Thursday, December 27, 2012

Return to Angaur, Palau

My farewell from Japan didn't go very well in my eyes and I didn't want to do a bunch of sad blogging, so I opted just not to post.  I've been away hunting all fall and I mostly think my blog readers aren't interested in my killing stories, so I again held back.  But now I'm abroad again and freshly excited about my daily life so I'm going to do my best to share what I wish I would've been more easily able to during my Peace Corps experience 8-10 years ago.

My winter Plan A fell through so now I'm executing Plan B, which has me residing in Palau until late February.  When I left Japan in August I hedged my winter plans by buying a roundtrip ticket for nearly the same price as a one-way.  I took that flight back to Japan on December 5th, then bought a one-way ticket to Okinawa to kill a week with friends before flying on to Palau.  I've since taken a boat down to Angaur, which is the island where I lived during the second half of my Peace Corps tour.  There's less than 150 residents on Angaur and about four times as many [invasive] monkeys.  The school still has 27 students, just as it did when I was here.  There are only 5 residents over 70-years-old, partially because anybody 75+ moves to Koror to be closer to medical care, but also because Palauans just don't live to be very old.  A case in point is the reason I came yesterday, which was for the funeral of a 45-year-old teacher who died of a heart attack.

There's a Peace Corps Volunteer, JICA (Japanese version of PC) volunteer, and an Australian couple building a restaurant for surfers.  I've met the Aussies, who are really interesting people (they worked on the set of Survivor for ten years), but not the volunteers yet.  I've mostly been wandering the streets recognizing people and trying to remember their names while they recount their memories of me (fishing, picking papayas, making pizza, collecting snakes).  Also, Super Typhoon Bopha hit the island two weeks ago and caused quite a bit of damage.  Electricity and water were out for over a week.  Two excavators, two loaders, and a few dump trucks came in on a barge today to begin clearing the perimeter road, which is almost impenetrable even on foot.

The internet is terrible so I'm not sure how this blogging thing will work, especially if I try to upload pictures.  But in case this works, here are a few pictures of the last project I did while on Angaur in 2004. I had received a donation of a bunch of books and sports equipment from my hometown Kiwanis Club so I used those as incentive prizes for an aluminum can recycling project, which collected something like 60,000+ cans.  We then turned those in to Koror and received $160 back.  I had a bunch of paint donated then used some of the can money to buy the colors we still needed.  I was in charge of summer school at the time so I commissioned the kids to come to the port for a few days and paint this mural, which was a lot of fun.  Glad it's still holding up.  ('Buik Belau' is my Palauan name from Angaur.  It means "Boy of Palau".)