Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kefel Yap.

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” – C.S. Lewis

By: Miranda

We have been putting off writing this post for many months now, not quite sure how to put it down into words or even where to begin. Now that so much time has passed it has become even more difficult, but it still feels necessary, for closure if nothing else, so here we go.

On April 8, 2012 we boarded a plane and left Yap for good. The full moon was high in the sky and the reef was illuminated with a bluish glow in its light, allowing a tiny glimpse of the island from the air, something we had never seen before. As I looked out the window watching our island disappear it was a strange feeling of relief paired with the fear of what lies ahead. As our island faded into the darkness, not sure if we will ever see it again, for me there was a real sense of bitter-sweetness.

Ultimately, leaving was a very difficult decision, with many factors playing a part. The main reason being a very serious family health emergency. We knew immediately that the right thing to do was to be stateside, closer to family who needed, and continue to need us. Leaving so quickly still felt strange. One of our greatest fears during our adventure on Yap was that something would happen to a family member and we would not be there to be of support, or heaven forbid, say good-bye. The situation arose quickly with an unexpected diagnosis of a family member. Luckily, Mike’s employer was completely understanding and allowed us to leave in only two weeks.

Packing and moving all took place in a matter of days, and really it is a vague blur of mixed emotions. It felt so weird, since getting to the island was such an involved process that began our journey. We had a few months to get used to the idea of moving to a tiny island in the Western Pacific. It took two plus years to make our house really feel like a home (which we were so proud of), and within days everything was boxed up, sold, thrown out, or given away.

We held a “yard sale” that took place in the living room of our house, for fear of rain and lack of places to display items. When we moved to Yap we brought or shipped only things that we knew we would be okay with selling or leaving behind when we left. We got cheap plates and bowls at Wal-mart, shipped our older pots and pans, and packed the rest of our beloved worldly possessions into a storage unit.

Yard sales are exciting occurrences on Yap as it is the only opportunity to get items not sold in the stores for cheap. Once people heard we were leaving the second question they asked was if we were having a sale, the first question of course being why we were leaving. I laid out everything we decided not to take back with us. We opened up shop and slowly watched our belongings distributed to new owners. By the end of the day all that was left were a few clothing items and the most random stuff and a few books. I donated the books to the state library and the clothing and other items to the Women’s Association to be sold for fund raising for the Yap Girl Scout program.

The curtains I sewed by hand one-by-one until there were twelve in all, our handi-craft collection that Mike added to with each trip to neighboring islands, our souvenirs from our trip to Asia last year, and our trusty machete were all carefully boxed up into USPS flat-rate boxes and mailed off, hoping to be reunited with us in the States. Luckily all of our boxes made it to their destination, with only one falling apart, Still, no items were lost!

Before returning to the US we spent a few days in Japan to lick our wounds and regroup before heading off to a very emotional situation of a serious health scare of a family member. We enjoyed hot water, fast internet, reliable television, and a very comfortable bed. We used the time to adjust to being back in “civilization” and to reflect. Now, months later, it is all a blur full of jet lag, confusion, and relief.

The last month on Yap was by far the most difficult for us. We rode an emotional roller coaster that no longer felt worth the benefits of living on a beautiful tropical island. I quit my job out of frustration and pure exhaustion. I got news that my grandmother passed away. The most horrible of it all, was the murder of our beloved dog Peanut. We can say with near certainty that he was poisoned. We addressed some aspects of this horrible experience in another post, so I will not rehash it. And even after what is quickly approaching a year since we lost our boy, it still enrages and deeply saddens us. We still miss that dog like crazy. He was our first “child”, and was by far the best dog either of us had ever had. Even after all of these horrible things, came the news of the illness of a very close family member, one we were not willing to risk losing while living on the island. We learned many things while living on Yap, but one thing we learned from it, as well as from ABC’s tv show LOST, is that when the island speaks, you listen. We felt it was telling us to go, so we did.

So off we went, back into the “real world” quickly, but without hesitation.

