Saturday, October 13, 2012

That's a wrap

This post is to tie up any lose ends, and maybe provide some information to anyone who's come here looking for information about life on Kwajalein.

To get to the point, I'm no longer on Kwaj.  I ended my contract early, very abruptly in fact, probably burning a bridge or two on the way out.  I had to leave, for the sake of my sanity, and it's not likely that I'll ever go back.

Perhaps it was evident from the tone of my blog or the lack of posts, but Kwaj and I . . . never fit well together.  I can't rip on the island that much, because it DOES have it's upsides, and a lot of people end up liking it very much and spending years there.  But it wasn't for me, it wasn't . . . strange enough.  It was far too normal, too much like the real world.  And that's not what I want.

My biggest mistake was having too many expectations for what Kwaj was going to be; I hoped that it was going to be like Antarctica, but warmer.  A strange, remote little oasis with a unique, bizarre and whimsical culture, full of misfits and weirdos.  But it isn't, it so isn't.  Kwajalein has FAR more in common with any of the tiny little towns of ~1500 people that you find scattered all over the midwest, only with beaches and palm trees instead of cornfields.  And that's not to speak negatively about those small towns, but . . . if I wanted to live in one of those, than I would.

To someone new to the world of contract work, Kwaj could be a good first step; it's 'Contracting-Lite'.  It's a nice baby-step into the world of people who spend their lives bouncing around the planet working in strange locals, but it's still VERY much like the mainland USA.  So it's less jarring to those unprepared for the lifestyle, or who aren't sure about it and just want to try it out for a bit.

But for anyone reading this who's worked the sandbox, or the ice, or any other contracting locals, I would very seriously consider your options before accepting a two-year commitment on Kwaj.  Maybe you'll like it there, plenty of people do.  But my experiences, especially with ice people, don't bear that out. 

With only a single exception, EVERYONE I personally know who has gone to Kwaj from the ice has hated it, many have broken their contracts and left early.  Some don't even make it a year.  The few others who are still on Kwaj are only there for lack of other options, and would leave at the drop of a hat if they were given an out.  The only two people I know on Kwaj who came from the ice and seem to like Kwaj okay are a married couple who just had a couple of kids, and I think that's why they're able to put up with the island.  They have each other, and their kids to focus on. 

Kwajalein has a lot of problems; some are cultural, some technical, some managerial.  It has it's good sides, and for some people the good things are enough to outweigh the bad, or at least lower the bad to a tolerable level.  But it wasn't enough for me.

I had to get back to the place where I've felt more at home than anywhere else.  I've traded the warm ocean, tropical breezes, palm trees and sandy beaches of Kwaj, for this:

I'm back in Antarctica, and I couldn't be happier.

You can follow my life down on the harsh continent at

So long, everyone on Kwaj.  Pet a sea turtle for me.