Saturday, April 27, 2013

Little League in Palau

Everyone is always asking questions about Jake and his interests (blowing things up, dinosaurs, legos, blowing up dinosaurs and legos) and does he like the boat(yes) and does he know how to ride a bike (sort of), and the big one that I always dread (no, not do we homeschool him), does he play any sports?  Why do I dread that?  Well, because no, he doesn’t and quite frankly, it doesn’t bother me a bit.  So please don’t mistake this post as a hidden insecurity, it’s meant to be strictly informational and slightly entertaining.  He’s an excellent swimmer, snorkeler, and he even has some bottom time.  I can go on and on about his accomplishments, but to the sports fanatic, it seems like he’ll never survive.  How will he learn to work in a team environment?  There are many other types of teams…one he learns from a lot is us…it takes a lot of team work to run this thing we call home.  How will he learn self discipline?  Let me see, his father and I saved for 10 years, planned and actually executed said plan to quit our jobs/retire and sail around the world (and we weren’t even 40).  I think we know a thing or two about discipline.  I don’t blame them or get mad at them…what we’re doing is just so foreign to them that they can’t fathom how he could have a normal life without America’s favorite pastime.  I get it.

To all those people…you’ll like this…Jake has started T-Ball.  And wait…hold your breath….he’s enrolled in Judo, too.  Why, you ask?  Why not?  I never said I was against it.  It’s just not usually something that we have an opportunity to do. 

 So for the past two weeks, every Sunday morning, Jake gets his glove and we walk about a mile to the community baseball field where he’s learning the basics of baseball.  For all you parents who have kids that play or have played T-ball, I’m sure you can relate when I tell you that this is the most humorous part of my day.  The first time he hit the ball, he made it to third base!  Of course he skipped first and second, but hey, he’s just practicing his knowledge that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  They put him in the outfield and after about 10 minutes, he decided to sit down.  He must have been pretty tired from our walk because not long after that I saw him lying down with his feet up in the air.  The second week went much better (a few discussions were had about the “nap” time) and he actually started to blend in a bit.  One little kid passed another one on  the bases and they both made it "home" at the same time.  Apparently, they’re getting uniforms in a few weeks, although I have no idea who they’re going to play.  Maybe the other states here have teams too?  That’s going to be a long walk…

 On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, we walk the same route up to the community gym where he’s learning Judo from one of the Palauan Olympic athletes.  The first week was awkward because he didn’t have his Gi (uniform) yet, so he stuck out like a sore thumb and I noticed everything he could or couldn’t do (I was a very coordinated child so his late blooming in that area baffles me).  Last week he got his Gi and sure enough, he blended in and demonstrated to his mother that yes, all little people are goofy.  I can already tell a difference in his mouth (he has a big one…wonder where he gets that from) and patience level…the old school sensei helped with that.  A little slap in the back of the head never hurt anyone, right?

The cool thing is, he loves it.  And, he loves to learn.  You can tell he’s concentrating really hard when they try to teach him something.  Something he doesn’t necessarily do when learning from his parents.  So, go ahead and ask me….does Jake play any sports?  Yes, why yes he does.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Elusive Mandarin Fish

Palau is known for its mandarin fish, these tiny little colorful things that like to hand out in the rocks and shun the sunlight.  We've looked for them since we got here and have seen a few but inevitably Andy either doesn't have his camera or they run and hide.  Until yesterday.  Here are a few of the pictures Andy took on the rock behind our boat and at Sam's dock.  Enjoy!


Jellyfish and buddies

Crocodile Fish

Hermit Crab


Gobie kicking the nudibranch out of his yard

Gobie and shrimp



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nikko Bay

We were getting tired of the same old scenery on our mooring ball, so we decided to move the boat over to a little place called Nikko Bay.  It’s still right here in Koror, but it feels like you’re in the Rock Islands…for free! 

