On Yap, the perception of the passage of time expands and contracts in unusual ways.
Particularly hot afternoons can feel like an entire sweaty summer, while the cooler evenings often come and go in the blink of an eye. Most weekdays, we come home from work, eat some dinner, and before we know it, its bedtime (which also probably contributes to our infrequent blogging). Some hours of sleep later, the cycle repeats. On weekends, even when our plans consist of little more than planting ourselves in front of the steady oscillations of our living room fan with a good book or movie, those precious hours are expended all too soon. Sunday afternoons, with its steadily ticking countdown timer to the start of another week, seem to end as soon as it’s begun.
Strangely enough, while the days are slow, months pass by mostly unnoticed except for the changing of the picture on our calendar. This month, it’s a nostalgia-inducing picture of the Fremont Bridge in Seattle, only a few short blocks from our old apartment. Even with the molasses-slow afternoons, it still amazes us that we’re fast approaching the mid-way point of our adventure. We’re not close enough yet to start counting down to the end, but some days it feels like it.
Perhaps this preoccupation with time has to do with our recent birthdays. Miranda turned 29 on August 29th and is ready to enjoy the last year of her 20’s. A week later, Mike turned 33, and continued his inevitable advance towards middle age.
For Miranda’s special day, we drove up north to Maap and had lunch at the Village View restaurant. Because it offers a rare chance to simply enjoy a sandy beach and swim in the ocean, it seems like Maap has become our old-standby destination. The weather thankfully cooperated, and the food was great as always. One substitution was fried strips of breadfruit instead of the usual French Fries. If not for a slightly orange color to the fries, you wouldn’t know it’s not potato!
For the rest of the afternoon, we sat on the beach and watched the waves crash against the reef far out from shore. Since the tide was in, we waded into the water easily, without having to trudge across expanses of slippery sea grass, slimy sea cucumbers, and the eels that make their home there. After cooling ourselves off in the ocean, we returned to the mostly empty beach. Aside from us, the only other person was an Asian tourist, likely staying at the Village View resort, which caters to visitors from the Pacific Rim. He was dressed in what could be generously described as a man-thong, and was doing various calisthenics and quite possibly dance moves all by himself halfway down the shore. Resisting the urge to giggle uncontrollably, we decided to give the gentleman his privacy, and returned home in good spirits.
A week later, Mike celebrated his birthday. He spent most of the day alternately counting the increasing number of gray hairs on his head. Just kidding. Mike slept in a little later than usual, and had a completely enjoyable, mostly unproductive day. Later in the evening, we went and had one of our best restaurant dinners since arriving on Yap. We ate at the Manta Ray Bay restaurant onboard the Mnuw (see our June 1st entry), an old sailing ship converted into a bar/eatery. Mike was curious about the recent update to the menu there. Previously, the restaurant featured decent, but expensive, entrees that seemed to add “Manta Ray” to the name for a few bucks more. Manta Ray Chicken and Pasta, is still just spaghetti with chicken. No mantas are included.
However, a few weeks ago the menu dramatically changed for the better, moving away from faux fine dining to focus on simple, bar food made with local ingredients. Gordon Ramsay would likely approve. There are three varieties of fish taco (including an outstanding Cajun spiced flavor) using fresh caught tuna, and a selection of burgers that are so close to what you’d find at a Chili’s or Red Robin, you’re tempted to order a blooming onion or a tower of onion rings. Hint, hint Manta Ray proprietors.
We both enjoyed our birthdays, even if it was a reminder of the passing of time. Looking back at our respective anniversaries of life last year, it seems like we’ve come so far, both literally and figuratively. We can only look ahead, to the future, and to where we’ll be when the next round of “Happy Birthday” is sung.