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.