He grew up in a town called Arrack in Majuro Atoll, a ring of 64 volcanic islands.He and his 13 siblings lived packed into a small house made of wood scraps painted various colors and collected by his father, a construction worker. Mote was close with his mother; she taught him to cook and to weave, tasks usually reserved for women. He did the same thing on the way home, and the day after, and the day after that, chasing the tire back and forth. Mote himself became faster, until he was the fastest runner in his school. The thousands who have taken advantage of the treaty have formed tight-knit communities in Springdale, Arkansas; Costa Mesa, California; Spokane, Washington; Salem, Oregon; and elsewhere.The elderly get sicker when the weather changes, he’s noticed – though the friends dying lately aren’t all that old, and they aren’t dying just because of the weather.
Instead, they’re dying young – of diabetes, kidney failure and heart disease, illnesses they might have been able to manage under other circumstances.He’d driven a hundred miles the previous day, to Oklahoma City, to buy bitter melon and small fish that he placed delicately into the frying pan with a pair of tongs.They were among the things he missed from the Marshall Islands, where he grew up.For some 2,000 years, his ancestors found their way in the 750,000 square miles of south Pacific Ocean punctuated by the narrow coral islets that make up the Marshall Islands.They navigated by the stars, charts made of sticks, and a mysterious technique for reading patterns in the water, known as wave piloting.
Several other residents told me, in varying tones of incredulity, about seeing Marshallese walking through the snow in flip-flops.