We stocked up so we wouldn’t have to go into town (although it’s just a dinghy ride away) and we stayed tucked back in a little hole for the last 6 days.  There’s a world of things to do back there.  This is a big area for WWII stuff…there’s a channel called Pill Box Channel that has, well, duh, pill boxes guarding either side (pill boxes for anyone who doesn’t know, are concrete fighting positions used by the Japanese).  We climbed up there and took a little peak into the pill boxes. They’re so tiny and dark, they kind of freak me out a bit.  Just imagine those guys sitting up there waiting for something to happen.  Also on the WWII front, we hiked up a little trail to an old Japanese camp.  We found some old bombs, fuel barrels, pottery, batteries, etc.

Our next major discovery were the caves.  Palau is covered with caves.  But they're not the big huge ones with lakes in the middle and tour guides.  They range anywhere from tiny little holes to big enough to walk around in easily.  There were a few we knew about and then one Andy discovered while paddling our new SUP.   I’m not a huge fan of caves so Andy and Jake went to check it out.  It turns out it’s a large cave with several small caves in it.  Jake said I just had to see it.  So I went.  Now, I’m not a chicken.  I try new things.  I go out of my comfort zone.  But I hate caves.  I went anyway and while I did climb around in the main cave, much to the disappointment of my son, I declined to crawl down into a deep hole with one flashlight between us to see the giant mutant crickets.  The day was a bust in his mind.

While I wasn’t able to keep up with my running, I did manage to make a routine out of my morning paddle.   Andy got into it a bit, too.  We may see a second paddle board in our future.  Jake even took a turn and I have to say, he’s not bad at it.  He envisions being able to paddle to his friend Charlie’s boat the next time they come to Palau.

We have a relaxed dress code on Savannah :)

When we weren’t exploring, we were just lazy and enjoyed our “break” from the hustle and bustle of the anchorage.  There are a few tour boats back there, but not nearly as many as the Rock Islands.  You don’t see many sailboats back there either  as it’s kind of a pain to get to.  You have to wait for high tide to go through a little man made cut in the islands and most anchorages are either really deep or have really shallow reefs to cross.  We’re back now – we ran out of waffles and juice – but I for see many more trips to our newly found “vacation” spot.

Easter in Palau

The Easter bunny brought kids!   Jake got almost a full week of just play, play, and more play.  There is a family from Guam that has a boat here and they come once a month to work on it, getting it ready to sail.  They have a 6 year old boy and a 9 year old girl.  We finally met them on their trip this time around and Jake and Charlie pretty much spent every day together.  They were here over Easter, so we had an egg hunt up at the Yacht Club/Sam’s Tours.  The kids ran around with so much energy as if they’d already eaten that candy, trying to find the eggs.  Jake is a trip to watch…he couldn’t find his own head if it wasn’t attached.  He gets so excited and runs around looking left and right, up and down and never actually sees anything.  But he did manage to find a few eggs (with a little help) and one of them even had a dollar in it (He’s saving up for his very own iPad…he says he only needs $700, so every little bit helps).  They did a second hunt and Charlie’s dad hid one of them in the water.  Jake came running to Andy and said, “Daddy?  Can I jump in and get it?”  Andy said, “Sure”  and off he went.  He never missed a beat…ran right down the dock and into the water to get that egg.

Throughout the week the boys spent time swimming, “pulling” (they lay on the paddle board and hold onto a ski rope while we pull them with the dinghy), playing on each others boats and then we topped it off with a huge play date with both Charlie and Carla as well as Selma (6) and Magnus (3) from another boat, Hero.  If anyone knows me, they know I’m not exactly the kind of mom who usually invites 4 kids over to play…but these kids are really sweet and well behaved and they all played well together, despite the age differences.  The boys played Hero Factory while the girls decided to set up shop and “sell” the parts to the boys so they could make their creatures.  This is a typical scenario for boat kids.  They meet, get to know each other in about 8 seconds, then play as hard as they can because they don’t know when they’ll get to do it again.  Unfortunately, Charlie and Carla were headed to the Rock Islands, we were headed to Nikko Bay, and Selma and Magnus were leaving Palau for adventures elsewhere.  The good news is, Charlie and Carla will be back next month (and the next, and the next), so there will be many more play dates in the future!