Thursday, June 10, 2010

Palau, Days 3 and 4

OK, so I totally realize I have now procrastinated spread the telling the tale of my epic adventure a little longer than necessary.  Although I can blame tv, books, going to the gym (oh yes, this has become an actual regular occurrence in my life.  I too am shaking my head in disbelief) and other silly distractions.  What I've been trying to convince myself is that, as long as I hadn't finished writing about Palau some part of me was still there.  Alas, a month has gone by and reality has set in (about 3 weeks ago) that I am home and life is back to normal.  So, allow me to wrap up the rest of Palau...

Days 3 and 4 were not as magical as the second day, but still really great!  On day 3 we had a rental car.  We are pretty sure it was someone's family car that they just rented out as needed.  It was the easiest rental I've ever had, they came to the hotel, we gave them $35 cash and away we went.  We figured there wasn't a real need for securing the car with a credit card or copies of photo id, because we were on a small island with 1 road- where were we going to take it?

Since we weren't going to be in the water that day, we had no schedule to stick to.  We headed downtown in search of the Penthouse Hotel, where we had been told we could get a good meal and also great massages- both at reasonable prices.  Breakfast was ok, but the massage-WOW!!!  Each of us was escorted into a small room in the back of the hotel's beauty salon (where we were also offered facials and I was offered a pedicure after the beautician saw the bad shape my feet were in).  Luckily, we weren't there for the ambiance- my massage room was literally the size of a closet, barely enough room for the table, and also seemed to be the storage room for all the clean towels.  I figured for $25 I shouldn't expect the Mandara Spa (or even the soothing sounds of piped in rain forest music), I just hoped that I'd get a massage that was at least on par with the massages I used to get at the massage school in Denton (shout out to KJ).  Other than the accommodations (and truth be told I found some kind of strange comfort in hearing the salon sounds in the background, they somehow helped me relax, like the part of my brain I really can't ever turn off, and get so caught up trying to turn it off I can never really relax, the day to day noises in the salon gave that part of my brain something to focus on), it was one of the best massages I've ever had.  I spent much of the rest of that day walking around Palau in a post-massage fog.

After the massages, we went shopping and did some sight seeing.  We visited the Belau National Museum and looked at Palauan artifacts.  They also have a Bai, meeting house, on site.

The chair in the back is a real artifact, and yes that is me, and not Rosanne Roseannadanna, with humidity induced mushroom hair peeking out of the house.

In addition to the museum, we also went to jail, twice.  No, we did not get thrown in jail for trying to smuggle in three boxes of wine or for attempting to steal our rental car or anything scandalous at all.  We went there to buy storyboards.  There are many Palauan legends and the inmates carve them into wooden boards of different shapes and sizes.  They are quite intricate and although I didn't purchase a wooden one because I couldn't find my favorite story, I purchased one (not at the jail) made of colorful ceramic tiles.  Back to jail...  it's nice to walk into a jail of your own free will, knowing (hoping, praying) that you will shortly walk out.  Security here seemed, well, let's just say three women walked in carrying quite a bit of cash, we were asked to wait while they secured the shopping room, we were quickly escorted to the shopping room, left to shop and three women walked out with a little less cash (thanks to our purchases) and unscathed, except for our sense of smell, which was a little bit overwhelmed.  I never felt unsafe, but I never felt really protected either.  After a hard day of playing tourist, we retreated to the hotel pool- bliss!! We chilled out until it was time to go back to Kramer's for dinner, upon our entrance we were greeted with, "The Ladies are back!"  And had another great meal.

Our final day in Palau we spent doing the Rock Island Tour.  Basically, we spent all day on a boat, just the three of us and our awesome guide, Jefferson.  Going from snorkel site to snorkel site and getting a view of many of the 800+ rock islands that make up Palau.  We swam in the Milky Way, which is a cove that has a clay bottom (rather than sand).  It was quite the party as several other boats were already there.  We jumped into the water to gather some clay, which is said to have fountain of youth type qualities.  I was a ninny baby and didn't slather it all over like my fellow travelers did, they may have shed a few years, I only shed a few minutes :)

After the Milky Way, we went to a snorkel site and swam with three sea turtles.  It was pretty amazing.  Next we went to lunch, on our way we passed the beaches that were used during the filming of Survivor: Palau.  Jefferson told us to eat up and rest up because after lunch we were headed to Jellyfish Lake.
Another great lunch spot!

