Paradise greeted us at 4 a.m. with the sound of roosters serenading outside our window. Friends we made later on told us we’d eventually just stop hearing them. We had no idea how true that was (amusing story… part IV).
Day 1 was spent walking Koror to get the lay of the land. Got breakfast – chicken stir fry, (we offered a nearby rooster) and a cheese/egg burger for me. It was indeed an egg on a burger. We started following the locals to dine shortly thereafter.
For the ‘main drag,’ Koror was quiet. The speed limit gave dogs and chickens ample time to go about their days crossing The road that went through town. We sought out the Palau Conservation Society (PCS) to meet a friend of a friend – missed him, so we snorkeled across the street. (Yep, it was clean enough.) Still blister-free, we continued onto what would become our second home there: Sam’s Tours to plan finishing up my diving certification!
Later that night at Kramer’s (go if you’re there!), we met up with our friend Scott (PCS), for the first time in person. As we came in he said; “I KNEW I drove by you guys three times today!” I guess we slightly stuck out… small place. Talking that night, it already began to feel like we were home away from home.
The next day we explored the island of Ulong (where contestants ‘roughed it’ on Survivor) with Scott’s family, and other new friends including Ron Leidich, a biologist and founder of Planet Blue Kayak Tours. Talking with Ron was like being back at camp, only way cooler. We were learning (alongside the actual kids there with us) how some of Palau’s plants were pollinated, and which ones wouldn’t kill you, should you ever get sick of coconuts. Helpful, since we were scheming to kayak and camp on the Rock Islands and beyond for a week on our own.
Watching a stunning sunset on the boat ride back that day it hit us: one trip, a few weeks, would never be enough.
About the author: Jeanethe lives in Boston, working for EPA’s New England Office as a Public Affairs Specialist, and a Superfund Community Involvement Coordinator. Currently Jeanethe is also working on web and social media outreach for EPA’s Office of Web Communications in Washington D.C.