Travel Tips for History of Pohnpei
Nanmatol Islands, Micronesia, Federated States of
Okay, so everyone who visits Pohnpei goes to Nanmatol Islands. It's de rigeur, okay? This is Pohnpei's one famous destination. Nanmatol is an ancient city, built of stone "logs" stacked up log-cabin style, each building standing on a man-made island. This was the capital city of the Saudeleur dynasty. The only way to see the area is by kayak. Many of the buildings have been overgrown by mangroves, but several of the most important have been kept clear, especially the main temple. Now, there are some legends still remembered today about the building of Nanmatol. According to the version I was told, the earliest settlers on this part of Pohnpei looked out past the lagoon and saw the pillars of "Atlantis." Now obviously, what they saw could not have been Atlantis, because Atlantis was in the Atlantic, and this is the Pacific; so let us go not by what he said, but what he meant: Mu. If you believe in the legend of Mu, Nanmatol will certainly be of interest. And even if you don't, there are not many places in the South Seas where you can find ancient stone cities -- before the modern world came here, grass huts were the norm. There are always racist theories trying to attribute great achievements like these to unknown outsiders from the ancient Western world, but really, there is no need to invent imaginary migrations like this; human beings anywhere in the world can, with sufficient organization, build anything they set their minds to, and I for one believe Nanmatol was built by the Micronesians themselves. Less famous than Nanmatol, but equally fascinating in its own way, are the petroglyphs in Sapwalap. My taxi driver told me about them and talked me into going, and it was well worth it. There is a rock face covered with pictures of daggers in several different styles, pointing to a warlike past. There is also one particular spot on the rockface where tapping with a stone produces a hollow ring. And if you're into that sort of thing, nearby is the rock of Nanpasu, which was revered for its resemblance to female genitalia. The South Seas have their hidden history, a completely separate stream from West or East.