Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mella's Ngasech

Mella is another member of Emadch's family and it just happened that she also had her first baby during the past couple months. Since many relatives were coming in from New York for Emadch's ceremony, the family decided to do the ngasechs on back-to-back weekends. Vaughn and I timed our tickets perfectly to catch them both.

Every morning for the nine days of baths, the 20-25 people helping with the ceremony preparations get a nicely prepared breakfast. Vaughn and I thought it our best opportunity to make a contribution, so we purchased lots of ingredients to make vanilla French toast, melon, and a vegetable/ham/egg scramble. Everything went pretty stress-free, helped a lot by the women who make the breakfast every day and know what needs to be done when and where they can chip in. It was actually quite fun.

[the ladies eating our breakfast and telling us it was good]

Here's a video I took of these guys husking coconuts. I mentioned during the kayak trip that it can be hard to get into a coconut if you don't have the right tools. This is an example of how easy it can be if you do have the right tool: (45 seconds)

Storyboards are Palau's signature souvenir. They each tell a traditional Palauan story from start to finish on one board (without panels). Storyboards have really turned into a big business, complete with a staffed store at the jail. Prisoners have lots of time on their hands, so they have cultured this business into a real money-maker. (No, the irony of giving prisoners access to wood-cutting machinery and hand tools is not lost on me.) Small storyboards go for $50 while big ones will easily go into the thousands. The boards pictured here would be in the $100-200 range.

When I was in Palau five years ago I needed to have some storyboards made as wedding presents. I asked around and this family recommended one of their family members who was in jail for life after a murder conviction. He did a great job for me and I never thought much more of him.
But then I saw him walking around the house during preparations for the ceremony. I wasn't sure of the questioning etiquette, so I just went forth with it to my friend Emadch: "Isn't Sam supposed to be serving a life sentence for murder?"
Emadch: "yes, but he got pardoned by the last president."
Ah yes, pardons!

[completed, just needs to be stained]

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