Tag Party

Sayonara Saipan!

My second to last day on Saipan, the day I should have been packing my bags and cleaning my apartment “ours party team” instead took a splendid (gratis!) day trip to Managaha, that speck of sand sticking out of the Saipan lagoon.

The party team is from left to right are Nika (a.k.a. Mia), Emma and Vyka (a.k.a. Richi). The trip was Vyka’s brainchild. For various reasons we hadn’t all gotten together for weeks and she was determined for us all to meet one last time. I’m glad she did.

The girls have had a long standing, open invitation for joyrides to Managaha from the boat operator (Bongo at Seahorse Tours) and we had a blast getting out there.

We enjoyed a few blissful hours on that lovely island. In between dips in the salt sea and over beers we told each other stories about what we’d seen and done since we had been together last. A really beautiful and wonderful way to top off the past months we’ve shared together on this gorgeous (and crazy) island.

What else could any of us ask for?

Parasailing! That’s what!

Romeo & Juliet Party

I’ve said it before but Sapan parties are incredible events and I hope you already have an idea of what Saipan local hospitality looks like. (If not remind yourself of Pete’s going away party.)

Romeo and Juliet

Friday night was the Romeo and Juliet party for PJ’s cousin Linko and her fiancée Ralph. A Romeo and Juliet is a shower thrown in honor of a couple about to be married. And it’s a surprise.
By the time Linko and Ralph arrived the band had sound checked, the food had been set out and the coolers were full of beer. They had no idea anything had been planned, and it was a lot of fun. It was a weekend of cold beer, plates heavy with food, starry nights and great conversations.

Biba Santa Remedio

Open Fire Rotisserie

In preparation for the Tanapeg fiesta peter and I “helped out” spit roasting a young cow. All the real work was done long before we arrived, so our “helping out” was only witnessing it take place. The small roasting fires had been lit at 5 AM just before the small cow (from a San Roque farm) was wired onto the skewer and put in place. Tedious hours of “turning the key” followed the constant rotation made slightly easier by a car’s steering wheel attached to one end of the spit.

By the time we arrived in the early afternoon it was almost cooked through. The last of a mixture of meat tenderizing salt, vinegar and spice was dabbed over the meat. (A stick with a tee-shirt tied around one end was the basting brush.) Some one collected some huge flat banana leaves and spread them on the serving table just as dinner was pronounced “done” after a few clean jabs with a sharp stick.

The long spit was heaved off it’s supports and carefully carried by several practiced hands to the table where it stayed balanced as others went to work clipping and untwisting the wires that held it centered. Just before the spit was carefully removed the roast was turned on it’s back and with a silver and black Buck knife a pair of choice strips were taken from the inside of it’s lower back. (Any amateur butchers know that cut’s name?) These were sliced up and shared, but no one close to the work resisted picking and tasting little bits. (Imagine little fingers dipping into a frosted cake and you have the image.)

A few meters of aluminum foil were taped around the roast and we all heaved to get the table up and secure into the too small truck bed. As you can see we never really got it into the truck bed, more around the truck bed but it worked well enough.

Pete’s Big 50

Saipan can throw a party.

Pete got the full treatment on his birthday, he clearly married into the right family. They prepared from time Mary Ann called her sister Tina to tell her they were coming.  A huge roast pig, the whole haul from our night fishing, massive containers of rice, roast veggies, crab salads, perpetually refilling coolers of beer, four cakes and platters of sweet bread. Enough to feed and re-feed about 150 members of da familia. That’s not to mention the live music and the 35 Polynesian dancers.

It was a familiar site for most of the attendees. I asked PJ’s girlfriend, “have you ever been to a party this big before?”  “Oh, yes, there was a baptism.”

The Lieto’s had the party planning down to a fine science. Auntie Tina arrived at the pavilion gate before 8 A.M. to get started as soon as the gate was unlocked. She had trunkloads of flowers and palm leaves, some as big as tablecloths, to wire up and around the pavilion. The family was given specific instructions of what and how much food they would need to prepare for the night. Serving tables arrived, a bar was setup, food laid out, live flower leis were threaded, the loud-ass PA system was sound checked and everything was in perfect order when Pete arrived, right on time, at 6:30.

The party was almost indescribable. Partly because I was sitting close to the bar, but mostly because it was so enjoyable. After a particularly strong cheek full of betel nut (more later) I took a walk to the edge of the park and looked on at the whole scene from a distance. The pretty white pavilion lit up and loud with laughter and music for Pete, who may as well been another haole, but here he is family and deserved no less than the best birthday party I have ever been to.

By midnight the pig was wrecked, having been picked over twice, and there were nothing but empty plates, serving dishes and beer cans on the tables. As the singers packed up their equipment the rest of the clean up started and was over in less time than it took to say goodbye and plan for going out for a night dancing in Garapan.

Not a bad way to celebrate a milestone birthday is it?