Monday, May 24, 2010

A day trip to Wanyaan Village

Recently we were invited by one of Mike’s co-worker’s to go up to his village for the afternoon to see the sights and borrow his kayak. It was a 40 minute drive up North and then over to the most Eastern part of the island. We were shown around a little and spent some time talking with Mike’s co-worker on the first sandy beach we have set foot on here.

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He then took us to a stretch of beach owned by a family member, where the kayak is stored. He gave us the paddles and let us loose. It was a little windy that day, but we figured we are both experienced Scouts, we could handle it! At least we know how to hold a paddle correctly! We pushed off the white sand beach and headed out to explore the island from a different view! Luckily it was a little cloudy, allowing us to relax, hidden from the sun’s hot rays.

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The water was crystal clear, and had their been less wind and waves, we are sure it would have looked like glass!

We battled waves, wind, and incoming tides to paddle out towards the reef and bluest waters, only to stop paddling and drift for awhile, then rinse and repeat several times. It was so relaxing to get out on the water! We did get soaked, but getting soaked here almost always feels good! Here are a few more pictures we took while paddling:

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If this isn’t relaxed, I don’t know what is!

After a little over an hour we were ready to head back to shore, letting the tide do most of the work. We beached the kayak and played in the sand for awhile, taking pictures and exploring. Mike decided to go swimming a little, Miranda was content exploring the beach looking for shells and watching hermit crabs, and vowed to bring her swimsuit next time (what was she thinking?)

We are getting better at the whole taking our own picture thing!

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Miranda did get bitten by two different hermit crabs, and couldn’t help but be reminded of the mating crawdad incident many years ago at Camp Wildside! (You ladies are never far from my thoughts!)

After getting our fill of the beach, for that day at least, we packed up and headed back to Mike’s co-worker’s house. While returning the paddles he insisted we take a fish he had caught early that same morning, out by where we had just been kayaking. The type of fish is uncertain, some sort of a reef fish. We took it home, wondering what exactly we were going to do with our first whole fish. The verbal crash course Miranda’s dad gave us on cleaning and cutting a fish rattled around in our heads as we stared at this fish that looked nothing like a trout or salmon.

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After some poking and debating, we gave in and called on our friend Ryan, the chef, to come fillet it for us! Miranda then wrapped it in bacon, a sure way to get Mike to eat fish (or anything really!), and baked it.

Before leaving the village we took a few pictures. They don’t do justice to what it feels like to be in a traditional village here on Yap. There is a sense of calm, quiet, and tradition in each village we visit. This village in particular holds the second largest stone money in Yap. The largest in on Rumung Island (The Forbidden island) that few have seen. We have heard that it stands 15 feet high and 10 feet across and lays flat on the ground since it is so large.

Here is the second largest stone money:

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This one right next to it is also very large, but not quite as big:

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It is still amazing for us to think about how these used to be Yap’s currency. And now they are proudly displayed on the side of the road, leaning against houses and buildings, where they have laid for hundreds of years!

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For some, the most notable thing about Wanyaan may just be the community church. Located near the entrance to the village, it has something that is just hard to miss. A thuw wearing Jesus! Notice the traditional gifts being presented to him:

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We had a wonderful day at the beach, and we hope to do it again real soon!

EDIT: How could we have forgotten to mention one of the more exciting parts of the day? While beach combing Miranda collected several shells for our growing collection at home. She put them in a zip-loc bag and they came home with us. Once home she put the bag on a table. Awhile later we came home and Miranda heard a weird noise coming from the table, upon investigation she saw something moving in the bag! Oh no one of the shells had a hermit crab living in it! She had checked the shells before taking them, but it must have been a really good hider! Mike set the hermit crab free in the front yard, shell and all. After a few hours it had moved several feet, and by morning it was gone. But the next weekend it reappeared for a day in the lawn, but we haven't seen it since. Sorry for kidnapping you hermy, we didn't know! Next time give us a signal before we take you miles away from your home, and the ocean!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our Pal Lippy

This post is dedicated to our pal Lippy.  She is our “new” dog.  It was a mutual adoption. Previously Lippy hung out at the house across the street, but when our neighbors moved out so did Lippy.  Almost immediately she began hanging out at our house. She had visited in the past, but now she is here to stay. 

Lippy is beautiful on the inside.  She appears to have had a pretty rough life, with many scars, including a large one on her left hind leg, and her namesake hanging lip, and one eye is missing altogether. She won’t get within a few feet of us, but continues to hang out by our front door. She is also extremely submissive around other dogs. 

We feed her our scraps and left-over’s regularly and also give her the occasional Milk-Bone which she can’t seem to get enough of. We have already discovered that though she may be very hungry some days, there are some things she will still refuse to eat.  We once fed her some left over soup, she loved it, but left all the green beans and corn in the bowl. She also always passes on beans. She initially wouldn’t eat a decent helping of taro, brought home from a restaurant just for her, but after realizing nothing else was coming did end up eating it. She of course loves anything with cheese on it. Her favorite are Miranda’s enchiladas.

During the day she enjoys hanging around by the front door either on the driveway, under the mango tree, or up against the house where she has dug herself a nice sized nest.  But in case that isn’t doing the trick, she can always try the two smaller nests she has dug up against the back of the house. Another favorite place on hot days, as many dogs have found, is underneath the car. Luckily she gets out very quickly if you open the car door.

She isn’t much of a guard dog, often running away when a person or another dog approaches her. She does put up with our frequent visitor Morris, another submissive dog. Lippy will let out one single bark to announce his presence to us.  Hopefully Lippy isn’t jealous that Morris was officially claimed by the people down the street when they placed an improvised collar on him awhile back.  A t-shirt sleeve did the job, but was gone within a few days, it now lays near the driveway of a puppy he often plays with.

