Mel Thunderbolt | Farewell Palau
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Farewell Palau

We are leaving Palau tomorrow after being here for 6 weeks instead of 2.  As you know, we have been waiting for generator parts and finally everything is back and running in good order, we have air-conditioning – hallelujah, so we don’t have to be drenched with sweat while trying to sleep.

We have been busy socializing with the locals as well as the other sailing yachts anchored here off Sam’s.  Sam’s is a dive club with all the amenities including a dive shop, school, boats and bar.  This bar called Bottom Time and it is here where all the fun events take place like big cook off competitions, naked bar sliding, sing-a-longs, skinny dipping dares, you name it.  Everyone knows each other as well as everybody’s business.  I am going to miss the friends I have made here but excited to get going at the same time.

Local housing in Palau

A few of the yachts here are busy doing a circumnavigation and I love listening to their stories.  Some of them have come from the same places we are going and they give us advice for our future sailing.  Some of the islands have lepers and some have rumors of cannibalism.  We don’t want to go there!!

From here we are heading ESE trying to get out of the tropical cyclone area which we are in.  Due to us being here for so long we have lost time as we have to be in Tonga to work on the wreck by the end of July.  So, we have to miss a few islands and Atolls along the way in Micronesia, and are heading straight to Kiribati, this is about 2500nm away which should take us about two weeks at sea.  It’s a long stretch but we will make up our time, and once we get to the Phoenix and Gilbert groups we can start messing around and diving (looking for Amelia’s plane) There are so many uninhabited islands and atolls, the diving will be out of this world.  I have heard that some of the islands have only 50 people and don’t see other people for months on end.  When you get there, they all swim out to offer you eggs and fish to barter and you get invited to visit the king of the tribe, he then kills a pig in front of you and you sit in a circle and chew on betel nut with the king.  I cannot wait.

Lobster dinner

I have been eating so much fish (some of you might know that I didn’t eat much fish before this trip), I now eat tuna sashimi for breakfast, lunch and dinner – although today I did wake up with a swollen face of hives and I think it has to do with eating so much fish.

I am loving my new island lifestyle – every day I feel I am becoming more like an islander myself.  Society tends to make you concerned with looks and pressures of life and you forget who you actually are along the way.  Every day it feels like I am pulling away a leaf on a corn cob, slowly pulling away the leaves of society pressures.  Finally bearing the true Mel, the Mel that I am deep inside.  That is what it feels like living like this.

I have not worn make up for months, my hair is now it’s natural colour (I dyed it dark brown before I left France) and now that it has faded, I see my real hair colour sprouting through, no highlights needed.  The sun and sea have turned my hair into some sort of scarecrow bush, which I am trying to tame with coconut oil but having no luck.  I am finally getting used to sweating constantly and looking like I have measles from all the mosquito bites.  (Not a pretty sight).

Island life

I have not worn shoes since I left France in March, the only time being the occasional walk through the jungle when I wear my flip flops.  I am concerned that the next thing I loose might be my teeth and then I will have to remain as an islander and wear a reed skirt…

The diving here has been phenomenal!  Yesterday I had the best dive yet.  We went to a place called German Channel which has a Manta Ray cleaning station.  We sat on the sand at a depth of about 25m and waited, we could see the plankton in the water higher up and moved up to take a look.  All of a sudden there came all the Mantas, so big, all around us, doing circles and eating the plankton in their alien way.  I happened to look down and there were about 4 Grey sharks, to the left was a huge turtle.  Fish all around.  You cannot describe the feeling.  I look forward to diving with the whales now in Tonga.

I am not sure when we will have email contact again as from now on it will get really remote.  Loin-cloths and nose rings here I come.

So, good bye for now, until we talk again.

A slice of heaven

Melissa Van Der Walt
grace@circlemedia.co.za