The first few months, and even now, were a huge adjustment. We didn’t know what we should expect, but some of the things that happened we certainly didn’t see coming. It was incredibly overwhelming to return to something that for our whole lives was normal, but all of the sudden felt foreign. Big cities were scary, shopping was overwhelming, and people act so differently than we were used to experiencing. If you haven’t been to, or lived on Yap, you just can’t understand the experience. Many people, even those who we thought would be the most understanding and accommodating were not. This was one of the most difficult things for me. We returned to people and things that haven’t changed for the better like we have. This magnified just how much we have changed and grown through our Yap experience. I want to make it clear that we don’t think we are better than anyone, we are just different than when we left. It is a shame that not everyone can appreciate our experience and be accepting of values that were always present, but are now much more prominent in our lives. Family first, take care of your own, and don’t take anything for granted. It’s funny how quickly people can adapt to their surroundings, whatever they may be. The materialism and priorities of people in the States now shock us.

Even now, 8 months later, resettled in new jobs and a new routine, we still hold onto things we learned while living on Yap. We no longer duck between people and say “sirrow” (excuse me), though we notice every time that we don’t do it. It feels like we are breaking some rule. We no longer take for granted modern conveniences - hot water, stores having everything you want and need, reliable roads with well marked street signs, being closer to loved ones, and being connected to the world-at-large.

If we could rewind time and do it all again, I think we would. We both grew exponentially during our time on Yap. For myself I became much more flexible, I also am more aware of the beauty this world provides. I work hard to find it everyday. On Yap it involved tropical flowers, the glowing sun sinking into the Pacific Ocean, and ample amounts of time to enjoy every minute of the endless summer weather. Back in the States it involves sinking suns over evergreen trees, steaming bathwater, and (honestly) Arby’s.

This adventure didn’t end how or when we had planned, but I think it says something about how much we have changed that we were strong enough to do what was right for us even knowing others would be disappointed. We still frequently talk about life on Yap, what we miss and what we don’t. We look at pictures and speak of memories. We miss the good friends we made there, knowing we will likely never again experience the bond expats have when they band together as a family to support and love each other during a difficult, but often magical experience. They are our brothers and sisters now, spread all over the globe.

It saddens us to end this blog, to close this chapter of our lives. We hope it is not our last adventure and that the lessons we learned along the way will guide us to the next chapter. Thank you for reading dear family and friends.  Your support and love made it possible for us to take the leap of faith that landed us on Yap’s shores. We have also gotten many emails and messages from strangers interested in Yap, something we didn’t consider when we decided to document our journey to the other side of the world. You can find us on Facebook under “Michael Nigrey” and “Miranda Nigrey” (we’re the only ones in the world). We hope you learned something about Yap and about us, we sure did.

Kefel Yap, you will always be in our hearts and who knows, maybe one day we will stand on your beautiful sandy beaches again feeling the warmth of the equatorial sun on our faces, but not Miranda’s thighs.

One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, there must be no regrets, no tears, no anxieties. Just go forward in all your beliefs and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine.” – Doctor Who

 

To finish off this blog here are some pictures that never really fit in before but show our life on Yap.

bruce's bday

DSCN2580DSCN2529

DSCN2515DSCN2541

DSCN2523DSCN1742DSCN2616DSCN2597DSCN2636DSCN2698

DSCN1522DSCN1646DSCN1534DSCN1728DSCN2583DSCN1701taylor and I at tmartDSCN1468

Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Discover Wildlife: Be A Teacher!

Nine-tenths of education is encouragement.
-Anatole France

This year I taught ninth grade English at Yap High School. It has proven to be very different than teaching tenth grade. The change to teaching ninth grade came this last summer when a fellow teacher and friend of mine asked if he could teach tenth grade this year, allowing him to follow his then ninth graders to the next grade. I saw no problem with this. My friend is a trained teacher, and I was sure he could tackle tenth grade a little more gracefully than I.

