Finally we land in Yap State! Our flight landed close to midnight, but even so, I am hit with a wet wall of heat as I step off the plane.
There is a welcome sign reading “Welcome to Yap State. Experience the warmth“
They are not wrong – travel to Yap, and you will certainly experience the warmth.
Once we’ve made it to our lodgings, we have the opportunity to meet another arm of our project – a group of students returning from Ulithi who had the opportunity to join Ulithians and collect field data. It is part of an outreach project and collaboration between One People One Reef and the people of Ulithi. They look exhausted, but happy. Clearly they had just had the experience of a life time.
From Yap stone money lore
to the significance of
beetlenut in local culture,
we received a crash course in
all things Yapese.
On day 2, we get to tour the island! If there is any part of this expedition I would consider “vacation”, today would be the day. After a quick run to the hardware store (you never know when you’ll need an extra PVC joint), and local stores for gifts to present to Ulithian chiefs (beetlenut, thread, cookies…), we begin our tour. In the back of a Toyota pick-up, my colleagues and I tour Yap. From Yap money lore (stone rings, pictured), to significance of beetlenut in local culture, to the history of Papaya Beach we received a crash course in all things Yapese.
We even had the opportunity to visit a local Chief. After a tour of his home, and a quick snack of machete-hewn pineapple, we were given the privilege to tour a men’s house, built in the traditional way. My colleague, Charnelle and I, were even granted permission to enter the structure. As women, cultural rules would generally forbid this.