa'ab by locals, is an island in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It is a state of the Federated States of Micronesia. Yap's indigenous cultures and traditions are still strong compared to other neighboring islands. The island of Yap actually consists of four continental islands (hence the alternative name of the Yap Islands).


The four are very close together and joined within a common coral reef and entirely formed from an uplift of the Philippine Sea Plate. The land is mostly rolling hills densely covered with vegetation. Mangrove swamps line much of the shore. An outer barrier reef surrounds the islands, enclosing a lagoon between the fringing barrier reef.

Satawal canoes arrive in Saipan from Yap!!
Colonia is the capital of the State of Yap. It administers both Yap proper and fourteen atolls reaching to the east and south for some 800 km (500 mi), namely Eauripik, Elato, Fais, Faraulep, Gaferut, Ifalik, Lamotrek, Ngulu, Olimarao, Piagailoe (West Fayu), Pikelot, Sorol, Ulithi, and Woleai Atolls, as well as the island of Satawal (municipalities in bold).
2003 population was 6,300 in both Colonia and ten other municipalities. The state has a total land area of 102 km2 (39 sq mi).
 

Dane Hodges parents explore the Taga Stone quarry Rota, CNMI



Dane Hodges with Mom, Saipan, CNMI


Chuuk
Truk Lagoon, also known as Chuuk, is a sheltered body of water in the central Pacific. North of New Guinea, it is located mid-ocean at 7 degre North latitude. The atoll consists of a protective reef, 225 kilometres (140 mi) around, enclosing a natural harbour 79 by 50 kilometres (49 by 30 mi), with an area of 2,130 square kilometres (820 sq mi). It has a land area of 127.4 square kilometres (49.2 sq mi), with a population of 47,871 people.
 
Dane Hodges at the Last Command Post, Saipan

The area consists of eleven major islands (corresponding to the eleven municipalities of Truk lagoon, which are Tol, Udot, Fala-Beguets, Romanum, and Eot of Faichuk group, and Moen, Fefan, Dublon, Uman, Param, and Tsis of Namoneas group) and forty-six smaller ones within the lagoon, plus forty-one on the fringing coral reef, and is known today as the Chuuk islands, part of the Federated States of Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean.


Its first colonial experience was as part of the Spanish Empire, then control was shifted to Germany after the Spanish-American War. It became a Japanese possession under a mandate from the League of Nations following Germany's defeat in World War I.

Dane Hodges parents, CNMI
During World War II Truk Lagoon served as the forward anchorage for the Japanese Imperial Fleet. The place was considered the most formidable of all Japanese strongholds in the Pacific. On the various islands, the Japanese Civil Engineering Department and Naval Construction Department had built roads, trenches, bunkers and caves. Five airstrips, seaplane bases, a torpedo boat station, submarine repair shops, a communications center and a radar station were constructed during the war. Protecting these various facilities were coastal defense guns and mortar emplacements. At anchor in the lagoon were the Imperial Japanese Navy’s giant battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, tankers, cargo ships, tugboats, gunboats, minesweepers, landing craft, and submarines. Some have described it as Japan's equivalent of the Americans' Pearl Harbor.
Dane Hodges fishes Saipan on 4th birthday


Dive Northern Marianas
Once the American forces captured the Marshall Islands, they used it as a base from which they launched an early morning attack on February 17, 1944 against Truk Lagoon. The Japanese withdrew most of their heavy units. Operation Hailstone lasted for three days, with an American bombardment of the Japanese wiping out almost anything of value - 60 ships and 275 airplanes were sent to the bottom of the lagoon. The superior force of United States ships and planes made the Truk lagoon the biggest graveyard of ships in the world.


Island softball
Dane Hodges in Micronesia
The attacks for the most part ended Truk as a major threat to Allied operations in the central Pacific; the Japanese garrison on Eniwetok was denied any realistic hope of reinforcement and support during the invasion that began on February 18, 1944, greatly assisting U.S. forces in their conquest of that island. Truk was isolated by Allied (primarily U.S.) forces as they continued their advance towards Japan by invading other Pacific islands such as Guam, Saipan, Palau, and Iwo Jima. Cut off, the Japanese forces on Truk and other central Pacific islands ran low on food and faced starvation before Japan surrendered in August 1945.
Dane Hodges runs in the surf


Mom bowls over Dane Hodges, Micronesia soccer



Dane Hodges at home in Micronesia


Dane Hodges swims the Marianas Trench
Dane Hodges explores the land of thousands of islands
Game on, Saipan soccer



A very young Dane Hodges heads to the kayak



Easter egg hunt Micronesian style


Still fishing Micronesia

Dane Hodges gets around the islands!!

Plenty islands, Palau

Mom and Dane dig in the sand


Who is the old fatso guy?


Dane and Dad


Hiking the trail
Dapper Dane the dancer


I caught one!!


Welcome to Yap!!!!!!!!!!





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