I Love Palau….Wow Wow

Alii, and Welcome to Palau!!!  It seems like just yesterday I was hearing these words for the very first time.  Unbelievable!  A whole life seemed to have started and ended within my short visit.  I met friends that will last a lifetime, had love interests that definitely kept me on my tip toes, catastrophied into an experience that pushed me into manhood, and found what truly makes me happy in life.  But why Palau?  Working as a bartender, I think I got that question from every single patron.  I’ll tell ya exactly what I told them……I don’t know!  I could have picked thousands of other spots on this planet, but something drew me to this magical archipelago.  Did I get what I wanted to out of the experience……..I got a million times more! 

So what did I get out of my stay in Palau?  That question I have only gotten once.  Firstly, I found that a smile and kind attitude will make ya not only bond with friends immediately, but buy you a one way ticket into the hearts of families.  Speaking of families, I also discovered how much I love and miss my parents and relatives back in the states.  I realized that where my heart calls home is any location where those Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are celebrated with the people that were there for me even before day one.  Another lesson I learned is to just go for it.  Figure out what you want to do, then do it.  It’s that simple!  If people try to alter your plans, be weary.  They are not you or know your capabilities.  ‘If someone says you can’t do something, it’s because they can’t do it.’  Trust yourself and dive head first, leaving no stone unturned.  No one wants to say ‘I wish I could have…….!’

Ya, ya, but what about living in Koror, the not so philosophical stuff?  What did I learn about island life?  Well, since everyone is so confined, when one person gets sick, the whole island gets the illness.  A couple minor epidemics spread over this dot of earth during my stay which basically leashed me to the toilet for a few days, to put it nicely.  However, there is one thing that can spread faster than a sickness in such a tiny place…..and that’s Gossip!  Near the end of my visit here I had a stranger come up to me at Abai Ice and ask, ‘Are you the guy that believes that aliens had sex with monkeys to make people!’  Those were his exact words!  Also a taxi driver was spreading the news of my herpies disease (which I don’t have to all zero of you ladies that should be concerned ;-).  I also learned to take it easy and appreciate the simple things.  Some of the few foreigners I saw visit the internet cafés would get so upset at the workers for the slow connection speed when you really should be thankful you can even sign online in the first place.  Sometimes entire days would pass where the electricity and water would be down and you just got to deal with it…No worries! 

Memories….Goodness!  I’m not going to get into individual adventures, but what times there were.  Everything from the typical (really not so typical about it) fishing and diving, to the extremes of an epic paddling expedition, living on a deserted beach, and surviving a treacherous shipwreck.  As far as randomness is concerned….probably not many can say they hold the world record size for two crustaceans (a lobster and a shrimp); or have had the privilege of raising a feral monkey to go from wild and crazy to cute and cuddly (the little devil will always be mischievous)!  I had a blast playing a whole season of soccer and never winning a single game, and was proud to finally reach my bench pressing goal I set for myself when I first arrived.  Playing cards on Wednesdays and Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesdays and Fridays were times anxiously awaited for.  Bartending in the evenings on a tropical island was a dream come true.  Wake boarding around the rock islands on Christmas day and hanging out with a reggae band for a week was even more thrilling than it sounds.  I found myself face to face with frenzied sharks, wrestling giant triggerfish, threatened at Palauan bars, treating infected feet and enormous boils, and waking up in the wee hours of the night to my door being slammed by some extremely interesting characters to say the least! 

So many big events from such a little place in such a short time, none of which I regret.  Palau….it’s beauty and its people will always be dear to my heart and on my mind.  Thank you Palau for everything!!!   

 ‘Sulang!  Reggae nimi nai mon!!!!’                                



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