Sunday May 15 — Just a quick update here. As of today ten of the 13 students are officially scuba certified! Yeah!! Kat, Kelsey, Sara Beth, Alex, Jesse, Matt, Taylor, and Amy have completed all of the dives and coursework. Emily, Ray, and Megan just have a few dives to go, then they will be certified, too. Yesterday, the divers went out to Miil Channel hoping to see some manta rays. These are impressive (but completely harmless) creatures with wingspans of up to 14 feet. Alas, we did not see any mantas, but we did see lots of great sealife, including a pufferfish, sea turtle, mantis shrimp, and plenty of grey cartilaginous fish near the reef. Besides diving, we went kayaking through the mangrove forest that fringes 80% of Yap. Kayaking the mangroves really connected with our classwork back on campus where we learned the different species of mangrove trees, as well as the very cool adaptations they have developed to survive in their crazy fresh+saltwater, ocean+land, high+low tide environment (for example: stilt roots, salt water extrusion through their leaves, and seeds that begin growing before they even leave the trees).
As for today … well, Yap is currently the center of a tropical low pressure cell, so it has been wonderfully drizzly and overcast the entire day. In the hot tropics, you learn to cherish clouds and gentle rain. It’s the kind of day that calls for sitting on the back patio watching seabirds glide and squawk in the sky. We did manage to clean the house and do laundry at the Laundromat, but mostly, today has been a back porch day. This evening, we have special guests coming over. Three current or former Peace Corps Volunteers, the aforementioned Mr. Will Massey (see Lagoon Letter 1), and Vanessa Fread (a local Yapese woman, see Lagoon Letter 1) will be dropping by to share their thoughts about living on Yap, adapting to Yap, and suggestions for how to better understand Yapese culture. This should be an invaluable experience for all of us.
We start work tomorrow, and that will be an eye-opening day for all of us!