This Sabbath, we were given the awesome opportunity by Tristan and Barbie, two of our friends here, to go visit a church that is on the other half of the island. So we all piled up in cars that had air conditioning in them, (something we had not dealt with in weeks) and made our way to this church. The drive alone took 20-30 minutes on a very well paved road, except for large huge holes big enough to fit a school bus in. These craters happened as the land just eroded out from underneath them and the road collapsed, I expected this to be a recent problem, but this has been there for almost 10 years, and is just cheaper to not bother fixing it and paving a small road to the side around the piece of road.
After driving on a gravel road for about 10 minutes we hit the church. A beautiful completely picturesque middle of the jungle style church, no air conditioning, just fans. All us SM’s got out and went to the service where we were surprised to learn that we would be doing song service, offertory, and opening prayer. We decided on doing an impromptu amazing grace, can’t argue with the classics. After the church service we had yet again, an amazing potluck. I still don’t know how there can be so many different ways to make rice, and they all taste great.
After this, Tristan and Barbie wanted to take us to the capitol. Now the capitol was in the middle of the jungle on a hill. The reason that it was built in the middle of the jungle was the belief that if the capitol was in an area, business and people would follow, but they didn’t, so there is this massive Washington D.C capitol building in the middle of the jungle on a hill. After this all the SM’s disappeared to their separate living quarters to take naps, which all SDA’s enjoy their sabbath nap from time to time. We headed back to the church in Koror for a pathfinder staff meeting, where hopefully I can be a teacher of some of the honors and teach them some good ol’ fashioned knot tying that I learned from my 5 years of being a Pathfinder.
On sunday, our day to really go out and adventure, we decided that we wanted to go out to the ocean, so we drove down to the SDA Elementary (the reason I say drove down to sda, is that SDA is the elem. school on Koror island, and we live on Arai, about a 20 minute drive, the female SM’s also live in Koror, so we are separated) So, Brandon, Ryan, and I all decided we wanted adventure, because teaching 5 days a week and then not getting in the ocean at one of the most beautiful diving locations in the world can just make you stir crazy. So we had heard about a river near PMA that is a couple miles long that leads out into the ocean, but that there were crocodiles and it was kind of dangerous. We were so ready to do that. We headed down to the chicken farm, where we got our canoe, and began the first step of our journey by walking a good quarter mile with the canoe before we got to the river. At this point, I was scared for my life, because I just heard that the river had crocodiles, I did not know which part had crocodiles, so I assumed as any rational human would that the ENTIRE river was infested, so I was bit apprehensive to push the canoe in, but Ryan and Brandon were ready to go, so we jumped in and headed off. To describe this jungle river perfectly….hmmm…imagine a stereotypical jungle river, and there you go. Trees hanging overhead, logs laying in the river that we’re all paranoid are crocodiles, and mud brown dirty water, that about sums it up. We headed down this river paranoid, looking for crocodiles, the entire time Brandon keeps saying “man, I’m so excited, I’m gonna jump in and catch one of the little crocs, duct tape it’s mouth shut and make it a pet in our apartment”
We continued heading down this river for about 10-15 minutes of paddling, the river was at low tide, so the roots of most of the trees in the river were exposed, and we were just enjoying the experience of having our own adventure, when we rounded a bend, we saw a few guys just chilling on a dock, drinking some beers, a couple of them had hats on or shirts wrapped around their heads to protect them from the sun, they see us coming and wave, smiling happily. But as we passed them, one of them yelled out a warning in the most stereotypical asian accent possible “you watch out! danger! crocodile in river up there!” pointing and waving the direction that we were already heading. I kinda just smiled naively and yelled back “don’t worry, we can take em” and we paddled off into the mangroves. Mangroves are extremely dense trees all who are submersed in about 2-3 feet of water. The path that we went through was about 5-6 feet wide now, and we were all waiting for that one giant 20 foot crocodile to slither into the water as we pass it. After about 20 minutes of paddling, watching ripples in the water, straining our eyes to see a croc, we come to this river path that leads off into the mangroves, we decided to not go this way because it looked like certain death. Imagine a stereotypical really spooky swamp, and that’s about it. All the trees are hanging heavy into the water, most of the light is blocked out, no air movement so the thick spiderwebs are interlaced in the mud stained tree trunks, it was not a path we wanted to go, so I promptly named it death cove. After only a couple more minutes of paddling, we had finally made it out into the ocean.
Now we weren’t released directly into the ocean, we made it into a massive lagoon surrounded, or just spotted with islands in them, towering islands that had cliffs at least a hundred feet high sticking out above the water. Our original intent for this trip was to find out if there was any good areas to spear fish or snorkel around here, but we failed to see any as the water in this area was only about 2-3 feet deep and dirty brown, there wouldn’t be any point to staying here. Off in the distance though, about 2 miles away, we see a beach on an island, and after debating about doing it or not, we go for it. Keep in mind that at this point, we had left at about 4:15 on our journey, and it gets dark about 6:30. We started paddling towards this island, and it seemed to take an eternity reaching there, traveling in the jungle river is different because you can see your progress, but paddling a couple miles on the ocean is just plain discouraging. After about 30 minutes, we get to the best possible beach you could see after being on a boat for 50 minutes paddling, palm trees and coconut trees lined the beach, perfect white sand lined the shore. We eagerly jumped off and walked around the island. I have an odd fascination with climbing things and looked to see how hard it would be to climb this what it appeared to be 200 ft mountain that towered on top of this island, but realizing we didn’t have time for it, I walked around the shore until I saw a man-made looking wall built by bricks. I walk up to it and to my surprise, this island was a defense spot from a WW2 artillery cannon. The cannon was still sitting there, rusting and growing moss, the wood that was once part of the mechanics inside had weathered away over the last 70 years or so.
We finally realized that if we headed back now, it would be getting pitch black by the time we got there, so we climbed back in, and headed off towards the inlet we’d come from, miles away. Now I am wary of crocodiles, but I’m much more wary of crocodiles in the dark, and if it’s raining, luckily all of these factors were at play. We were heading past Death Cove as Ryan, who I decided is much more adventurous than me starts saying “guys, we should totally go into there, we’d find crocs, think how awesome it’d be!” Brandon and I, not having a death wish, outnumbered him and kept paddling. After about 50 minutes of paddling in the dark or near dark, we started seeing massive bats flying around us, easily the size of a hawk. But we finally reached our entry spot and jumped out, carried the canoe back and climbed our way back up to PMA, where I am sitting comfortably writing this out, before I start work on setting up my lesson plans for the rest of the week of course. I also wrote this because my mother complains I am not descriptive enough when I talk about what we do here, I hope you enjoyed my lengthy blog update. More to follow.