Castaway June-July (2007)

Wow, where do I start? 


Well, I left off on preparing for the trip (more like an expedition) to rock island life.  The mission: to find a deserted beach and inhabit it for a full month.  Well, I’m writing this upon a mission completed!   While living in Koror, Palau I had a routine where visiting the internet café was a daily phenomenon.  No longer as I continue my journey across the globe will I make it a priority to write daily, however, I will overview as often as possible on the noteworthy experiences that take place.  Regardless, lets get to living on a beach, do I recommend it……No Way!  Was it life changing…….You better believe it!  Would I ever do it again……Who knows, I just might be that crazy!


Let’s get to it! 

After we paddled around for a bit in Moses II, we settled on a beach facing South.  The small stretch of sand had a beautiful view of a lagoon protected by reef littered with rock islands jetting out of the turquoise sea.  Something you can only imagine if you look at pictures of Palau.  Who is we you ask, it was Kathleen (‘Ruthless’ as I like to call her), my bro Shaneo, JaMarcus, and ofcourse myself.  We set camp, cracked open some coconuts as an initiation, and began island life. 

JaMarcus had his mind set on leaving early from not only the beach, but from Palau in general.  He dropped the news that he was going to leave tomorrow, so the next day we dropped him off with some local Palauans and he returned back to Koror and eventually the States.  From what I gather he missed home and really didn’t care too much for the idea of travelling.  I think he got what he was looking for out of the trip for the two weeks he was here.  Enough of this, back to beach life!

Early on in the trip we tried to collect a lot of fire wood, as time went on I found that the Australian pine that grows in certain spots worked wonders as fuel.  I learned a lot throughout the trip as far as efficiency in survivorship is concerned.  We set up a giant tarp that not only provided us a hang out area, but also funneled the daily rainwater into a collecting bucket.  That same tarp is where we stock piled lots of wood for fire.  Keeping it dry (covering it with trash bags) turned out to be just as easy as containing potable rain water; being out here during the rainy season…thank goodness!  We also stored the dead dry palm fronds in trash bags as kindling to get our fires started.  Our entire camp, from the tarp area (as we called the ‘Champagne Room’) to the jungle hammocks, then to the beach was laid with a green palm frond walkway.  We went palm frond crazy, which allowed our feet to occasionally have a break from the sticky sandy ground.  If our chores were caught up, which were never that strenuous, we would head out on mini-expeditions.

One day we decided to paddle up a tidal inlet through a narrow maze of mangrove jungle.  It reminded me of paddling up through the Jurassic age.  The huge bats would fly overhead while giant eels would swim right past the boat in the milky water.  This was the perfect habitat for the salt water crocs, but unfortunately we saw none.  After a 20 minute paddle, the narrow creek of salt water opened into a beautiful yet enormous marine lake.  We paddled all around, for the day was nothing but pristine sunshine.  We were greeted by a school of big eagle rays who probably found their way into the habitat the same way we did long ago.  Even though it was a gorgeous day, I could tell trouble was stirring with Ruthless.  She started to act kind of sickly, and this was as early as day 8.
By day 11 enough was enough.  She wanted to go back to Koror.  For some reason I had it set in my mind to not give up.  Selfish, I definitely was, and looking back on it I should have compromised and gone back with them to civilization.  Do I regret that I stayed out there by myself, no, but would I do it again under similar circumstances, probably not.  I waited for so long for my brother and Ruthless to come out and visit me in Palau, and now that they were here, we were separated again.  I was left on my beach…now truly deserted, while they were back living in a foreign land that I could have familiarly shown them around.  On day 11 I paddled them out to an island in the distance that a boat pulled up too.  I dropped them off with what they needed, and headed out back to what was my home, only hoping that everything will be alright.  The plan was for them to hitch a ride back out here after cleaning up a bit and recharging….but that day took way too long!

So now I find myself alone in the rock islands, well, with the exception of this one rat that decided to be my friend.  Along with the rat were a gazillion little hermit crabs with a couple in the baseball size range.  I named every hermit crab I encountered Bruce after the striking resemblance that they and he share.  I ended up talking to Moses II the boat similarly to the way Tom Hanks did to Wilson.  I didn’t really realize this till it was pointed out later.  I ended up being naked for about three days, till I sat down on something that left my @$$ burning all through the night.  I think it must have been a fungus, boy, that was horrible.  I went spear fishing daily…which meant paddling out to some spots that I found to be money locations.  My two favorite spots I found were about two hours away from the beach.  I got fairly good at paddling solo, but I’m sure I looked pretty foolish.  Spear fishing was always an adventure in it self.  During the night it’s like stealing candy from a baby, but I didn’t want to risk that while being all alone.  Too many locals have stories and scars to show the dangers of night time spear fishing.  I’m confident when with someone else, but I decided to pass it up while by myself.  To make up for my lack of fish, I would just hunt for longer amounts of time during day light.  It’s harder, but it definitely helped me sharpen my skills.

