Palau Day 10
June 11, 2011 1 Comment
Today was a big day, a double dose of presentations, both the council of Chiefs as well as the the Bilung’s council of Ladies. We met the Bilung in the morning and she gave us a personal tour of the cultural center, including the traditional Bai. A Bai is a meeting place, a hang out place, a place to tell stories. Bais are covered in traditional painted storyboards; another unique feature is that it does not contain a single nail. The structure is latticed together and tied down by coconut husks.
Our tour was capstoned by a demonstration of traditional dance and a feast (I’m not sure which one was better, because they were both so fantastic)! The girl chanting as they danced in their colorful skirts was enchanting and then the food, Oye! I’m so glad we’ve been active in Palau, because some of our meals have been quite epic, but today’s took the cake (and the crab and the taro root, and any other Palauan food you can think of).
After the dance and the feast, it was time for the students to present. On one side of the room sat the chiefs and on the other the woman’s council, from what I gather there is always a yin and yang between the men and the woman. Palau is a matriarchal society; however, there is also a balance, for every female traditional role, there is also a male traditional role, now you also add in a democratic system, with a president and senators, swirl it all together and you get one confused Allison. I’m still not sure where the balance of power lies, but it seems that decisions are made as a collective and the greater good is strongly considered. The students’ presentations were again a hit. We knew today would be our most difficult day, but the students were greeted with well thought out questions and smiling nods of approval.
We spent so long at the cultural center that we had to make a mad dash to catch the boat for our camping excursion to the rock islands that our amazing hosts at PCC put together for us… well, ok, some of the students camped; I took the speed boat back to sleep in what comparably was a nice comfy bed. I never thought I’d be so excited to see my dorm bed and shower. Despite my growing tiredness, the evening was still a lot of fun. Both boat rides were really fantastic; on the way there we took the boat that they use to teach the students to navigate using the stars, we saw the sunset over the rock islands, it was pretty invigorating, even for this tired gal. Once on the island, we were treated to more and more food: prepared food that was brought with us, burgers and hot dogs grilled over open flames and fresh, fresh sashimi that was swimming in the ocean just moments earlier. We swam (the water even at night is warm here), fished and hung out. Somewhere around midnight I took the express boat back (a small speed boat), the experience was pretty surreal, cutting through the water with the moon lighting the way, the warm air beating your face, it was better than any rollercoaster I’ve been on in awhile.
Oh and I almost forgot…. There’s going to be a wedding!! That’s right, Stephanie, Hee Jae’s interpreter and Bryan, Stephanie’s fiancé told Hee Jae today that the will be getting married here in Palau!!