Once I started thinking about Saipan's old Puerto Rico dump, the memories kept coming back. Imagine being nostalgic about that blemish. On the lagoon, of course, with a great view of the hotels. I had a great telephoto picture of the Hyatt and a smouldering pile of something, it would be featured here if I hadn't had an unfortunate habit of storing my negatives with my photos...under a tin roof.
Dropping your own trash was risky at best; there should have been a tire repair shop at the entrance. Nails, glass, ragged ends of rebar all sticking out of the 'roads' that bulldozers ploughed on top of the 'covered' garbage.
The poor Public Works guys were always asking for hazardous pay, with good reason. The flies, the stench, the occasional fires. Some claimed they were set on purpose so there was less garbage to cover. It was even more hazardous for 'can pickers': one man had his head taken off by a shell. Scavengers were promptly banned, for their own safety. That lasted for about a month, I believe.
Those fires. Quite attractive actually, if you were on a dinner cruise. All of the tourists would crowd the rails, pointing and chattering. That's where I first announced Mt. Puerto Rico's eruptions.
The inevitable 'why that's a perfectly good' guys who came in with a full pickup and left with it half-full. The dump was almost invisible from the road, behind a stately line of tangan-tangan. Until the garment industry came in big time, that is. There was actually some benefit from that, because the reeking pile grew so large it could no longer be treated like an embarrassing relative and the new dump had to be developed.
Hidden treasures But most of all, I remember the incredible folk tales connected with the dump. One man maintained there was another atomic bomb and since it wasn't needed it just got buried. He claimed to have proof, just not with him.
An entrepreneur bragged about documents showing at least 100 tanks were buried there, waiting to be salvaged. Of course he couldn't show them to just anyone, only his trusted investors.
And, since we're in the Twiflight Zone, the inevitable assurance that Amelia Earhart's plane was at the bottom. There actually have been allegations that a white couple was held at the Japanese Jail at about that time. I tried to track the rumors for several years as a hobby. It was always a friend of a friend or an auntie, and Tun Maria would say 'oh, yes, I heard about it from a friend's cousin'.
This should not be confused with the man who claimed to have found an Electra while diving off of Saipan. Now, he couldn't give assurances that it was her plane, but with more resources, he could...