Last week the people of Palau elected a new president. The new president is Koror Lawyer Johnson Toribiong. I must say that I spent several evenings discussing politics and local laws with Palau’s new president. Johnson is mentioned in the acknowledgements section of Papa Mike’s Palau Islands Handbook, and at the time I thought the good lawyer would make a great future president of Palau. So congrat’s Mr. President, I expect to hear of my ambassador appointment at any time. Seriously, Johnson is a wise man and I look forward to continued prosperity for the Republic of Palau.
Well, I have returned from my last two outer island trips. Had a great trip to both of the above islands. New friends and lots of information for the book. Will be back to American civilization and freeway traffic in another eight days. How do they say? Time flies, it certainly has for me. Went to a great Island Night Buffet last night at Crown Beach Resort, the dancing, especially the under seven year old, “little darlings” was amazing. No matter how many shows I go to it never dissapoints. John, I managed to stay off the dance floor this time. The crash I didn’t have on the dance floor occured on my scooter on the way home. Missed the driveway and attempted a turn around in the Pacific Resorts driveway. I have to be the only person to fall off a scooter and not receive a single cut. The rental scooter people were impressed with my falling down skills. No way was I sticking that arm out this time, I have enough pins and screws on my left arm. So today I am working on switching from two wheels to four. Will write more later, lots of rain this morning, but clearing now.
It is time to move on from Atiu over to Aitutaki today. Had a great time with the folks at Atiu Villas, Roger, Kura amd the whole staff. Einstein wanted me to say hello to all his friends out in cyberspace. The new pool is beautiful and as always the people of Atiu are wonderful. Enjoyed a great historical tour with Papa Paiere all around the villages and island. Last night we had our own island night performance by a local group, as you can see from the pictures, a good time was had by all.
You will note that my partner knows to look at the camera, I am way to busy signaling the boats at sea or something. Our host grabbed my camera and recorded the event
So this afternoon I will be off to Aitutaki. Metaki Atiu.
Not much to report today will be working on a couple of stories over the next few days. Trying to figure out how to load photos to make this all more fun for everybody. Hope the ship makes the blog. It’s taken me an hour to screw around with this picture, hopefuly I have learned and future posts will not be this painful.
It didn’t matter that I arrived five hours early for my flight, when I reached the front of the line at the Air New Zealand counter I was dead in the water. Never mind that the ticket agent’s first question was about the book I was reading, I explained about the James W. Hall novel, quickly and skillfully segueing into the fact that I was indeed a writer on assignment to the tropical splendor of Rarotonga. Ernest frigging Hemingway himself would not have gotten an exit aisle seat from the middle aged, matronly agent scanning the available seats and shaking her head across the counter from Papa Mike. I took the aisle seat near the tiny toilet in the back of the plane, while miss agents chuckle could still be heard at my suggestion of an upgrade.
So began the eleven and a half hour non-stop flight, to tropical paradise for a writer that suddenly wished he were five foot six and a couple hundred pounds lighter. Naturally, I couldn’t sleep and my overhead light did not work, so I spent the major portion of my time convincing myself that my legs and knees really didn’t hurt as bad as I thought they did. Finally after approximately the amount of time needed to register a 1964 Edsel at California DMV, we touched down at Rarotonga International Airport, I nearly kissed the flight attendant when the pilot announced that we could exit from the rear of the plane as well as the front, a difference of thirty rows and at least ten minutes in time.
I slid to the left to the “returning islander” line at immigration and quickly picked up my cooler, all thoughts of a record breaking customs departure evaporated as I waited for my suitcase which naturally was one of the last bags on the conveyor. The agent seemed a bit puzzled with the half a cow I had frozen in my cooler, insisting that I open it, while he confirmed that it was frozen solid. He asked if it was for my consumption and I quickly announced that it was for friends on the island, a lucky guess, as this seemed to please him and he re-taped my cooler and sent me on my way.
