Palau Day 2 or 3: Orientation

“You know you’re from the city when you hear the sound of a rooster and wonder why someone is playing a recording of a rooster?” said one of our students today. Yep, we’re not in Kansas err I mean at Otis anymore…

After falling asleep sometime after 2am, I was up with the sunrise… yay jetlag, but since I was up, I decided to grab breakfast at the dorm cafeteria where I found a group of students who had the same idea. After we finished eating our breakfast of rice, chopped wieners and toast (a meal I remember from last year as well), we went on a walk across the street to buy internet cards and start getting the lay of the land. My second stop was to the Flamingo (of course!), sadly, what I had heard was confirmed, the Flamingo had moved! Slightly crest fallen (and determined to later find the new location), we moved on to check out the other shops that were nearby.

It rained intermittently today, which meant it stayed a bit cool for Palau (even though the students felt it was still hot enough). The rain didn’t stop us though, we are in Palau! And the rain is a tropical rain, it’s like a warm shower (which is ironic, because my actual shower at the dorms is quite cold, oh the memories of two weeks of COOOLD showers, I think I got used to it about the time we were ready to head home).

At 11am we met to distribute cell phones (YAY everyone got cell phones this year!) and touch base on procedures and schedules. After a spaghetti lunch at the cafeteria we met with Adora (one of my most favorite people!) for a campus and city tour. I am continually impressed by our Otis students, their dedication, talents and love of learning. We haven’t been in Palau a full day yet and during their free time the students were already in the local public library looking for more information that would help their project and expand their knowledge about Palauan culture. So when we toured the campus library, they also wanted to view the collection of Palaun history. When we took a walk down to the section with all the Palaun books and histories we were surprised and excited to find last year’s models! Kinda neat to see that Otis students have already made a small mark in Palau’s history.

As we moved on from the campus tour to the city tour, Adora pointed out the best places to eat and shop and then we got a special surprise; the new location of the Flamingo!! Technically closed for a midday break, we stuck our faces to the glass and knocked on the door. It only took Soline a few seconds to realize who was at the door and her face lit up with excitement; she let us in and it was a very warm reunion.

From the Flamingo we moved onto more sites, including the potential site for the Freedom Memorial. Like last year, some of the students had already gone for an early morning swim to Long Island, but for many it was their first time seeing the site that they had been envisioning for months; it was special. This was also most of the group’s first time dipping their toes in the Palaun waters, always a nice treat.

Tonight was our real first night in Palau so we decided to celebrate with a dinner outside of the Dorms of traditional Palaun food. The entire dorm group of us, 9 students, 2 staff and one Alumni, headed to one of the local eateries directly across from the dorms were we indulged ourselves in fresh fish, taro root and tapioca… Ahhh it’s good to be home!

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