Stuck in Truk - Part II
Isolating in Truk Lagoon - (Continued)
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) announced that the present travel ban has been extended until May 31, 2020. The country is still closed and will be for at least another 6 weeks minimum! Come the end of May, the government will re-assess the state of readiness for the arrival of CV-19 into the FSM and decide whether to re-open. They are receiving aid in the form of medical supplies and trying to establish a locale where travelers can quarantine. This ban includes FSM Nationals as well. There are many citizens who cannot return home and are stranded. With that said, this country means to keep CV-19 out at all costs and I admire the leaderships fortitude in doing so. It is in my belief the ban should continue based on what I am reading and hearing from experts, friends and family back home. This virus would cause considerable harm here if it should ever make it through immigration.
What does this mean for me? It looks like I will continue to be stuck in Truk. With the situation in the outside world as it is, this is a good place to be. There is no virus, supplies are arriving regularly and I was given the green light to go diving. Please don't take this as a form of gloating. I am fully aware of the dire situation in the outside world and wished there was something I could do. It would seem staying put and being one less person in the world to spread the disease is as good as I can do at this time.
I was scheduled to return to the US in mid-May for a photo shootout contest I host every year in North Carolina called the Wreck•Shark Shootout. I haven't cancelled this event yet but if i do, it will be a heartbreaker for me and those attending. Over the past six years the Shootout has been one of my personal highlights where good people come together to share a common love of diving. However, safety is paramount to me and I will do what is best for the health of the divers.
The other issue for me is the ability for a crew member to arrive here and relieve me so I can depart. The travel ban will not allow a swap of personnel. There are many signs pointing for me to stay in Chuuk until the dust settles in the outside world. I should no more as to what to do in the next 10-14 days.
In the meanwhile, I continue to take advantage of this country wide shutdown and dive the wrecks of Truk as often as I can which is about 5 dives a week right now. This unique situation of being the only diver in Chuuk will not go to waste. However, I came to discover this past week two other divers who are also stuck in Truk. Eri Umino and Keisuke Yokota from Treasure Divers, a Japanese run dive center in Chuuk. Suke arrived here from Osaka, Japan some 13 years ago and established Treasure at that time. As small as this island is, I have never had the pleasure of meeting him until last week. I often would spot Suke from a distance when both the Odyssey and his boat would be diving the same wreck. Eri arrived some years later from Tokyo as a tourist and fell in love with the wrecks and has been here ever since working as instructor and dive guide. The three of us set out this past week together to dive the famed Heian Maru, their favorite wreck. The Heian was a luxury passenger liner before being converted for war time use and is a complex ship to dive. The pitch black multi-level rooms and companionways challenge ones abilities to navigate and explore within. These pulse thumping conditions make it all the more exciting. Our dive together was a a great time and we will be sure to do it again soon. Until then, I will keep shooting on my own and hopefully inspire many of you to join me out here one day when there is a semblance of normality in the world once again.
Please continue to be safe, listen to the experts and stay healthy. We will get through this.
Join Mike in Truk Lagoon.
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