The change in grades also came with a perk for me: a much nicer classroom. My new classroom (number 12) is just up a small hill from my previous room. Being perched on top of this slope allows access to the very desirable breeze. This provides a much cooler room. It’s amazing how muchDSCN2308 being hot and uncomfortable affects both learning and teaching. I rarely had to battle with the afternoon classes about it being too hot to do anything other than put their heads on their desks or sprawl out on the tile floor and to rest. I was able to focus easily and was also able to venture away from my beloved fan for longer stretches, and help students individually instead of summoning them to my desk so that I could be cooler and have clearer thoughts.

Room 12 has linoleum tile floors in a lovely shade of dark green and has 30 matching desks with attached chairs, the same style I sat in during myDSCN2489 own high school years. The year began with clean white walls and desks that were, and are still shockingly, graffiti free. I had a bulletin board in the back of the room and two cabinets where the textbooks and other supplies were housed. At the beginning of the year one of these cabinets was able to be locked, but somehow a student managed to break the locking mechanism sometime during second quarter. I am sure they were disappointed when they got it open and found grammar work books, a stack of large white paper, and all the books that came with the room that I had chosen not to use. I had larger white boards that came in handy numerous times while lecturing.

Not only was the classroom different, DSCN2325but man-o-man, were the kids different. It is amazing what a difference a year makes in maturity and knowledge! I remember saying the first week of school, “They are so tiny!” There was also a lot more drama, being that this was their first year in high school. Just as in the States, there are many middle schools that feed students into the high school. Coming to the high school is the first time many of these kids have met, and this often causes conflict. There seems to be more crying, more fights, more turf wars, more rebellion, and more hormones!

The average age of the students was 14-15, but I did have a few older “retained” students who are trying ninth grade for the second, third, and even fourth time. Being the only public high school on Yap, if a student registers they have to enroll them. This includes students who year after year cannot or will not follow the rules and are expelled for a variety of reasons - the most common being fighting, general misbehavior,drugs and alcohol violations, and attendance issues. On Yap students are only required (by law) to DSCN2448attend school until they are 15, so I don’t always understand why these students who clearly don’t want to be at school keep coming back every year, only to be expelled for their actions. It becomes difficult as the age gap between the student and teachers is decreased at the same time that their attitude and desire for learning decreases. These students tried my patience daily, and I was glad when most of them were finally gone for the year, only to likely return again next year where this dance will continue.

This increase in drama has allowed me to stretch my counseling muscles here and there. At the beginning of the year I informed all my students that I was a mental health counselor in the States, and that if they ever need someone to talk to, I was there for them. I worked hard to cultivate meaningful relationships with as many students as possible. I gained their trust, and treated them well. It is amazing how they responded positively to this. It is not usual to express feelings in Yapese culture, especially to an outsider. But this year there were many kids that just needed someone to talk to about “stuff”! I had pep-talks with many who needed a little extra encouragement. I listened to break-up stories, and guided them towards academics and away from bad influences. I held them accountable for their actions. Because of this I felt much more connected to my students this year. I just cared more. This made me a better teacher.

This year I implemented a daily journal in my class. As a warm-up each day the students came to my class and grabbed their journal and responded for ten minutes (if I was lucky) to the topic I provided on the board. These topics ranged from fun to serious. I asked them what super power they would choose, but also the saddest moment in their lives. Occasionally I would use a topic just because I was curious what their answer would be. I ask questions like “who works harder boys or girls”. I also was given a great journal prompt from the same teacher friend that switched classes with me. It basically said, “If a visitor came to Yap and straight from the airport came to Yap High School, and then returned to the airport and left the island, what would they think about Yap?” 423354_3012916679493_1159817293_32374844_835852789_nThe answers to this questions provided some interesting discussions in my classes about the way students carry themselves and the way they treat the school grounds and how this reflects on Yap. Because I wanted them to be honest in their journals, they always had the choice to write at the top of the entry “Do not read”. I did respect this, allowing them to be true to themselves and their feelings. I gave my students a safe place to appropriately express and explore themselves. This too allowed me to feel more connected with them, I knew so much more about my students after reading their journals. I understood where they came from and where they are now. This proved to be invaluable when lesson planning. I knew their interests and I knew which way to approach lessons to ensure the best reception.

