Day 1 in Palau began with a trip to the Belau National Museum (BNM). We were excited to learn about Palauan culture, history, and art. BNM taught us that Palau has a diverse history influenced by western Europe, eastern Asia, and Melanesian traders, colonists, and voyagers. This has resulted in an extremely beautiful country with very unique traditions, customs, and politics.
After our trip to BNM, we enjoyed a bento lunch of teriyaki beef, pork, fried chicken, fried rice, and the most delicious bananas on the planet, provided by a local restaurant, Yano and Son’s. When lunch was over, we departed for the island of Babeldaob. Along the way, we stopped at Ngardmau Falls, a former Japanese bauxite mining site. We followed the rail tracks to beautiful natural water slides and pools. Continuing the trail through the jungle, we were refreshed by a sudden rain storm. At the end of the trail, we waded under Ngardmau Fall, enjoying the cool water before our long trek up over 500 stairs.
Upon our arrival in the fishing hamlet of Ollei, we were delighted to learn we would be hosted by the Ebiil Society on a scenic oceanfront. After settling in, the Ebiil Society staff provided us with our evening repast, a dinner of fried marlin, marlin poke, stir fry noodles, coconut milk taro, tofu salad, and rice. Many of us realized for the first time how incredible fresh fish could be, despite life long aversions to seafood.
Later, we met in the classroom to discuss plans for our week in Ollei, and have a formal introduction to Anne Singeo, the executive director of the Ebiil Society. She spoke passionately about marine management, the opportunities we have here as students, and the village’s eagerness to share their knowledge about fishing and resource management over the coming days.
Exhausted and well fed, we turned in early to prepare for our next day of adventure in Palau.