And we have landed

We got into the airport last night a little bit early.  Staff from Fish ’n Fins was awaiting our arrival, but no one was there from the Carolines to greet us and bring us to the hotel.  When we got in to our cabin, the room was very hot and sweat inducing.  We modestly unpacked (mostly unpacking our dive gear), and finally went to bed.  I fell asleep sometime after midnight, and awoke at 3 am, shivering as the room had finally cooled off.  We wound up staying awake at that point, and getting ourselves ready for breakfast and the dive day.  The view from our cabin was beautiful, and the skies were welcoming our arrival back to Palau.  Howver, we were covered in bites of some sort, not entirely too sure what did it, as I heard no mosquitos last night.  And, as breakfast was served, gnats began to swarm around our little cabin.  We are the only ones here, so I have no idea as to whether or not it happens in the other cabins.

The driver from Fish ’n Fins was early!  We were ready to go, though, so off we went.

We dove with Robin, who is deemed a senior divemaster and expert on local history.  He was very interesting and entertaining during the trip.  As we headed towards Ngemlis Coral Garden (aka Dexter’s Wall), he told us about why the turtles in Palau had such clean shells - apparently they brush up against the soft corals, which scrape any debris off of the shell.  We got to see one in action on the Ngemlis dive!  There were many turtles on the dive, to include a hawksbill and green sea turtle sitting butt to butt.  Plus I got to see my very first leopard shark!!

I want to take a minute to rave about the boat designed by Navot Bornovski (co-owner and marine engineer).  There are rows of seats, each of which has 3 tank slots in front of it.  Divers suit up in their seat, and then roll into the water without having to rush and jockey for position on one of two entry locations.  The ladders are not terribly short, and the larger boats have a railing that goes into the boat, providing more stability.

Loved it.

Our second dive of the day was at an old favorite - Blue Corner.  We timed the dive trip to be between the half moon and full moon this summer so that we could get the good currents on the channel dives, and see big critters.  Unfortunately, Blue Corner didn’t get the memo!  Almost no sharks, and ping pong current (those who have dived w/Joedyn know what I’m talking about).  We did see a lot of jacks, and some really big chevron barracuda, and I was befriended by the Napoleon wrasse after doing the “Gee, do I have an egg?” trick.  We also noticed a lot of feeding anemones on the corner today as well.

Robin was very good to us - we had some novices diving in the boat with us, and he briefed a 45 minute dive at both locations.  I must have made a sad face, because he said that some of us were very experienced, and he would be happy to let us stay down without him to finish up the dive at an hour.  Yay!  All of our divemasters were very good that way, shepherding the inexperienced, and giving those of us with experience a little leeway.  

On our trip home, Robin diverted the travel a big to show us some sea snakes up on dry land - he also admonished us that they might even be in the trees and fall down on top of us.  Ick.

We returned to the Carolines only to discover that they had turned off our air conditioning during the day.  Since our room gets all the afternoon sunlight, you can imagine how hot it was.  Probably over 100 degrees.  And we couldn’t turn on the air conditioning.  It seems that the units are old, and you have to hold the button a long time and press hard.  Even after 2 1/2 hours with the air on, the room had not cooled down.  We decided on the way to dinner to cut our losses, and change hotels.  I called Fish ’n Fins and left a message - after we talked with the front desk.  They were very concerned about us leaving, but we really couldn’t stay there any longer.  We are hoping to get the Sea Passion tomorrow morning.

Dinner was at the Taj - a favorite place of ours.  The favorite place of ours. Robert and his staff were warm and welcoming, and we thoroughly enjoyed our supper.