At this point I was somewhat giddy, unlimited legroom will do that to you. Out the terminal exit into the hands of the transfer agents, where a rather large female agent asked, “How are you doing,” I think she could recognize a Yank from fifty paces. I snapped back, “Whatever happened to Kia Orana?” She clearly enjoyed my comeback and we exchanged knowing smiles.
Just as I was scanning the faces for Tina, she appeared in front of me all smiles and hugs, lassoing me with a bright flower leu. I couldn’t help but smugly turn around to the assembled transfer agents and tourists, it was just a polite curtsy, but I think it was effective. Folks this was the way to arrive in paradise.
It was a good thing the parking lot was dark, Tina’s car was so small I banged my head repeatedly trying to get in, making me long for the legroom on the plane, I was glad the assembled masses did not see me crawling into the car, it would have detracted from my grand entrance.
It started around 11:00 AM; I was resting from my fast paced morning of shower and breakfast and decided it was a good time to rest up, maybe have a little nap, that’s when the sky began to fall. Now I am used to tropical storms, rain like hell for ten minutes and then pass on by. In a half hour you can’t even tell it rained earlier. This storm was different; I first perked up when I heard the thunder. I ventured out on to my covered porch just as a bolt of lightning flashed. The sky was low and a very dark gray, the wind had kicked up and large yellow leaves floated out of the breadfruit tree across the gravel drive. A milky stream was flowing onto the garden lawn and the corrugated tin roof of the shell shop was fast becoming a hundred steady waterfalls. More lightening with less and less time between the claps of thunder. My neighbors, the two mynah birds who adopted me upon arrival, gave me worried looks from the mango tree in front of my bungalow, or at least they looked like worried looks. Fred and Ethel were looking to me for direction. When I arrived back on the deck with a beer in my hand, they gave up and flew away. Next door the Roosters ventured forth in the downpour, their genetic DNA told them that this flood would bring up the worms in the lawn and they didn’t give a damn about the downpour, besides they shed water, well, like a duck. I moved my chair, the wind was shifting, and then with no fanfare, the sky parted and the sun came out.
But for a good hour it had run amok, I sat on the porch with my beer. What would the Maori’s have thought of this occurrence four hundred years ago? Message from the God’s? Would they really understand thunder and lightning?
I took another sip of beer and thought to myself; it will take a while to win back the respect of Fred and Ethel. Then I remembered that a crust of bread would return me to my throne, King of the island.
The benevolent king left stage right, in search of another beer.
Sunday February 17, 2008
Well, that was easy. I just erased what I wrote yesterday under this date heading as pure rubbish. Nobody gives a damn about what I ate or how much writing I got done in the book. If I can’t come up with something better than that, I shall just not write. You readers deserve something with more substance, perhaps a beheading or political coup of some sort. Well the truth is it has been raining so hard even the politicians have been taking cover, and it’s to wet to go out and find out if anyone has been beheaded.
I did hear an interesting story told by landlady Tina’s stepfather Terry Saturday night when, we coerced him into bringing over his sharpest knife to carve steaks off the cow in the cooler. Terry is one of the islands more interesting storytellers, having arrived from New Zealand back in the fifties. He has run the tiny shell shop here on Muri Beach for nearly forty years. As Terry tells it, he used to be young and foolish, but he is no longer young. At seventy-two he is still wielding a sharp knife and a sharp tongue. The former Cook Islands school administrator, knowing I was a Yank, sat down on the covered patio and proceeded to tell the tale of America’s atomic testing up on Christmas Island. It seems that our military was going to test it’s latest bomb out there in the middle of the Pacific, where few people live. Having devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the previous decade they had a new bomb to test. The problem was they weren’t quite sure how big the resulting bang was going to be. They were wise enough not to detonate the thing off Catalina. After what I’m sure was careful deliberation (not anywhere near the United States) they chose Christmas Island. America announced its intent to help secure peace by testing the mother of all bombs. Just to silence their critics and insure safety, they determined that the test required evacuation of all islanders within a four hundred mile radius of the blast.
