Tromping through the jungle and forging our own path through the thick vegetation, we must have walked right past the old WWII-age military hospital a handful of times without even knowing it was there. This time, though, we were on a mission to find it.
We came across a machete-cut path through the Cocos seedlings and followed it until we practically ran into the structure itself. It was completely overgrown and barely discernible from the surrounding trees. We followed the concrete perimeter to the entrance and ducked inside. It was as if we had been swallowed by pitch-black darkness. We switched on our headlamps to illuminate our grim surroundings. Our voices echoed eerily in the domed entryway.
The structure was impressively still intact (the ceiling was only falling down in one spot), although some of the interior had been gutted. The building was massive, possessing at least two wings and three entry points. You could still walk down what would have been the hallway and glance into the various rooms, now lacking walls or doors. Rusted cabinets and beds lay strewn about, lost in time. It was haunting to imagine the men that used to inhabit this place: doctors strolling down the corridors and patients lying wounded in the beds. Now, all of this history had been swallowed up by the jungle, and the only remaining denizens are cane spiders and several-foot-long coconut crabs. Yet another example of nature taking back the atoll for its own.