I promised to write about where we live.
Well, to start, we live in a house that isn’t really a house. It’s really a community building, called an “abai,” built several years ago for the Palauan community on Yap. There is one large room (maybe 25’ x 40’) where we have set up our cots. There is one kitchen area (fridge, two-burner hot plate, toaster oven) and one bathroom (one shower, two toilets). Oh, and there is the glorious back porch, from which we overlook the ocean. That’s it. Three rooms and a porch.
The abai is pretty palatial by local standards., but folks back home are usually more interested in what the house does NOT have. For example, it has no air conditioning or hot water. It has no internet (a source of frustration in these 24-7 wifi connected times). It occasionally has no electricity (until Yap’s diesel generators are turned back on). And, it has no privacy — a classic experiment in communal living.
For the experiment to work, we have to get along. It’s that simple. For that, we have house meetings every few nights to discuss how things are going. As you might expect, comments range from “Who has my sunscreen?” to “We need to do house chores tomorrow!” We have a budget for house supplies (fans, cleaning supplies, etc.) that must be managed, and schedules (“Who’s working tomorrow and who’s diving?”) to maintain.
And, with any trip to the tropics, there is the reality that people get tired and have hard days. These are discussed, too. If there is one great truth in the tropical 3rd world, it is that you cannot hide from the sun. The sun wears on you. If a hard day gets in your way, you take a day off from work. You relax and recover. So far, we have been fortunate to not have any injuries or illnesses. The worst so far is a mild heat rash. We have an extensive first aid kit, so are prepared.
But another way to describe where we live is by our location on Yap. We live in the village of Worwoo within the municipality of Rull. We are about a 5-minute walk from Colonia, the only thing resembling a town on Yap. Colonia has all of the islands restaurants, dive shops, and grocery stores, as well as all of the government buildings.
Our neighbors come from the atolls of Woleai, Satawal, Eurapik, and Ulithi. Their homes are made of 2x4s and corrugated sheet metal. Many have even fewer things than we do (no refrigerator, no indoor kitchen). As best they can, while on Yap, they work to maintain their traditional customs of dress, diet, and routine. Part of that has meant being extremely gracious hosts for us during our stay. They have brought us bananas, coconuts, and mangoes. We have shared clams (collected during one of our dive trips by a dive guide from Satawal), only to have them returned to us cooked in a coconut lime sauce, much to our gastronomic delight.
I will stop here because it is late and we are getting up early tomorrow to go mangrove kayaking in the village of Maa. I also need to tell you about our work projects, including a wonderful day spent at the Yap Catholic High School. There’s so much to describe!