Another expat teacher friend of mine hit it on the head when he said “Teaching is fifty percent prison guard and fifty percent stand-up comedy.” DSCN1947Everyday it was a challenge to engage my students in the lesson, and to get them to do what I asked, even if it was to stop talking while I was, one of my biggest problems. I was very animated when I was talking to the class, trying with all my might to make the topic interesting and relatable. It was difficult to keep their attention when there are so many other things they would rather be doing other than listening to me talk about the history of poetry, the writing process, or vocabulary. But I did my best, with what I had.

One exciting thing about school starting in August here is that for the first time ever in my life I had school on my birthday this year. The bad news- it was my thirtieth birthday, and it was the very first day of school! A few of my students from last year amazingly remembered my birthday and brought me nuwnuws. I did not tell my new students it was my birthday. I didn’t want to make the first day of school about me, or make them feel bad for not knowing and not bringing me a nuwnuw.

Everyday my students made me laugh and cringe.  I regularly heard from many of them that my class was their favorite. I believed them. I taught them something everyday. I treated them with respect and kindness. I pushed them to stretch their creativity. I nurtured them. Not every teacher does this, not just here, but anywhere.

Of course there are the rough patches. DSCN2368On two occasions this year I had to have the counselor and vice principal come talk with one of my classes about respecting me. At one point, this one class was so out of control that I stormed out of the class ten minutes early. I didn’t always get the respect I feel I deserve, and have earned. I am still an outsider woman after all. They are still teenagers after all. They push, and sometimes it is too hard.

Teaching in high school is like reliving it for yourself. Every insecurity you had then comes raging back to haunt you. I saw myself in so many of these kids. I saw my friends, and my adversaries. I tried to have an open mind and sort out my “stuff” from their “stuff”. Needless to say we have all grown a little since August.

But one day in March they pushed too hard. I had been really struggling with my classes and keeping all of us, including myself, motivated until the end of the school year in May. It was a regular Tuesday, the week after Yap Day Break, similar to Spring Break in the States. The kids weren’t listening, they weren’t there to learn and I left that day feeling completely wiped out. During the previous week I had done some real soul searching about what exactly I was trying to accomplish while working at the high school. I wanted to teach them. I wanted to help them grow. But after a few too many days of feeling they wanted none of this from me, I had to ask myself what I was still doing there.

Honestly, I could barely answer the question, other than sticking it out for the handful of kids that were still trying their best.  I was coming home from work everyday angry and exhausted. I was making only a few dollars an hour and working well past the forty hours a week I was paid. For what? To be disrespected and ignored by most of my students. I made the tough decision that I needed to leave my job. It was a very hard decision, but one that needed to be made.

I felt DSCN2363horrible for the students that were invested in learning, but I knew that I had nothing left to give them, and in turn it was taking a huge toll on me. I had to take care of myself, so I quit. I agreed to finish out the week and used the time to have the kids clean the classroom, which no longer was as nice as it was at the beginning of the year.

I told the kids that I was leaving and was pretty honest about why. I talked about how one treats others affects the other, how I wanted to help them, but was getting the message that the majority of them didn’t want my help. I told them that I was tired and that I treated them with nothing but respect and fairness, but did not get the same treatment in return. So I packed up my stuff, left the few lesson plans that I had prepared ahead of time in my desk, and turned in my keys.

I definitely was sad to leave, as I had really enjoyed the majority of my time working at the high school, especially the staff and the kids that were focused and motivated. I am not a teacher by training. And now I can cross that career off the list of possible ones to pursue with a graduate degree.

I learned so much from my time at Yap High School, not only about Yap, but also about myself. I will forever remember the experiences I had there. But as the saying goes, “put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs”. 

