Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yap Trip

Let me just start by saying this trip was FREE! My friend, Dot won a free trip to Yap for two back in October at an MWR (military lingo for Morale, Welfare, Recreation) travel fair. Her hubs did not want to go besides the fact that they would have paid airfare for their four kids plus lodging. So she asked me to go and let's just say I didn't take long to ponder on the decision!

We left Guam and arrived in Yap but it was dark out so we were not able to see much. We walked down the stairs from the plane and there was this little building which was the airport. We were herded into a line for customs but as we were waiting someone was holding up a sign with our names. We were shuffled passed the customs line, greeted with the most beautiful leis (presented by young topless girls...not kidding!) and into a dark waiting room. I didn't think much of it at the time until I stepped out of the room to take a picture of the airport. The man that was in the room with us serving drinks jumped up to escort me out. As soon as I stepped out of the room there was almost a hush over the crowd of people waiting for their loved ones. All eyes on the strange white lady with the camera. I snapped and dashed back into the room. I had heard stories about the yapese people that they are very protective of their tradition. They are also a very suspicious people. There is fighting between the different villages even today. If you walk through a village other than your own you had better carry a blade of grass with you to show that you mean no harm. Those entering the village empty handed are looking for trouble.

After a short wait our escort for the trip, Al (the owner of the place we were staying, the Village View) showed up with his friend. We made arrangements to meet up with his friend to discuss the package that we would choose for diving/snorkeling. I didn't understand why we just did not discuss it right there but just followed along. I learned real quick that we were headed to a bar. Ugh. Just where I wanted to be. It's not bad enough that I was sticking out there like a sore thumb but now I'm entering the land of drinkers with inhibitions out the window! When we arrived to an open bar/shack with a dj on a stage and a dirt dance floor there were plenty of stares and even an invitation to dance. Yay me. I did my best to remain calm and act nonchalant but inside I was praying hard! We finally left and arrived at our final destination. It was a row of houses set right on the beach. The water at high tide literally crashed under the deck right below us. The moon shown brightly on the water and it was just a beautiful sight. We were very thankful to have arrived safely and got some shut eye.

The next morning we awoke to the soothing sounds of the ocean. Ah what a sound. If I could live out my life right there, I would be a happy woman. We walked across the dirt road to the only eating establishment within 30 miles, the MoonRize cafe. It was completely open with nature as it's decor. Breakfast was rice, scrambled eggs and spam. What more could you ask for? We spent the day relaxing and walking around the village. Each village has a man hut where the men go to get away from the wives (or so we're told!) and to share the stories that were passed on to them.

There are ancient stone paths set up from village to village around the island so we decided to take a stroll up the path....or I did....Dot was a bit hesitant to go off into the woods on a strange island....I don't know why?? ;-P Needless to say, we made it back safely.

The next day Al took us around by van. There are little stores set up with a few items around the island. They are set up like a small food stand in the states where you stand on the outside of it and tell them what you want. We got to see a lot of stone money which is Yap's currency. It's used more for tradition now or trading of land. The stone money was brought over from Palau to use for trading. We stopped at a spot where they continue the tradition of making the canoes out of giant logs.

That same day we went to Colonia, the capitol of Yap. Dot got a massage at a local hotel and I got a foot massage. I think Thailand has ruined me for massages after the 3 hour massage I got there. Um, no thanks, not doing that again. While I was waiting for Dot to finish I took a stroll out by the pool and who did I run into but Nick, my neighbor from Guam!! He's a captain of a Coast Guard ship and had pulled into port for the night. It was comforting to have someone we knew there after our little bar excursion the night before!

The next day we enjoyed a day out on the boat. We went snorkeling at a few different spots and I saw an octopus! Definitely the highlight of my morning. That afternoon Al took us to his daughter's school to watch the children practice their traditional dances in costume for their upcoming graduation ceremony. We had such a blast and I made friends with the local kids. They got a great kick out of the digital camera and the fact that I could take video of them and play it back.
Our time in Yap was short but sweet. We were able to truly get an appreciation for the Yapese culture. Being there felt like I was back in time 100 years ago. But the best part of the trip was spending quality time with a good friend, a lifelong friend, Dot.