January 1-5 2016, Darryl


The first morning of 2016 found us motoring out of Koror, we had
decided that if we were to be stuck in Palau it would be better to be
out in the islands rather than sitting in Koror. Bound as we were by
the complicated and expensive permit system of the country though we
were limited to the immediately surrounding area.  In the guide we
found a mention of a nearby bay with a snorkeling cave. Lars is a
great one for caves and this one went about 30m in before ending in a
chamber lit from above. I enjoy caves when I can walk or climb or even
crawl in them but something about swimming into a cave is distinctly
unnerving your vision is limited to the narrow beam of the light ahead
of you the narrow character of the caves often means that turning
around or backing up are long involved process and the mind dwells on
the snakes and other poisonous critters that are surely lurking just
to the side of your flashlights reach. For me anyways.

I am much better with heights really, something that I got to prove on
the way back from the cave when we discovered a rope swing out over
the water. I climbed up to the small platform lodged in a tree
overhanging the cliff face and looked warily over the edge. It only
took Lars calling me a wuss three times to get me to jump which speaks
either to my greater facility with heights over caves or my
susceptibility to peer pressure depending on your point of view.
Despite my efforts I could convince no one to try the high swing as
Jonathan and Charlotta contended themselves with a smaller one. This
was perhaps wise of them as over the course of three swings I acquired
enough sea water in my nose to clear out my sinuses for the rest of
2016.

Continuing our tour of the islands close to Koror we visited two other
caves, thankfully these were large enough to drive the dinghy into and
then get out and explore. Cathedral Cave in particular was spectacular
a highly arched ceiling with beams of light descending from the holes
in the roof did give something of the sense of a cathedral. The pile
of bird (or bat?) shit in the center of the chamber detracted from
this effect only slightly. Adjacent the cave was a channel with a
strong incoming current from the sea and we finally managed a proper
drift snorkel not by virtue of careful preparation and consultation of
tide tables but by virtue of just finding an appropriate current. Who
needs planning when you have luck? The snorkel was a pleasant one and
everyone saw a shark but me periodically someone would shoot off in
chase of one and I would turn and fight the current to follow only to
see, at best, the murky tail of one flitting off into the distance.

We spent the morning of the 3rd out doing more snorkeling and both
Jonathan and Charlotta went up the mast in the bosun's chair to take
some pictures from above as we made our way back into harbor. Back in
town the prospect of my tattoo bet rose up once more, not only did I
have only 2 days left in the bargain but over beers at Sam's that
night Leo from G-Force informed me that he had found a tattoo parlor
in town (one of my few remaining hopes were that there would turn out
to be no way to get a tattoo at all) and that the artist was quite
good. At least my turtle would be well drawn. I consoled myself about
this news with more beer and the greater part of a bottle of rum.

The next morning was something of a rough one for me and I determined
to nurse my hangover in the air conditioned confines of the internet
cafe something which Lars quickly informed me was cheating. He seemed
utterly unaffected by the rum w e consumed the night before. Life is
not fair.

Air conditioning having done for me what it could I headed back to the
boat I was quite cheered by meeting Jonathan and Charlotta as they had
just recieved their package, news which held the prospect of freeing
me from the turtle now snapping close on my heels. Indeed that evening
we determined that we would leave in two days time on the 6th.
Technically this was one day over my wager as we would then have been
stuck in Palau for 8 days but I can hardly be expected to arrange and
get a tattoo in a single day right?... Something tells me that the
rest of the crew might not be so willing to let the matter drop, I
think I'll avoid rum in the Philippines for fear of waking up with a
new shelled companion.
Darryl.

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