DSCN2349

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hungry Games

By: Mike

If you’ve recently purchased combo sized bag of fast food at a drive-thru (or through) window while sitting in your car, or had someone deliver a pizza or little boxes of Chinese food to your very door for a mere gratuity, appreciate the simple luxury of it.

On Yap, you can either make your own food or eat at a restaurant, and neither option is particularly fast or convenient. 

The closest thing to ‘fast food’ would be the lunch plate shelf at the local grocery store. Every day around lunchtime, shelves sandwiched between the shampoo and snack food aisles are stocked with plastic wrapped Styrofoam plates of food prepared at small restaurants around town. 

DSC00026

On today’s menu, featured on the shelf below the rolls and loaves of bread, you’ll find a still moderately warm plate of fried chicken or a stir fry of likely pork or chicken, with a side of lumpia (a deep fried eggroll wrapper filled with with vegetables or ground beef), yam or taro, and of course, rice. On the shelf below it are plates of grilled pork or fish, with macaroni salad, yellow rice, and everyone’s favorite, the barbequed hot dog.

Early on in this adventure, I worked up the courage to try a plate from the YCA grocery store, mostly out of curiosity. I can’t say I finished the entire thing, but I suffered no ill effects, and the meal delivered everything it had promised for around $3.50.

IMG_0193Shortly thereafter, I thankfully was introduced to the nearby Oasis Restaurant.  This popular eatery is located right along the main road through town, and is usually packed shortly after the start of the government lunch hour at 11:30am.

It’s not a large restaurant by any means, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to get one of the eight inside booths (one of which is perpetually reserved for special guests of the management), so you can enjoy the cool breeze from their industrial-sized air conditioning unit.

IMG_0194The booths and tables are handmade using local timbers. Some tables even contain a ‘secret’ panel on the top where you could leave a clandestine note for a future customer to discover.  As in most of the best restaurants in Colonia, the walls are simply paneled with local wood, giving a very natural and welcoming feel.

Note:  Those windows aren’t really looking outside. Rather, you can see a cleverly designed piece of wallpaper a couple inches away!

Some outside seating is partially covered, while other tables are exposed to the elements. Mosquitos can be a problem, so lather up with bug spray beforehand.

IMG_0185

DSCN2587During my first few months on Yap I would eat at Oasis so consistently, they would just know to start cooking up a daily lunch special when I arrived. For the amount of food you get for only $5 (recently increased to $6), it’s a deal you just can’t beat.

Today’s special was: an excellent sweet and sour pork and cabbage soup, followed by a well-portioned spicy chicken entrée (although good, it wasn’t particularly spicy), two beef lumpia, a small salad, a piece of local yam and taro, rice, and a bottomless glass of iced tea.

Also popular at the Oasis are the ‘sizzling’ stir fry dishes (fish, pork, or chicken), that send up a plume of steam as they exit the kitchen. With enough patrons ordering these platters, the entire restaurant can quickly be filled with a thick haze caused by so much noisily sizzling meat.

IMG_0192You can even order food from across the street at the quaint, cozy O’Keefe’s Waterfront Inn, and the restaurant will bring it to you. Tables are set up on their outdoor patio, so you can enjoy your food while gazing out at the ocean.

It’s the closest thing to a delivery service that Yap has to offer.

DSCN2574Another of my favorite establishments is the Ganir, on the upper level of the main Yap Cooperative Association building in the center of town.

 

DSCN2573

The food is reasonably priced and pretty good, especially the Philippine entrees like adobo (a spicy curry-like sauce, not to be confused with the chocolatey southwestern sauce of the same name).

My favorite dish though is the Orange Chicken, which looks and tastes exactly as a Westerner would think it should. 

The menu advertises lobster and local crab for only $10, but it’s never been available when I’ve inquired.

The inside restaurant boasts a brand new big-screen television, which is usually tuned to either CNN or the latest sporting event. There are a variety of lunch special entrees, but most are just variations on your standard stir fry.

