The indigenous society in Kosrae was stratified with priority given to clans with the strongest claim to early arrival. By 1400 the main island was unified under a chief of chiefs called "tokosra" who ruled from the fortified island of Lelu. A similar evolution occurred on Pohnpei island to the west.
Spain took possession of the island and held it until it was sold to Germany in 1899 along with the other Caroline islands. The Japanese took control in 1914 and held it until after W.W.II when it became part of the US Trust Territory from which emerged the Federated States of Micronesia in 1979.
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Here is a view of Kosrae from the northwest showing the volcanic mountains, the ringing coral reef where the waves are breaking and the airport built in the shallow lagoon.
I had the good fortune to meet Livingston George, on the right in this photo, who introduced me to Vincent Henry, the mayor of Lelu Village, who runs the "Nautilus Resort" where this picture was taken.
I learned a lot about the life of the people here from Livingston while he drove me around the island.
We stopped here at the Iraq Beach Club where the island's "rebel kids" congregate to smoke pot and dance to the latest music. The name Iraq was chosen for its shock value of course.
The same beach, looking south.
Adolescents in the islands find it difficult to reconcile the traditional values of their grandparents with the new, up-to-date, modern American values they get from television.
Adults also have difficulty in choosing only the better aspects of the American influence. Canned foods are convenient but here they also have a prestige value, it is more fashionable to eat imported food than the local fruits and vegetables. The traditional staple, taro, is sometimes seen as low class food.
Another view of Kosrae's jagged mountains taken from the causeway from the main island to Lelu island.
This preference for imported food has tragic consequences on the Islanders health. I met a Japanese-American doctor, on one of his regular visits here, who explained to me that diabetes and vitamin deficiency were rife in all the islands of the Micronesian Federation because of this dietary change.
And here is Lelu island seen from the south.
Everything is closed on Sunday as in most of the Pacific islands. Here, the overwhelming majority are Congregationalists (A Protestant variety that is independent, politically liberal, middle-class, non-confrontational, related to Presbyterianism).
Somebody's outrigger canoe conveniently parked between the road and the beach on Lelu island.
It was raining hard when Livingston brought me to the museum in Tofol. Tofol is the capital of Kosrae State. It is so small that calling it a capital is strange but Kosrae itself is very small, only one island with 8 000 people!
Here is a nice example of a dugout outrigger canoe.
The telecom building is the second largest in Tofol after the high school.
This is a view of the east coast, south of Tofol, on the way to Utwe.
These children playing by the seaside were delighted to have their picture taken.
Here is a traditional house in Utwe village.
Back in Lelu Village, I stayed at the Tradewinds Motel where I had this self-contained unit with air con for 30 $US a night. I never book ahead when I travel, except when I'm arriving in the middle of the night, because I have found that I can generally find better accommodations for less money on the spot.
I like to try the local specialties but I often do my own cooking. This was the nearest grocery store to my hotel. I went there to buy fruit but they did not have any. I went to another one more than a km away but they didn't have any either. I was amazed considering that anything should grow quite well in this climate.
The highlight of my trip here was a visit to the ruins of a city built on Lelu island sometime between 1200 and 1400 AD.
Everything grows furiously here. You can see a coconut tree growing out of a fallen coconut in the middle of this ancient stone paved path.
The ruins were hard to see because they were overgrown by a powerful vegetation that overwhelms everything unless constantly kept under control. If you look carefully you'll see that the rocks on the right are part of a wall that continues to the center of this picture.
This jumble of volcanic rocks are also part of an ancient wall.
Here the characteristic shape of the basalt "logs" can be seen more clearly. When a large volume of molten lava of the right composition is allowed to cool slowly it crystallizes into regular vertical columns that can be mined like logs after they have had time to weather.
It must be remembered that the people who built this wall had only stone tools. The occurrence of basalt columns on their island gave them the possibility of erecting fortifications that they could not have built otherwise.