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A Place I Knew Nothing About

2010 March 12

We took off with hiking packs, a tent and fins, carrying even fewer plans and expectations; to a place I hardly knew about. The more we discovered that very little was written about our destination, it drew even more appeal. I just couldn’t wait.
Over 30 hours after leaving Boston, my adventure companion and I landed in the Republic of Palau. ‘New Time Zone’ is a misrepresentation. Zombie-like, I was nearly convinced we had flown beyond planet Earth. One long layover in Houston, and we continued across the Pacific, stopping in Honolulu, Guam, and the island nation of Yap. Once our passports were stamped, we were graciously picked up by Larry from the Tree D Hotel around 11:30 p.m. We had arranged two nights, planning to ‘wing’ the rest. The Tree D was perfect for hatching-out our adventure: affordable, air-conditioned, in one-blister-walking distance to town, and closer yet to a gas station that sold homemade donuts. This was more exciting than being able to buy bottled water! I realize I should probably get my priorities straight. Turns out, EPA tested the water in Koror, Palau a few years back and it’s fine! Region 9, we need to talk.

Outside the airport, as we piled our packs into his vehicle Larry exclaimed,

“Wow, it’s busy tonight!”

We groggily looked at each other, and then at the ‘crowd’ of passengers from the half-filled, lone, Boeing 737, exiting the desolate airport, grinning wildly.

It was a dark ride, but I already began to take in the mystique of Palau, watching the broad tropical leaves in the headlights, and catching the warm breeze in the backseat. I already felt the eerie shadows stubbornly lingering from WWII, contrasting with the sincerity and helpfulness of the people that live there and the communal simplicity of their lifestyle. It seemed no one is out to prove anything to anyone, or gain at another’s expense. I’ve never seen such contentment in so many faces, and it became clear that we didn’t just enter a new country; we came into a place where an individual, for good or for bad, isn’t easily forgotten.

Palau Part I

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey lives in Boston, working since 2007 for EPA’s New England Office as a Public Affairs Specialist, and a Superfund Community Involvement Coordinator. Currently Jeanethe is on detail to EPA’s Office of Web Communications in Washington D.C. working on web and social media outreach.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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16 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    March 12, 2010

    If in the our universe is peace, I am very happy. No wars, no disasters, no terrorists, no criminals, no political leaders, no bankrupt, no enemies, no dogmatism, no colonialism, no white collar cream, no angry, no traffic jam, no slavers, no glasses, no sleep, no cries, no drugs, no police, and nothing about. I just know, next time better the Leader of this universe is Queen. The others ? Nothing….!!!!

  2. Al Bannet permalink
    March 12, 2010

    So, is Palau free of commercial influences and modern corruptions? Not for long with the arrival of well-meaning tourists and all those who follow behind them!

  3. Shawn PAul Boike permalink
    March 12, 2010

    Sounds like a Terrific & enchanting place, wouldn’t it be cool to have a Video of this place with Elvis singing “In the Early Morning Rain” from his Aloha from Hawaii.

  4. Barry Everett permalink*
    March 12, 2010

    Pictures! We want pictures! ;-)

    One of the things that struck me in my first trek to an ‘undiscovered country’ some 40 years ago, on my first (of 50th) ocean SCUBA dive, was the calm patience of nature’s Ocean. Of the willingness to wait for the passing of an annoying species (us) that was dipping into the very tip of it’s universe, for a few minutes, hours, centuries, until it’s creatures could return to their work, of cleaning up after us when we have gone. I hope you got a chance to look into Palau’s ocean.

  5. armansyahardanis permalink
    March 12, 2010

    I am so sad among of us are different in the whole of the land of this world. Many cultures, orientations, interests, ideologies, skins, hairs; that their mind which is disintegration among of us. What next ? Globalism is the answer. Acculturation processes are needed by them, because, maybe, they still had angry with their experiences past. You are traveling to someplace because you have some money, time, and job, but they have not like yours. So we must help them, the people. But, I understand your aids be corrupted by they leaders. If we are critics, the leaders always touch nation proud sentiments. We need the time. Who is strong, have powers, have technologies, truth and patience; the people in the world can follow it. Save this planet…..!

  6. Jeanethe Falvey permalink
    March 12, 2010

    It was enchanting! I had a few songs stuck in my head along the way.. no Elvis tunes though… Thanks for reading! :)

  7. Jeanethe Falvey permalink
    March 12, 2010

    I know… I know.. The risks… I debated letting out some information about this incredible place. Hopefully the plane rides would deter anyone without the best of eco-tourism intentions! I wouldn’t say it’s totally free of modern influences, but it still feels more like a small town than anything.

  8. murray mccory permalink
    March 12, 2010

    If this place is a pleasant and kind place to live, then WHY? Anyplace where human beings reside seems to have human-made problems. Tourists out to visit, write stories, take photos, do not seem to realize the influence they have on more innocent peoples.
    Some people want to fix what is not broken, as in impersonal progressive change. If this place is good, lets allow it to remain so, without outside interference. And don’t allow some wealthy corporation to drill for oil, mine for gold, or set up factories to use child labor. Whats good for the EPA in America is good for them too.
    I have the highest of regards for innocent, kind people.

  9. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    March 13, 2010

    Palau is one of the pearls of the Pacific. The tourists are not the problem but the exploitation that comes from large corporations coming in to serve the tourist trade and the corporate lack of concern for the local environment and native people could create problems if not well policed. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  10. Jeanethe Falvey permalink
    March 15, 2010

    I almost submitted a picture for this post.. but the only one I had at this point during the trip was a screen shot of the monitor on the seat in front of me as we flew through/across/over the international date line. Very exciting!! Pictures will be in Part II!

  11. NASAGAL permalink
    March 15, 2010

    I did the same thing…went to Palau without knowing anything about it except a friend told me I would love the snorkeling there.

    So rented a kyak and went off by myself for a 4 day solo trip from island to island. One of the best trips ever!

    Hung out downtown afterwards and read their history at the locall museum; so appreciate the “small town” feel everywhere I went.

  12. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    The growing human population and its ever-expanding economy dooms all villages to suburban sprawl. It’s just a question of time and investments.

  13. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    The only way to “Save this planet” is to return it to its natural order, but human beings are driven by their instinct to grow and grow and grow, seemingly forever. Ecocide and extinction of species are the result.

  14. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Very few “innocent, kind people” remain anywhere in the World, and they are soon to be victims of “progress”. The “pronatalists” believe the Earth can support 50 billion people, no problem for investors.

  15. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    It’s not working to anyone’s advantage except those who fall in love with money: tourist, native, corporation executive, whoever. “Money talks and the people walk.” That’s reality in our modern society.

  16. Jeanethe Falvey permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Hey there, did you rent a Kayak from Planet Blue? How long ago?! In the coming parts during the next few Friday’s I’m going to highlight the eco-tourism options that we discovered. Tourism is a significant source of income for many that live there, to promote it can be a good thing, because you CAN experience Palau in a way that preserves and respects both the environment and the people that live there. Thanks for replying!

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