Today is a day of great joy – it is raining! pouring, in fact, a proper monsoonal deluge.
We have buckets out under every drip!
|Precious drips of water - enough for two showers and a load of washing today!|
Palau will also be rejoicing; they have been in the grip of a fierce drought for many months.
I got up early, when the water was silky and smooth, not a drop of rain, not a breath of wind. Perfect for a very nice swim around the bay. And the rest of the day…Well I have found a comfortable position from which to watch the rain and read my book…
And now I am going to have a struggle with the internet again…
I am hoping that my new friend Gloria, in the PNCC office, will have been able to revive my SIMcard…
|Kindly Gloria (but it still doesn't work...I am using a prepaid card in Sam's Bar...)|
Yesterday we had a touristy day, with a hire car. We drove for many miles, through green green green jungle. Mostly smothered with the dreadful strangling invasive vine the Americans used as camouflage during various military experiences in South East Asia and the Pacific.
Like this abai house…totally deserted; I think we were supposed to pay $25 (US) each…but there was no custodian so we went right up
and looked through the windows.
So beautiful! Abai houses, I have since discovered, were built as meeting places…for men! Not sure where the women were supposed to meet – down in the river, scrubbing the laundry, probably.
There was no wildlife at all. Maybe there are wild pigs, but I think the only native animals are bats – I did see one, a large fruit bat cruising through the trees.
Not much sign of agriculture; maybe a greenhouse or two, and a scrubby patch of taro. Some nice looking dogs.
|Looks like Jed Headlam!|
No villages, no goats, one or two roosters.
Palau is very sparsely populated…
So when we espied an enormous dome on top of a hill we were quite startled. Even more so when we drove up and found the Palau Capitol Building…
|Just a small fraction of the edifice...|
This huge collection of buildings houses a luxurious set of courtrooms, an executive building, a rotunda, parliament. It is absolutely magnificent and breathtaking. And…mostly empty…
|Lots of local artwork (loved it)|
We found a kindly custodian, Jack, who was very proud to show us the gleaming courtrooms.
|Jack and Pete|
Pete thought it would be good for me to have a courtroom photo; happy memories of my days in the Commonwealth Law Courts in Hobart!
|Marguerite and Jack in court|
The population of Palau??? 20,000…Jack said it used to be 35,000 but…not now.
This morning our neighbour Eric, from Ariel IV (Sweden,) came by for a chat. He and Birgitte had also hired a car yesterday but they did NOT go up to the Capitol complex. He is very angry and embarrassed because the whole project was funded, quite recently, by the European Union. Why, nobody knows!! Eric is a doctor and he says the local hospital is a disgrace. Why on earth the EU decided to fund such an enormous white elephant, for a population of 20,000, is a mystery and yes, probably, an embarrassment. Apart from anything else, the complex is quite a long way from the main town, Koror, with no villages nearby at all. I imagine that the majority of Palauans would never even have seen the Capitol…
We also found some relics of WWII, and drove in quite confidently to take a photo of a tank. This wasn’t a particularly prepossessing sight (or site) and we were a bit affronted to have a man rush up to the car to tell us that as we had driven in, we now owed him $25. Each!! This is a huge amount of money and we said we really didn’t need to stay, thank you very much.
|Didn't get a chance to find the best position for my tank photo...but trust me, that dark hulk in the foreground is a rusty old tank next to a bombed out concrete building (didn't love it...)|
We had lunch at an enormous Chinese hotel along the way, where I had a very delicious clear Thai soup and Pete had an immense hamburger.
|This hotel is heaving with happy prosperous glamorous Chinese|
In the evening we went to the Taj restaurant – Indian food! Bliss! and had a very nice meal. But…we only had one serve of rogan josh, one mushroom and pea curry, one serve of naan and two drinks and it cost me $67 (US)!!! Not such bliss after all…
There was an evening market across the road from the Taj, so we wandered around looking at the stalls selling either totally breakable plastic crap, or breathtakingly expensive jewellery. (And no I didn’t want a large black anchor on a large black chain for $148, thank you.)
We had missed most of the performances, but there was a bit of singing, in the local Palauan language, which I thought was great, and then some dancing, by the junior class from the local high school.
They smiled cheerily but were extremely shy and reserved and made very small cautious movements…loved it!
I was delighted to see how long the girls’ hair grows here. Mightily impressive! I asked this girl, Sikt, if I could take a photo of her amazing long black mane. She was a bit bored with the idea but agreed readily enough. (My PNCC friend Gloria has a granddaughter called Sikt; she told me it is a traditional name meaning abundance.)