Starting the trip off with a bang (and loud tourists)

So we got in last night some time after nine and got settled.  The hotel seemed as Jodi said it to be - sparse, clean, quiet, good air conditioning, and quiet.  And it was.  Until 2:55 am.

We had dropped off to sleep, Wayne at about 10, me at about 10:30.  We were both hoping for good sleep.  Alas, it wasn’t in the cards.  At 2:55 (well, it seemed throughout the night), the front desk buzzer rang, and all calamity erupted.  Really loud voices, banging luggage, children running screaming in the hallway. After about 15 minutes I got up, opened the door and admonished with a shush.  Didn’t really help.  So, I was up at 3 am for pretty much the rest of today until now.

We decided at 6 am to go out and walk to the drug store to see when it opened.  Then from there we got air phone cards (which were the wrong kind, not wifi but cell card data), and came back with plans to check out at 10 am, go back to the drug store to get ibuprofen and benedryl, and then head to the Taj for lunch buffet.  I amended that with going to the sports store to get some new shorts and t-shirts.  My Patagonia dresses were not cutting it, just too hot for humid Palau.  We ran across Matt (on his way to get good coffee), exchanged plans for the day, and then Wayne and I went to the Rock Island Cafe for breakfast.  I wasn’t going to eat much, but suddenly, after 2 sleepless nights, I was HUNGRY.  Steak and eggs for me, veggie omelet for Wayne.  

We went back to the hotel and met up with Matt and Jodi, and laughed about the noise control issue of the morning.  We went back to our room, did a little wi-fi time, and then there was a little tapping  at the door.  We all proceeded to do our morning errands/interests, and then it was time to meet up.  And it was down pouring -the kind that doesn’t allow for a break in the humidity.  But it only lasted a short while, and we spent the majority of that time enjoying the lunch buffet at the Taj.  There were two boys and a dog playing in the rain, so cute to watch.

Then back to the DW to wait for our 12:30 pickup, which happened at about 12:38.  Not bad by Palauan time!

We went to Fish n Fins and signed in, getting our permits.  We met our companions on the trip, and got to see our room chart.  Then we visited with Lupin, the dive cat, and with Tova, who brought down her two dogs, Fin and Nemo.  Beautiful dogs, and a particular cat!

We headed to the boat, got our boat briefing, and started settling in.  Dive gear unpacked, nitrox analyzed, and clothing unpacked.  The boat staff provided a late lunch, in which Wayne and I participated minimally.  There was mushroom quiche and fried unicorn fish. I felt guilty having a little of the fish, and Wayne felt no guilt at eating some quiche.

Our first dive was a checkout dive at the Helmet Wreck at 4:30 pm.  We got there after a boat from Sam’s Tours did, and the divers had been down for at least 30 minutes.  That combined with the rain was going to make for a very silty dive.  And it did.  I was being very careful since this was not only my first since March, but I’m only two weeks into ankle recovery.  So, I took caution entering (I’m letting the divemasters do all the work for my gear), I didn’t use the camera, and I handed up my gear when getting on the surface.  We got to see Jodi’s favorite fish on this dive, the barramundi.  He was hiding just a wee bit.  There were also two pair of of beautiful longhead (?) slugs, and others of the typical sort you find on the wreck.   I saw a juvenile blue ring angelfish, something I’d never seen here before.  And a juvenile female Napoleon Wrasse.  Alas, no titan scorpionfish, no batfish, and no crocodile scorpionfish.  But it was just a checkout dive.

A small break ensued, and dive number two was at Hafa Adai wreck.  Only five of us went down for the night dive.  There was a small amount of surface current down to about 15 feet, so we kept the line as a reference for descending.  The water felt warmer than it had this afternoon, but that could be my imagination.  As we got down to the wreck, there was a star pufferfish, pretty large.  Most of what the guide pointed out was small stuff.  I found a huge bottle of wine encrusted over with a teeny tiny blue dragonfish nudibranch in front of it.  And, in the black wire coral, a banded tozeuma shrimp, which very closely resembles the long nose hawkfish, a species that has been disappearing here.  There was also a very interesting lamellarid, the chelyonotus semperi - about the size of small woman’s fist, black, lumpy, with green edging.  

I was better with my ankle protection, leading out of the water with my right foot, and getting off the back of the skiff onto a level platform when returning to Ocean Hunter III.

Dinner was served at 9 pm.  Only five of the nine of us made it.  We started with smoked fish soup, and followed up with a main course consisting of chicken and prunes, rice, salad, and wilted spinach.  Plus roasted red peppers surrounding cheese.  Dessert was fruit with vanilla ice cream.  I can hear dad sighing happily for that.  I’m not too sure that I like dinner this late, but we shall see.

And now it is time for bed, tomorrow starts the five dive per day schedule.  I have taken my ibuprofen, and am proppoing up my foot in order to go to sleep.  Wayne was gone about 20 minutes ago!

Cabin listing