The Ebiil Society adventures have begun! Today we had a whole day laid out for us with a tree planting project to seeking out a historic road for the people of Babeldaob to cooling off in the Mesekelat waterfall.
Most of us were awake and ready to start the day around 7am and prepared our breakfast soon after with things such as toast, bananas, ramen, boiled eggs, fish, and cereal. After promptly filling our bellies, around 8am we began by loading up the truck with 82 trees, such as Btaches, Kisaks, and Miich to help the society with a reforestation project in an eroded site in Ngermchau Bai, Ngiwal. While driving the route to the site, part of our group stopped to collect lemongrass to plant at the site to help assist in preventing future erosion.
After Ann gave us a brief history of the area, we got down and dirty. Literally. Ilima, El, and Surech guided us with the osib in digging a trench and hole to show us how to plant the way they would prefer. After the example, we pitched in and got started. Several of us learned how to properly plant the lemongrass in the trenches to help protect the newly planted and tagged trees. We only tagged a sample of the trees planted to watch their succession over time. Bryan and Scott helped us by cutting the wires with the single multi-use wire cutter that we also used for the clamping part of the tagging. This timely process, El took down the tree info and tag number to keep record of the area.
With the help of the Ngiwal youth and their leaders we were all able to work on an eroded hillside to dig holes, plant the trees and lemongrass, and properly tag and record info for the Ebiil Society’s project. While the ground wasn’t the best, we worked our way with the red acidic clay and gravel with lots of tender loving care. We planted, patted, and gave these little guys all the love and hope we could manage.
By this time we were famished, dirty, and ready for lunch and a cool down. Ann took us to Mesekelat waterfall and we ate under shade at the trail head. No photos of our delicious lunch were taken as we were too busy scarfing down our chicken sandwiches, banana fries, and grapes. But do not fret our journey to and from the waterfall was documented quite well!
As we ventured down the steps and path to the old Babeldaob road, which is about a few thousand years old, Ann told us about some of the road’s history. We got to see some of the caves that the Palauans took cover in during airstrike attacks, as well as some remains of the Japanese agriculture carts. We identified a few endemic trees of Palau along the road. The road was recently opened and cleared for passage and some of the water crossing were a bit sketchy.
At last we made it to our destination of cool, sparkling waters. Upon promptly rushing down the steps, we were all in the water within minutes. Exploration and relaxation at it’s finest happened at the Mesekelat waterfall. We spent a good chunk of time here, cooling down and washing off the dirt from our hard work this morning.
On the way back to the Ebiil Society we came across a fire along the road, Ann went to investigate and there was a man claiming to watch it carefully. Fires are illegal in protected areas but this may have been private property.
Dinner was just what we all needed after a long day. It consisted of mashed banana with coconut and coconut glaze, rice, grilled tuna, poke, papaya, mango, kangkum salad, kool aid, and water. We happened to briefly catch the sunset during the feast and it was extravagant! After dinner, Ulang and Osu joined us for a story and Q&A session. We learned about the women’s fisheries and sea turtle issues in this area. Whew! What a day, looking forward to another full day tomorrow!
Destiny Pauls, Natural Resources- Conservation Law Enforcement, Graduating Spring of 2021.
Jose Thomas, Liberal Arts, Graduating Summer of 2020.