Friday, October 5, 2012

Of WWII bunkers and rocky cliffs

JUST when I thought I had seen all of the  World War II bunkers on island, I discovered another one at a place I had never before visited.
Hidden under a thick canopy of shrubs past the tip of the Coral Ocean Point golf resort were the remnants of a bunker whose small opening for a cannon that was no longer there was pointed directly at the sea and at Tinian.
Looking at the structure from either side, you would not suspect it was a bunker. It looked like just one of the hundreds of abandoned and dilapidated buildings covered with vegetation.
But viewed from the sea, it became something more interesting.
I followed a group of people I was with through the dark narrow opening of the bunker and emerged into the space where the canon should have been. Aside from the few spiders that occupied some parts of the wall, the inside of the bunker was “clean”. Traces of recent visits were visible — mostly offerings that Japanese visitors had left behind, their usual way of honoring their relatives or family members who died here during the war.
We stayed only for a few minutes and emerged through the rectangular opening and headed out to the seaside. I’d seen this area from the plane window several times before but picking my way through the sharp coral stones and watching the huge waves crashing against the sharp cliff lines was a much more exciting experience.
A fisherman sat on the edge of the sharp cliffline with his fishing poles in the water. I would have wanted to stay behind and capture it all on the lens, get wet by the sea spray and just enjoy the ocean mist, but I had to catch up with my group. Picking your way over the sharp coral stones was no easy feat. There was one spot there where you could hear the water gushing  beneath the rock where you were standing on — amazing yet scary too.
The golf course began right at the end of that rocky ledge, and I found a spot with a more stunning view. Where the manicured grass of the golf course ended was another rocky cliff where waves crashed and splashed like a smaller version of the blowhole on Tinian. One particular rock jutted out with its tip hanging above the water — a photographer’s delight.
To get to this point, take the first right turn when you get past the Invasion Beach in San Antonio and you will see this bunker.
This island just won’t run out of surprises. All you have to do is go out and set foot in places you haven’t been to before, and you won’t come home disappointed.