Our girl provides (limited) companionship for Miranda during the day, listens to us when we need to talk, and makes this place feel even more like home.  We are happy with our arrangement.  We know that when we leave here she would not want to go with us.  She is a Yap dog through and through. We will enjoy our time with her and hope for a moment of her life we can make her a little safer and happier.

Lippy is a bit of a lost soul who just needs a guardian to watch over her. We will happily play that role for her while we are here. Lippy will probably never let us close enough to pet her, bathe her, or give her a collar. But for now we are hers and she is ours. How could you resist a face like that?

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You can take our sewer lines, but you can’t take our freedom…

Another thing to add to that list of things we took for granted before coming here… plumbers.

We had some difficult times in the Nigrey house recently due mostly to a major plumbing issue. It all started when Miranda did a load of laundry.

While I sat watching some TV waiting for the load to finish its final spin cycle, I just happened to look to my left to see a steady stream of water coming from the laundry room.  After unplugging the fan that was now sitting in water and assuring the water hadn’t yet reached other electronics, I went to investigate. The washer had stopped, and no water seemed to be coming from the machine itself. Instead it was streaming out of a very small hole in the seal of what looks to be some sort of covered drain/pipe. At first this didn’t seem to be a huge issue, the mop is stored next to the washer, and there is a utility sink there too. So I began to mop up the water, but when it didn’t stop coming out of the hole I got a little worried. I went the long way around the house-towards the bedrooms, rather than back through the laundry room to avoid tracking water, on my way to the phone to call Mike in a bit of a panic. But as I turned the corner from the laundry room into the hallway I got an even bigger surprise. Water wasn’t just leaking out of the very small hole, it was coming up out of our shower drain, causing a small waterfall to come out of the bathroom, filling the hallway with a half inch of water! Now in total panic mode, I called Mike’s office, but he was in a meeting. I grabbed some dirty towels and started pushing the water out the backdoor with our push broom.  Once I saw the water in the bathroom I knew this situation had taken an ugly turn. I know this because our shower and toilet drain into the same pipe. Yes friends, I was cleaning up half an inch of raw sewage.

The water eventually stopped pouring out of both drains and I was able to get all the water up, then boiled water for the strongest Pine-Sol solution I have ever mixed and proceeded to disinfect the entire area.

I wish that is where the story ends, I really do. But then our shower and toilet would not drain. We spent hours snaking the shower drain. I would have loved to snake the toilet too, but when our house was built they got a little creative when installing it. Instead of using bolts to secure it to the floor they used about an inch of grout. So we can’t take the toilet off, and trying to go through the toilet was unsuccessful because of the funny angle of the pipes. Though both were draining very slowly, something was clearly wrong. The next day Mike called the housing people and was told that they only fix “structural defects” and that if the drain was clogged it was our responsibility to unclog it, try Drain-O, right like we hadn’t thought of that and already dumped two full bottles down the pipes. We borrowed a drain snake from a friend and went to work.

By Saturday the issue seemed to be worse, with the water draining even slower than before, causing our shower to be unusable, and our toilet in barely working condition. We had to get creative. Mike’s solar shower provided him with a decent shower outside in swimming trunks, I washed my hair using the spigot on the side of the house, but just didn’t feel at all clean bathing in clothing on the side of the house (especially after our unclogging attempts).  Luckily we are still turning on the lights to the vacant house across the street nightly and I was able to jimmy the locked bathroom door open with a steak knife, and took a very quick (but hot!) shower.

Mike called the housing people first thing Monday morning. The guy came out and took a quick look (I still wonder what exactly he was looking for?). He then contacted a contractor who came out and over two days was able to fix the problem.  It took a 50 foot long pipe snake (well really it was a 50 foot long strip of metal being used as a pipe snake) and going in from the outside of the house end of the pipe.

At first they could not find the spot where the house’s pipe and the outer pipe are connected. Now I am no plumber, so I will describe this the best I can. There is a spot where the house’s pipes connect to a pipe that goes to the main pipe in the street. There is a small break in these pipes at this spot, where there is a small hatch-like chamber. Our house was at one point surrounded by 6 or 7 grown men looking for this spot. It was buried, and required an engineer to come out and point at the ground, saying “somewhere around here, dig till you find the pipe then follow it away from the house” So this is what they did, unearthing the hatch-like spot. They opened the “hatch” and a zillion cockroaches came rushing out.

Like I said, they were able to use the pipe snake to unclog the pipe. I was so thankful for these guys. It was not a fun job, but they were very professional, speedy, and didn’t make too big of a mess. I allowed them to take as many mangos as they wanted, and told them they could return for more another time. 

We are thankful to have our home back in working order. The lesson of just how blessed we are here in Yap did not go unnoticed. At least we have a bathroom!

On a side note-

To add insult to injury, earlier in the week we had a one night only termite swarm infestation in the ceiling right above our couch. But even worse than that, was when we returned Friday evening after I picked Mike up from work, and Mike walked into the kitchen to find a brand new, blind baby rat in the middle of the kitchen floor stumbling around on it’s new legs. As cute as the little thing was Mike took it outside into the lawn where we are sure it met it’s fate sometime during the evening. But we can’t help thinking that it must have been born in our walls and had stumbled out of the same hole where Wally met his sticky trap death.

Our house keeps breaking, but at least it has four walls, a solid roof, and electricity. At home these issues would be “small stuff” but here it is all magnified by the limited resources. Causing momentary panic, followed by even greater relief when it is all resolved.