Spear fishing was never scary, except for one moment.  The longer you were in one location, the more sharks would appear.  I was about 15 feet deep, at the deepest spot, and I had just shot a nice parrot fish (a delicacy here).  It didn’t stay on the spear tip and spiraled down into a hole at the bottom.  I saw the hole it entered, so I went down to see if I could quickly grab it and surface to plop it in Moses.  I went down and couldn’t find it.  I dove down a second time on a full breathe of air and thought I saw it there in the coral, bleeding and dying.  Immediately I felt the presence of something else.  Something grabbed my attention and to my left a big black tip shark was heading right towards me.  It was coming in on the smell.  Immediately I cared less about the parrot and did my best to show the shark that I wasn’t the dying fish.  As he realized that this big primate was not his normal food source, he turned in just as much freight as me.  I swam back to the boat, passing a few other smaller sharks knowing it was time for me to switch locations.  Sharks were everywhere out here, and even at night don’t pose too much of a threat, nonetheless, I’m not going to push my luck while alone, and I was able to get a decent amount of fish to last on no problem.

For the most part I ate 8 inch reef fish sized tangs and smaller parrot fish.  I did get lucky with one nice snapper which filled me up alone.  Occasionally around camp I would place halved coconuts to attract the delicious coconut crabs (Which worked surprisingly well), in addition whenever I passed giant clams, I would bring them my clam farm that I started.  I stockpiled lots of clams throughout the span of the trip…the ones I didn’t consume I scattered back over the reef.  Originally we also brought rice and canned vegetables to last the whole trip, and now being alone, I was never for a lack of food.  The granola bars we brought were money as well….definitely life saving!  A couple times, to reward myself I would go through the steps of making coconut clam chowder.  It is a very time consuming task, just milking the coconuts alone takes a couple hours (You have to scrape out all the hard meat, then squeeze all the juice out of it), but when it’s complete, letting it simmer over the fire, it easily turned into my favorite rock island meal.

Usually before dinner I would try and do a rock island workout.  That consisted mainly of pushups and sit-ups.  I figured paddling worked out the back, shoulders, and arms, so I only complimented that with different muscle groups.  I wanted to work on stretching as well, but my desire to do a split was surpassed by my desire to have babies in the future.  I ended up doing way more pushups then I thought possible, and the sit-ups definitely helped tone me.  It was great, but got very repetitive.  By the end I was anxious to start working out in a real gym. 

A couple times some hunters came to my beach.  I greeted them as hospitably as possible, and they thought it was cool seeing me out here living as the ancients did.  One of them was here hunting fruit bats, while the other for coconut crabs.  The coconut crab guy even invited me to go net fishing with him, and all day long we caught lots of fish that he sold to the fish market.  He rewarded me with a nice jack that was very tasty.  The fruit bat hunter shot the little guys down with a pellet gun.  I caught one of his victims and it was dying in my hands.  They are cute little guys, like tiny dogs, and seeing it suffering was not very cool.  Plus, there doesn’t even look like there is much meat on them.  I won’t be upset with myself for leaving Palau without tasting fruit bat.  I did kill and eat an eel, and that turned out to be not worth it as well.  There wasn’t that much meat and it was littered with bones.  Fish were the food of choice!

To pass the stormy days I laid in my hammock reading the bible.  Well, I finished the whole book.  I loved the Old Testament, but it got a little long with all the prophesies, proverbs, and psalms.  The stories were interesting but God was very different between the two testaments.  Almost night and day.  In the old testament it was all about destroying all the un-chosen people in the holy land…with no mercy…women and children alike (a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye).  The new testament was nothing but love and peace to the sons of Judah as well as the gentiles (Treat others how you would want to be treated, and loving your enemies).  All the letters of Paul in the New Testament got very redundant and revelations wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be.  All in all I really grasped a better understanding for what it was I was taught while attending church.  I was familiar with several of the stories, and reading the book helped me chronologically place the events as well as better understand them.  I also thought it was cool to just relax and read the bible on my deserted beach…Jesus spent forty days and forty nights in the desert…while I was spending my month on a desert beach.  Nice!