Shady spot on the beach

I wasn't sure why Jefferson told us we needed to rest up before Jellyfish Lake, but as soon as I stepped off the dock and saw the climb that was ahead of me, I figured it out.  Basically, we had to hike up a cliff (I may be exaggerating here, all I know it was really steep) through the jungle, avoiding wild chickens, while wearing dive booties and carrying snorkel gear- a good time for Princess Grace.  I thought, well at least once I'm up, I can get in the water and then just worry about getting down after my swim.  WRONG!!  We had to climb up, I guess basically to get on the island, and then down to get into the lake.  I was never so happy to see a calm body of jellyfish infested saltwater in my life.  I was pooped and didn't want to have to exert much energy after climbing Mt. Everest.  Then I looked at the lake and realized how large it was.  And I felt my legs and they were so, so tired.  And then Jefferson, my knight in shining armor showed up with a life jacket that I used like a raft and hopped on into that water and floated face down in a lake of jellyfish.  What?  In a lake full of jellyfish??  No worries, they don't sting.  Thanks to evolution, their need to sting has gone away.  When we first arrived, we had the lake pretty much to ourselves we floated out to the middle, noticing an occasional jelly here and there.

Some were big, some were small.  The further out we floated, the more jellies we encountered.  I would find myself completely surrounded and need to back out a little and then I would float back in.

It was mesmerizing and ethereal.  Somehow, although they pulsated with an electric vibe it was soothing.  Being in a lake, in the middle of an island, in the middle of an ocean surrounded by millions of harmless floating globs of goo, hearing sounds one could find on a nature cd was surreal and peaceful.  Until the Japanese tourists showed up, and I felt like I was back in Guam and was expecting to see Lam Lam buses pulled up outside (I forgot we had taken a boat to get there, but there were about 7 large boats docked when we got back to our boat). 

We made a few more snorkel stops that afternoon, one of which was Clam City,  a former giant clam farm.
This was one of the smaller clams that was left behind.

Once we were finished snorkeling, Jefferson took us through the islands.  We had seen this arch several times on our trip, this time he got really close so we could get some good pictures.

After the arch, Jefferson stepped on the gas and we cruised on back home.  As a parting gift, we got this...
A rainbow! Bidding us a fond farewell.

Of course, our trip wouldn't be complete without a final beer that turned into several final beers at Sam's and one appetizer that turned into two that turned into dinner.  We made it back to the hotel in time to hop into the pool for one last dip.  Our ONLY complaint about our trip was that the pool closed at 7.

I was sad when midnight arrived and we had to head to the airport (our plane left at some ridiculously late/early time think 2ish, I have blocked the exact time from memory).  I was ready to get back home to see Don and Price, but I knew I would miss Palau.

I knew when I left for Palau that I needed a break.  I needed to remember what it felt like to be Terrell, unencumbered for just a few days.  I know I don't have a miserable life and compared to so many, it's a pretty easy life.  But it's so nice to get away from all of the stresses in that life and pour something back into your soul.  I came back home feeling like I could be a better wife and mom.  I felt the same way I used to when visiting my little island off the coast of Alabama, and I needed that.  And, it reminded me how good God is in so many ways.  Unexpected ways...  Remember when I first got to Guam and I wanted to go to the Mom and Me exercise class and I just couldn't do it?  I was too scared and too lost and too busy crying in parking lots?  Well, you know that travel companion that I didn't know before I went to Palau, she actually teaches that class, and I've been going.  And it's been good for me and for Price.  Who would've thought I would have to travel so far to get somewhere so close?


Amy Ray said...

I love reading your writing! I hope you write a book one day. I will be the first person to buy it! Promise!

The trip sounds lovely! While I am in the midst of painting, caulking, crying, washing, packing and cleaning; I am dreaming of a lovely trip to a lovely island that I probably will never see. :)
Thanks for giving my mind somewhere to wander.

Kelly said...

Oh, what a fun read. I am SOOOOOO glad you went on that trip!!! I think you will reap its benefits for a very long time and in ways you don't yet realize.

Terrell said...

@ Amy- Thank yo so much. I'd love to write a book someday, just don't have any idea what it would be about! How's the move prep going? And you never know, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I'd be here... never say never- that's what I did and now we live here :)

@KJ- thanks my dear! yes and you will probably have to listen to me talk about it forever ;)

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