There’s also an outdoor deck, with a largely unused bar, that gets a strong breeze from the ocean.

DSCN2578

Tilted BoatsIt’s a pleasant place to sit and look out at the water, especially during “happy hours” (4pm to 6pm), when cans of Budweiser and Bud Light are only $2.

This photo was taken from the Ganir deck, on an unusually calm and cloudy day.

 

 

Another restaurant with a good waterside deck is at the E.S.A Hotel (after two years, I still have no idea what “E.S.A” stands for), conveniently located right down the street from our house. The hamburgers are homemade, and there are a variety of soups served in giant bowls that are perfect to combat the common cold. 

DSCN0079

The view across Chamorro Bay is picturesque, and since the restaurant opens at 6pm you’re sure to catch a spectacular sunset. 

However, if you’re looking for a really beautiful mealtime vista, you can grab a bite at the restaurant overlooking Colonia and the nearby harbor at the Yap Pacific Dive Resort or YPDR (formally known as Traders’ Ridge, a name inspired by its ridge top location).

DSCN2677

This hotel was originally called the “Seabee Inn”, and was constructed after World War II and the liberation of Yap from the Japanese. The restaurant and bar areas are actually a restored former Japanese command post!

DSCN2686The architecture of Traders’ Ridge (which locals and expats still call the place, rather than its current unwieldy name) inspired by the style favored by the trader clipper ship captains of the 19th century, and much of the décor features traditional Yapese and Micronesian handicrafts. Looking at the place, you can’t but help wonder if you’d stepped onto the set of the old “Fantasy Island” television show, or perhaps even some secret tropical hideaway for the rich and famous. In fact, the latter is actually the truth, as the place was built with the fortunes of an extremely wealthy individual who invented critical components of the first artificial heart!

The food at the restaurant is good, though too overpriced for the budgets of your average on-island resident. For example, a fairly standard southwestern chicken sandwich (apparently southwestern because they use “herbs and spices” on the chicken) is on the cheap side at $10 with fries, while the more elaborate Burgundy Beef entrée is $22. Specialty drinks such as the Betel-Nut Martini are $8.

DSCN1769

 

As with most restaurants on Yap, the quality of the food is often inconsistent. Some days you’ll get a perfectly satisfactory meal, while other times you’ll order the same dish that is a pale shadow of your previous Traders’ dining experience. Also, when ordering off the menu, have a backup plan just in case ingredients aren’t available.

That notwithstanding, some of the best food I’ve eaten on Yap was from YPDR. On Miranda’s 30th birthday we had a truly wonderful meal of local lobster and mangrove crab, served out on the “Tree Terrace” area of the restaurant.  It was a memorable experience for us both. The food was absolutely excellent, thanks to the fresh local shellfish and plenty of melted butter.

DSCN1737

Phallic FishOf course, there a few other restaurants on Yap. I’ve previously mentioned the restaurant-boat Mnuw (where the picture below featuring my Yapese basket was taken) and its extraordinary fish tacos. I usually eat lunch during the week at the Yap Marina Sports Bar and Grill where my favorite has to be the Blackened Tuna Sashimi (pictured). I should note that this appetizer usually doesn’t look quite so phallic. There’s also a restaurant on the north coast of Yap called the Moon Rize Café that serves homemade cheese sticks (a lumpia wrapper filled with cheese and deep fried) and specialty Japanese dishes.  

All this writing about food has had the unanticipated effect of making me hungry. So without further ado, happy eating!

DSCN2222

Monday, April 2, 2012

In Memory of Peanut

By Mike, with contributions by Miranda

This is without a doubt the most difficult blog entry I’ve ever had to write.

On the morning of March 12, 2012, I awoke to find that Peanut, my near-constant puppy companion and faithful friend, had died.

It was just a few months past his first birthday.