It so happens that the Island of Penrhyn, the northernmost of the Cook Islands was about 370 miles from ground zero, with far too many people to displace for the test. The politicians huddled and low and behold a pie shaped piece was sliced from the four hundred mile zone. What the hell, maybe the wind will be blowing the other way on the day of the test. The blast fried a goodly portion of the South Pacific, parts of which are still glowing. The island of Penrhyn noted a substantial rise in the incidence of stillbirths and years later, the incidence of cancer amongst its population. It must be said that we also left behind some perfectly good Quonset huts and a very long coral runway. Another example of your tax dollars at work, the testing of the Atomic bomb was considered a huge success, at least in our portion of the Pacific.
Well it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Next week I will be leaving for six weeks in the Cook Islands. It is time to update Papa Mike’s Cook Islands Handbook, so for six weeks I will be posting about my travels in the Cook Islands. This will allow me to keep in touch with all of you, while traveling in the South Pacific. So I hope you will follow my adventure, rest assured that upon my return stateside I will update information on Palau.
Time to hang those brightly colored lights from the old palm tree and send away for some missletoe. Merry Christmas to all my readers worldwide and a happy and prosperous New Year in 2008. Look for a second edition of Papa Mike’s Cook Islands Handbook in the summer and a second edition of my Caribbean Guidebook by Christmas next year.
Save up those frequent flyer miles and head out to your favorite island location in January to warm up. Just make sure you take along a good guidebook.
Interested in naming my new guidebook, receiving acknowlegement in the book and a priceless autographed copy? Just visit my author’s blog over at Amazon.com and add your title idea to the customer’s comment section for your chance at immortality and a free book.
My last post contained a link to Cebu Air, which I found out is no longer flying to Palau, airline changes are rampant out there. Continental’s Air Micronesia is still the dominant player with daily flights from Guam and flights from Manila and Yap. Air Micronesia flights originate out of Hawaii for US visitors or those flying west from Europe. Asian Spirit Airlines has three flights a week connecting from Davao, Philippines. Charters are available from Japan Airlines, Asiana Airlines and Far Eastern Air Transport. Contact the airlines websites for availability and pricing, the water is clear, the weather is sunny and it’s time to visit this unique location. You won’t forget to take along a great guidebook, will you?
This mystery fare is available from US based travel agents only and can save money for US based traveller’s who plan on traveling beyond Palau to other Micromesian destinations. Check Continentals route map as the fare allows you to visit up to four destinations. Fares are based on your turn around point and are in the $1400 to $1700 range. You must travel on Air Micronesia beginning in Los Angeles or San Francisco and arriving in Guam through Hawaii. Don’t bother to contact Continental direct or try to find the fare on their website, you must use a travel agent. Those of you with helpful hints or travel agents with knowledge of this fare are encouraged to post to the cooments section on this blog post.
The update is the special Circle Micronesia fare is no longer available from Continental. There may be cheap fares available at Cebu Pacific Air, check their website at http://cebupacificair.com/promos/index.html The picture at the top of this blog is not of Palau, it is one of several options offered at the blog hosts site, the most appropriate for the site. Sorry if I misled anyone.
Hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful summer and planning a trip to Palau or some other island paradise for the fall or winter. Some of you may not be aware that Papa Mike is also the author of THE WEST INDIES ON $50.00 A Day as well as PAPA MIKE’S COOK ISLAND HANDBOOK. Both of these books as well as PAPA MIKE’S PALAU ISLANDS HANDBOOK are available at almost all online bookstores worldwide. Look for updates in 2007 for both the Caribbean and Cook Island books. I am afraid the West Indies on $50.00 a day may need a name change as rates have risen since the first publication. Both books will feature tons of information on out of the way spots and lodgings in all price groups.
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