My first full day at the office was much slower-paced than the first day of introductions, board meetings, and meeting the community village members. I worked through my large pile of emails, blogged, taught my co-workers about the functions of Google Docs, and looked into affordable ways the office could start a website or blog (I’ll probably start a blog for them since it’s a cheap way of spreading news and stories).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView from the Helen Reef Program Office in Koror, Palau 

Instead of lunch, most of the workers here snack on these biscuits they refer to as “homemade cookies”. Homemade refers to made here on the island, but not actually made by one of them at home. They can be bought at any of the stores in town, but most go to the famous bakery in downtown Koror. This morning I stopped at a gas station and even found “homemade” chocolate chip cookies and they became my contribution to the worker snack table.

Saturday started off with a jog to town together with Louis, one of the conservation officers from the Helen Reef Island. He had spent the last 9 months on the island and just returned to Koror on Friday. His future aspirations are to go through the training at the Police Academy. Their training is intense and two of the requirements are a long run and a 3 mile open water swim. I’ve offered to get him into running shape and so we’re taking baby steps to build up endurance. On the way back from the ~4 mile jog, Moti (my neighbor) passed us in a car and instead of running back Louis jumped in the car and caught a ride back to the house. So by baby steps, we’re literally  talking baby steps.

We had planned to leave for our crab hunting trip at 8am, but as it took everyone a bit longer to come meet us at the house, we didn’t actually end up leaving until just before 11am. Before leaving we cooked fresh pumpkin from Helen Reef, made rice, and tried to make Kimchi. The second round of Kimchi turned out to be edible but the first was lacking an important ingredient…kimchi paste!

For our hunting trip we drove our neighbor’s, Moti, boat to the Rock Islands. These islands are uninhabited and just across the channel from where I live. The Rock Islands are made up of around 300 small islands that used to all be coral reef formations. They are known for the peculiar umbrella-like shapes created by the water movement around them that continuously erodes the base of the islands. Now they are rocky islands overgrown with beautiful trees and home to lots of tropical birds, amphibians, reptiles, and surrounded by beautiful corals and lots of reef fish. Among other, the Rock Islands contain popular tourist attractions such as Blue Corner, Blue hole, German Channel, Ngermeaus Island, and the famous Jellyfish Lake (Wikipedia).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADriving past some of the Rock Islands

Initially I thought we were going crab fishing, as that is my only past experience when it comes to crabs in the US, but we literally went crab hunting up on the Rock Islands. You have to tread softly, and listen carefully for any scrambling noises coming from the crabs as they climb around the rocks and trees. The ones we caught were anywhere from 4-6 inches in width across their carapace with long, dangerous pinchers. They are vicious fighters and only two of our hunting party’s members were quick enough to catch them with their bare hands. The others used tongs to catch the crabs. While climbing through the understory and up the rocky terrain on the island, I spotted two snakes–one was about 1 meter long and brown, the other was curled up but had a diameter of almost 2-3 inches and was striped black and white. Instead of looking at the snakes as I was doing, some of the others just screamed in fear and started running away from where I was pointing to the snake. The joke from there on out became to call out the location of snakes instead of crabs, which always resulted in screams from someone and people jumping away in fear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(left to right) Louis, Rosania, and Gloria on our crab hunting trip

What a fun trip. At the end of the day we cooked the crabs, barbequed unicorn fish, and had a kelp-mushroom-tofu-beef soup. Since arriving I’ve experienced some of the most tasty fish and tropical fruits.

Advertisements