From Palau 1: I arrive to Palau!

This summer, Inger is working with the Health Policy and Research Department at the Ministry of Health on the island of Paluu. She will blog about her experience here at OHSU StudentSpeak. Learn more about Palau here.

EPISODE 1: I arrive to Palau!

Alii and greetings from Palau!

After a one-day delay (…rookie mistake: failed to confirm my flight and showed up to PDX to learn my 7:50am flight is now the 7:10am flight. Thanks for the email United!), I’ve been in Palau now for 3 days. And I have to admit that I’ve been drinking heavily ever since I landed. I carry a bottle with me everywhere I go. And I’m happy to report that I haven’t become ill yet! (…yet…)

Nothing tastes better in 98% humidity than an ice-cold Nalgene full of H2O. Thanks to my new SteriPEN I’ve been drinking freely from the tap.  I should say here that I haven’t tasted how good an ice-cold beer tastes in the tropics…yet. Every single convenient store has at least 2+ advertisements in the windows for all sorts of beers (Busch, Tecate, Asahi) but I haven’t become desperate enough to fork over $6.50 for a six-pack of urine in a can. It’s probably good that I take a break from beer for a while although I surely miss my Deschutes, Ninkasi, and Bridgeport friends.

I visited the Belau National Museum yesterday to play tourist and get an introduction to the ‘natural and cultural history of the islands’. I found a bottle of taro wine in the gift shop that I was very tempted to purchase. Earlier that day I had been treated to taro-leaf sauce/paste which was delicious. I haven’t had a bad meal here yet: Filipino breakfast with ‘tocino’; whole fried fish; and Micronesian breakfast. Rumor has it that you can also order whole bat off the secret menu at the Penthouse restaurant but I didn’t want to go all-out in my first week here.

It’s pretty reasonable to walk anywhere you would need to go (although taxis only cost $2 in the Koror and $4 to cross the bridge to the northern island). However, I was surprised by the amount of traffic in Koror (by the way, most—not all– cars are imported from Japan and the driver sits on the right side of the car…but they still drive on the right side of the road). On my walk back from the Museum, I was offered a ride at least 3-4 times (the fourth time was just a honk but I’m pretty sure they would have given me a ride). And there are a lot of wavers—which I love! This reminds me of driving on the Winchuck or through Northwest Arkansas.

Other things that have surprised me or rather, that I did not expect to see:

  • The amount of stray dogs (…maybe I can find dog on one of those “secret menus”)
  • Chickens! They seem to stay in their own yard but they are everywhere.  No need for an alarm clock in Palau.
  • Finding Tillamook cheese and Bob’s Red Mill products in the grocery store…I may have got a little too excited about this. Also, okra is found in abundance in the produce section. And a pint of blackberries is only $8.00.
  • The amount of Palauan spoken—this appears to be the conversation language among locals.
  • Lack of beaches. I knew that Palau was a coral island but all the damn pictures you see of the place are full of white-sand beaches! From what I’ve seen walking around so far, the land just drops off into the ocean. But yes! the water is as beautiful and clear as the postcards.

Today Ivan (a Univ. Hawaii MPH in Social and Behavioral Health Sciences…and my next door neighbor) and I walked 3 miles up to the bridge which connects Koror to Airai. Upon arrival, what we had interpreted as a good beach, we realized was a good picnic area. So, after crashing a kids birthday party and taking pictures, we turned around and walked 3 miles back. We only got offered a ride 3 times in 6 miles.

Ak morolung,


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