Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sight seeing in Yap

OK, I look like a cow and you can barely see the Manta,
but it's me and I saw it!  Andy went to get Jake so
pictures were at a minimum today...but Jake was on a high!
We finally got the chance to come up from grocery shopping and laundry and actually play tourist this week.  We rented a car and drove around the island for a few days and today, we dove with the giant manta rays!  I'll start with today and move backwards.

One of the dive resorts here (Manta Ray Hotel) has given us the local rate for diving and agreed to let Jake sit on the boat so Andy and I can both dive.  Today, they picked us up at our boat (that's service!) and then we rode through the mangroves at break-neck speed to our dive site.  There is a manta cleaning station in the channel and after a short swim, we were perched on the side of a reef ready for the show.  It took a while for them to show up, but once they did, it was incredible.  Due to the weather  recently, the visibility wasn't so great, but these things fly right over your head so close you could touch them....visibility didn't matter!  The mantas that live here range anywhere from 9 feet to 13 feet in size (wingspan).  If you've never seen one, it's almost like a ballet in the water.  They are simply amazing.  We saw one from our dinghy in the Tuamotos, but I've never been in the water and up close to one like today.

So, apparently, I wasn't the subject of today's photography (only an afterthought)
as you only see one shark behind me.  There were at least a dozen,
but I just got in the way of the flash....

I could go on and on, but I won't...I'll just check that one off my list of cool things to do in life!

In addition to the diving, there are other interesting things around here to see.  The main one being the stone money.  Yapese have used stone money for  centuries and according to the tourist brochure, it's found nowhere else in the world.  Here's what it says...

This is probably very disrespectful, but the hole seemed the
perfect size for Jake's head...made for a cute picture, I think :)
"The first stone money quarrying in the Palau Islands may have begun as far back as 125 A.D.  The sparkling rock is a form of crystalline calcite that is found primarily in the colorful glistening walls of limestone caverns.

Hundreds of voyages followed the initial trip to Palau.  Many men attempted the hazardous passage and more than a few perished in the process.  The 360 mile canoe journey took about five days one way if the weather was good and required skillful sailing.  The larger pieces of stone money that are now a familiar fixture in most Yapese villages was an arduous task to make and return to Yap, increasing its value greatly."

Kind of interesting, huh?  Anyway, it's still around and used in some villages today.  It's not exchanged anymore, but sits in "banks" (the side of the roads in the villages) called Rai.  We snapped a few pictures as we drove along.

There were also a few Japanese zeros left over from WWII....and a Continental flight gone bad....
It took a while, but we finally found it... a japanese zero.
Jake was ecstatic.  He loves this stuff.

U.S. Hellcat...apparently, it was hit by enemy fire, then
collided with another US aircraft in the bay.
There's a memorial set up for the young pilot.

Continental gone bad....

In between our touring, a miracle has happened aboard Savannah.  Jake has shown an interest in sports.  I know...Dad, Cary....hold onto your hats and don't get your hopes up too high, but yes, my son has asked to "go play some sports."  We took the soccer ball (there goes Cary's hopes...), a baseball glove and some balls, a frisbee, pads to practice his Tae Kwon Do, and his new bike to shore a few days this week.  He says he isn't yet ready to focus on one thing, you see, so we try to cover the basics that you guys at home may laugh at...  Remember, we don't get TV so he isn't showered with college games all weekend long like he might be at home.  Let's take the rules to kickball for example, a favorite of every elementary school age child in's kind of difficult to play a full game with only three people.  Do you know how hard it is to explain to a six year old what "man on first" means when you need to come back in and kick?  Or why he can't move the bases into a rectangle instead of a diamond?   Or, when Andy rolled him a "ground ball" with the baseball and instead of throwing it back, he rolled it "practice" his ground balls.  We already covered basketball back in Lukenor when he was playing with the local kids and tried to kick it to them.

My family is either laughing hysterically right now, or they're crying...  It may sound like I'm making fun of my child and well, I guess I am.  At his age, I was twirling the baton (pretty well, might I add), cheerleading, running track and tap dancing.  My brother was playing baseball, basketball and football.  We were coordinated kids.  I can't help but laugh when I watch Jake as he is not very coordinated at all...he'll get it, I know.  He's already improved immensely and me not really being a sports freak myself, I really have no concern (or even care if he ever improves).  But I know others do and I thought I would give an update.  Good news is Andy says he was a late bloomer and he is a very coordinated adult....there's hope.  But not too much hope for team sports...aside from Jake growing up on a boat (which limits your options), his dad is a solo kind of dude...Tae Kwon Do (blackbelt though...see he is coordinated), sky diving, kayaking, scuba get the picture.

Now we're getting ready to go have some cocktails on a new cruising boat that pulled in will be nice to have some folks to hang out with after going such a long stretch without other cruisers.  We still have a few weeks here as we're waiting on our bottom paint and then we're going to attempt to pull Savannah out and give her a fresh look.  Cross your fingers.

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