My brother came back on the 24th day, courtesy of Jason from the gym.  Ruthless apparently had enough of the beach and was currently in the calling of her womanly body.  She decided to stay behind and relax in Koror for only the few days we had left.  When Shane came out I was so excited to see a familiar face.  I grew to love it out on my beach, even alone, but I was happy it was coming to an end; I was ready for a different adventure.  When he came, we decided to head out to Ngerong, an island on the other side of the Jellyfish lake chain.  It was a three day, two night trip that was spectacular.  We had great weather.  We snuck into Jellyfish lake from the back side.  There were way more jellies then the first time I explored the lake.  Shane loved it.  Ngerong proved to be the definition of a tropical island.  It was flat, compared to the rock islands, and had some beautiful beaches and vistas.  We did nothing but relax after circumnavigating its shores and interior.  On the way back, we anchored on a rock and watched the sunset after snorkeling and eating a granola bar.  What more can one ask for!   That night we snorkeled and found some money lobsters.  None close to the size of the one I found on the Kayak trip with Mike (What up Bro-D), but edible and tasty nonetheless.  We saw several sharks, but none acted aggressively.  It was still funny to watch Shane constantly shine the flashlight behind him….I could tell he was paranoid that one was stalking him form the blackness of behind.  We were also stung up by little glowy things that really did their best to inflict harm.  Shane thought he was going to go into cardiac arrest, we had to cut it short, but we had more than enough food.  A couple nice fish, a big crab, and some lobsters.  It was a beautiful day and a calm and placid night….a great close to a magnificent trip. 

The next day we paddled out around the bend (where I formally shipwrecked) but the winds were now coming from the South West, so it was calm as could be.  Regardless, I was still nervous being in open water, especially after what Mike, Raquel, and I went through before.  It turns out that what was once near impossible, was now easy, but what was easy, was now definitely not worth risking.  For the stretch back to Koror had massive wind capped waves and ferocious winds.  We found out that tying Moses to our waste and swimming with our fins was much easier than paddling him through the current (which was literally impossible for us).  We ended up camping at the entrance of Dolphin Pacific waiting for morning so we could be rescued by a motor boat.  (We saw a huge lion fish swimming by the dock, Nice!)  We ended up giving Moses II to the security guard we met in the morning.  He was overjoyed to receive the boat and we were more than happy to give it to him.  I was glad we were able to help him out (after all he was helping us out), and I’m also assured Moses II will be properly taken care of.  He was a good boat and a good friend….He will be missed!  (Ya, I went psycho out there alone with my good ‘ole buddy)!

We hitched a ride back to Koror just in time for the lunch buffet at the Taj.  I literally ate too much that it came up even faster looking exactly as it went in.  My body was not accustomed to eating that much or Indian food for that matter.  Even though my stomach was all upset, I would have wanted it no other way.  If there was one day to overindulge, I wanted this to be the moment.  Later that day I treated myself to an entire cheesecake.  All the rock island workouts turned out to be nothing but preparation for me to have room to gain weight upon return.  The way that that cheesecake tasted made it well worth it indeed.  Yum! 

I’m back to my normal self now, working out at the gym for the few days that I’ll remain here in Palau.  Shane and Kathleen come with me everywhere I go, which is kind of weird, I feel like we stand out a lot more than when I just walk alone.  I think that everybody is trying to get something different out of this trip so I don’t know how long it will work out together.  To me, this isn’t a vacation, it’s my life, and to them, I think they are just on a budget vacation.  We’ll see what happens.  So far no one is ringing anyone’s neck, hopefully it will stay that way!  Hey, if you want to lose weight…go live on an island for a month…I guarantee you it will work, Trust Me!  Well, until next time from a different country….

Live the Dream!

2 Responses to “Castaway June-July (2007)”

  1. Travis.. quite an update. If I didn’t know you so well I’d be amazed at your island adventure. What’s the next country? When do you plan on being back in the US? My Keywest plans changed a bit.. I’ll fill you in before I leave for Florida on the 17th of August though.

  2. Erin says:

    Tstorm, what’s up? I know you can’t update every day but I for one need to know if you found protein powder in Southeast Asia. Inquiring minds! 🙂

    Also, what’s up with the passwords, yo?

    Shoot me an email once you get back stateside.


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