Micronesian Blues - the unbelievably entertaining stories of former TTPI “police specialist” Bryan Vila. This highly enjoyable book jumps from one island adventure to another, feeling almost fictional that one individual could’ve witnessed a number of pivotal historical events in just 6 years. There’s something in this book for everyone even for those who’ve only enjoyed Micronesia through the infamous Island-hopper. Every chapter is an experience worth having for both our leading character and any reader.
Johnston, Majuro, Kwajalein, Ponape, Truk, and Tinian. That list of islands, in that order and spelling should sound familiar to some. That is the Island Hopper route during the TTPI time. The very route that our main character, Bryan Vila, a former L.A. cop and US marine, takes to get to his new job as “police specialist” of the TTPI.
“Familiar” is a word that rings true for Micronesian Blues. Although Mr. Vila’s stories are extraordinary, many of the character names and the many backdrops root his stories in familiarity.
The book is split into events or vignettes. The way the vignettes are written could easily feel forced and contrived but they are not. It’s a wonder that Mr. Vila was involved in so much and in such little time (6 years). Within the context of 6 years he had to face political and military protests, kidnappings, murders, rape, torture, prison breaks - all while trying to understand the many cultures of Micronesia.
The process of immersion that Mr. Vila had to go through proved beneficial and can serve as a good model for other foreigners thinking about taking a job or maybe a trip to the islands. Mr. Vila’s outsider perspective may also be helpful for Micronesians to appreciate the many adjustments and sacrifices made by migrant workers.
- Entertainment: For its entertainment value yes, I would highly recommend.
- Educational: The stories take place during a tumultuous time in Micronesia’s modern history. Although many events are mentioned as the main character was directly involved in a few of them, he does not go into detail and offer adequate explanations. However, this book is not exactly a history book or a civics book. It does however, offer an important outlook on how it’s like for a foreigner to settle effectively into a new culture and environment.
- Importance: I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to visit or work in Micronesia. This is also great reading for entertainment purposes for anyone from the region.
- Rating: 80%. For its entertainment and a great outlook on culture and assimilation.
- “Coke or Pepsi?” (location: 287 of 4206. Kindle)
- “There we were on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and we couldn’t get fresh fish.” (location: 687 of 4206. Kindle)
- “It wasn’t enough for us to try to understand Micronesian culture; we also had to help them understand our culture better if they were going to successfully adopt more modern laws and ways of doing things” (location: 1431 of 4206. Kindle)
- “If people don’t understand what you mean, they won’t tell you. If you’re wrong, they won’t challenge you. If they can’t do what you want them to do, they’ll still say “yes” because they don’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings or make you angry.” (location: 1475 of 4206. Kindle)
- “But insiders, not outsiders, make the most difference in any culture or community” (location: 4143 of 4206. Kindle)
- “In any event, I discovered the importance of participating in the local culture wherever I went. That meant drinking sakau on Ponape, chewing betel nut on Yap and Palau, gently holding hands with my burly cops on Kosrae, and shaking hands with a crushing grip on Truk. It meant avoiding conflict in the Marshalls, and joining in heated arguments on Palau. It meant knowing when to speak softly, and when to bellow in a deep, strong voice.” (location: 4146 of 4206. Kindle)