IMG_0110I don’t need to describe the details of, nor would I ever want to re-live, the horror and shock of finding his body, or the several hours that followed of chipping away at a grave in the hard-packed, rocky dirt of our front yard. Completely overwhelmed by grief, I was so very thankful for the help of a few friends who helped Miranda and I dig Peanut’s final resting place on this island he loved so much. Even now, several weeks later, I find it impossible to write about his death without getting choked up.

People have reminded me to focus on all the good times we had though. It is a very easy thing to do. For both Miranda and I, he had been a central part of our lives here from the moment we brought him home as a little puppy that could easily fit inside a shoebox. With very few exceptions, each and every day thereafter was filled with a special kind of joy as we watched our little pup grow from a chubby, clumsy adolescent into the silly, loving, and handsome dog I’d like to always remember him as.

DSCN2236Without a doubt, Peanut made our lives here on Yap so much better.

Here he is, dragging Miranda around at the beach, after learning that he instinctively knew how to swim. He enjoyed it so much, Miranda and I joked he’d likely swim out to sea. The harness you see him wearing was something we had to get him. Whenever we had him on the leash he would choke himself because all he wanted to do was run. The harness only seemed to add to his powerful tugs as he could put his whole body into it. He knew how to walk nicely with the leash, but sometimes he just got so excited.

He was a bit uncertain about the water at first though. He slipped around on the rocks, and needed some reassurance to leave the shore.

I was always glad to oblige with a little pep talk.

DSCN2228

Peanut’s happiness was just infectious. I couldn’t help but smile at his antics, whether it was chasing chickens and frogs around our yard, rolling around in the grass with his sister Lemon, or proudly following me when I’d walk down the road. I was proud of him too. No matter how frustrating my day was, it instantly got better when I’d come home to see him sitting just inside the front door, tail wagging wildly.

IMG_0155

He loved to ride in the car (evidenced by non-stop drooling as he’d try to stick his head out the window), to chew on anything from his giant box of dog toys (that were usually spread out all across the living room), and could run faster than you’d think such a "husky”  dog would be able to. He would lay fast asleep on the living room floor, and dream about open fields and slow chickens, and we’d watch his paws twitch and his his jaw clench. He was still working on learning how to ‘stay’ and he never could learn ‘lay down’ because he always sat funny, with each leg out looking like an outrigger canoe, making it hard for him to go from sitting to laying. He could sit, and shake, and fetch like a purebred show dog (or at least it seemed like to his puppy-parents who always rewarded him with a treat or a head pat).

He wasn’t pure bred though. He was a Yap dog through and through.

One that was very loved, and who will be so very missed.

DSCN2232

Miranda and I would both like to thank our friends, both on-island and abroad, for their condolences and support. A special thanks goes to a former expat and fellow pet lover who sent us a book called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. It really helped. Peanut was a part of our little family here, his loss has affected us profoundly, and we thank you all for being there. 

Miranda would also like to mention YAPS…

Started by American expats and Peace Corps volunteers living here on Yap in 2009, Yap Animal Protection Society, or YAPS, is a non-profit organization with a mission “to protect the welfare of Yap State’s animal population and raise public awareness and provide basic veterinarian service to Yap”. Through fundraising, YAPS is currently trying to raise money to bring a vet to Yap for a few days to provide a clinic for Yap’s animals including spay and neutering, basic healthcare, and to humanely euthanize sick or injured animals. This service is so badly needed because there is no resident vet on Yap, and the local population has a different sense of the value of non-food animals. Pet healthcare is not a major priority.

YAPS is currently accepting donations. We personally know the people who run YAPS, all volunteers, and know that donations will be used appropriately. If you would like to donate to YAPS, visit their webpage at: 

yapanimalprotectionsociety.tumblr.com

We don’t know if having a vet here could have saved our dear pup (likely not), but we do know that animals here are in dire need of veterinarian services on a regular basis and a clinic and YAPS is a good place to start.

Here’s a last photo, from Christmas, 2011, where Peanut couldn’t stop fidgeting or looking goofy. As usual.  

IMG_0209

Good boy.