Palau Day 7: Otis Makes The Palauan News!

Today we awoke to our own smiling faces, smiling back at us on the front page of the “Island Times” newspaper. A photographer from the Island times has been meeting up with us at various places and taking photos of our activities. However, we could only take a moment to glance at the article as it was time for another presentation of the project, this time to the UAB (United Artists of Belau), other Government officials and invited guests. The presentations were again very well received. The students have already begun to adapt their ideas with the new information that they have learned from the previous presentations and talking to the locals. People are taking us very seriously, ask thoughtful questions and have begun pondering the next step; where we will build the memorial and what materials will hold up to the climate?

After the meeting we had the rest of the day to explore. We broke up into small groups for some touring and meandering around the city. My group’s first stop; the prisoner’s gift shop! No joke, a short walk from the dorms is the prison and in the prison they carve storyboards (storyboards are the most famous art form here in Palau ). Inside the prison the small prisoner’s gift shop was filled in its entirety with hand carved storyboards with a breadth of different stories, each piece baring a price tag with the inmate’s name who carved it.

More than just the storyboards, the prison was also interesting because it’s one of the few prisons or jails that they basically arm the prisoners, those tools they use to carve are sharp! People abide by the honor system in Palau. When you go out to eat with a large group and you are ready to pay your bill, you just go up to the bar and tell them what you ordered, no questions asked. The prison is very much the same way, one of my favorite signs in Palau was at the prison where it said No prisoners past this point.” Don’t think that would work quite the same in California.

At the prison we asked if we could see where they did the carvings; that was not allowed, they are prisoners with sharp objects after all, but they did tell us about a place a little down the ways where we could see a group of men carving storyboards. We wondered down the street, popping in and out of shops (I found more coffee, yahoo), until we found a small road next to the Mobile station and turned right (no street sign to find, just a Mobile station). Sure enough, there it was an outdoor summer house, filled with the sweet aroma of cut mahogany. We were warmly greeted, as they had heard about us and the project we working on, having seen our photos in the morning’s “Island Times.”

We’ve been experiencing a lot of rain, quick shower bursts, sometimes only lasting for 5 minutes, so the days have been much cooler and tonight was plain perfect (I’m always cold in California, not the case in Palau and it kind of feels wonderful). Taking advantage of the break in rain and the comfortable weather, a group of us headed out to enjoy the evening with tasty Palauan food, drinks and dancing. I can’t believe we’ve only been in Palau for only a week, we’ve already made such great friends with people here and seen so much, I can’t wait to see what this next week will hold!!

Thank you to Andy Leeka and all the Otis staff for your kind words, oh and Andy we miss you too!!

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One Response to Palau Day 7: Otis Makes The Palauan News!

  1. Joan says:

    Allison,
    How I look forward to reading and viewing your blog. Incredible experience for EVERYONE.

    Joan Takayama-Ogawa

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