Life on the island

Midway Islands Travel Blog

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Construction guys got drunk and put the Navy SEAL's golf carts on containers. SEALS got drunk and raided the construction guy's barracks and shaved off half their carefully grown handlebar mustaches and ponytails. It's a small island...
Life on the island was interesting. It was like a high school (about the same size too) with different groups. The island was at a peak when I was there with about 70 people.

There were the Fish and Wildlife Service people- they had taken the island over from the Navy and ran it. It's a scary though, one of the most disorganized government agencies in charge... and they ruled with an iron fist. The beaches were closed! too much impact on the seals! You could walk only on boards and paved spots, bird burrows could be stepped on. Sort of constantly at war with the rest of the inhabitants.

Then there were the contruction guys. These were workers from the US, Phillipines, and Guam. Handlebar mustaches, Harley tattoos, ponytails- kind of a rough bunch.
In 2001 the island was run by Sri Lankans. The Navy was gone, but they remained trapped on the island, unable afford to return home. This was the barracks decorated for Vasak festival
There biggest rivals were the Navy SEALS, a bunch of 20-year old guys that couldn't believe they were stuck on some sandheap in the Pacific for two months. The contruction guys would get drunk, put the Navy SEAL golfcarts on the roof. The SEALS would get drunk and raid the construction barracks, shaving off the construction guy's ponytails and half their mustaches. The construction guys would soak the SEALS mattresses in seawater. The SEALs would push the construction guys' forklift into the bay, trapping their own golfcarts on the roof... you get the idea.

The island was actually run by Sri Lankans... I have no idea how this happened, but the Phoenix Corporation (mysterious, shady CIA contractor famous for running raids over Cambodia early in the Vietnam war) had found some loophole to hire them for a fraction of the minimum wage.
Planes have to land at night when the birds are sleeping. These Navy guys decided to take off in the day, came limping back, dented, with engines smoking after hitting flying albatross on takeoff.
They ran the sewer plant, power plant, mess hall, airport, everything. There were a couple Thais and Phillipinos too. Many of them had worked there for years and years, sort of trapped, without money to fly home. They stayed, separated from their families, sending most of their earnings home or to the company store. These were really cool guys, I loved hanging out with them. I wonder what ever happened to them once the island shut down soon after.

There were a scattered handful of engineers, FAA workers manning the airport radar, a doctor and his family staying for a year in exchange for services, and various beauraucrats. This mixed community all ate each meal together in the mess hall, so in the end they had to all get along. I was pretty much a pariah since I was seen as just slowing down work, delaying they days they were counting until they could get off the island.
Big excitement of the month was a visit by Coast Guard cutter Kukui, bringing supplies, carrying off trash.
A couple had opened a really nice gourmet French restaurant (!!), in case tourism worked out.

Entertainment was a little sparse. The bowling alley had been abandoned, but there was... a pool table, and a bar open a few hours each evening. Everyone would pound drinks for two hours, head home with a last call drink in each hand, steering their golfcarts with their knees. I loved every second of it. It was a 14 hour workday, but with Sundays off. I'd skip lunch and snorkel. After work I'd explore ever inch of the island. Even at night I'd wander the island, not wanting to miss one second of the experience. I swear I didn't sleep for the month.
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Construction guys got drunk and pu…
Construction guys got drunk and p…
In 2001 the island was run by Sri …
In 2001 the island was run by Sri…
Planes have to land at night when …
Planes have to land at night when…
Big excitement of the month was a …
Big excitement of the month was a…
A shrine built during the military…
A shrine built during the militar…
Midway Islands
photo by: cneoridium