Angaur 2

By herbert, 13.01.2014

We now have another pet.Monkey

According to Matt it has approx. 36 hours of life left. At the most, he adds, but that is easy to find out. Time will tell.
We will see, but it seems baby monkeys have a limited “use before” date. They’re pretty much the only kind of pet monkeys: the small ones.
Being missionaries, it’s only natural that Abu has been christined. People tell me they’ll vote me off the island because of all the bad puns, but I’m taking that chance.

Back in Meyuns on Koror, we’ve had puppies, a jelly fish, a crab (which got eaten by someone after just one the day) and a sea cucumber (whatever that was, haha). Sadly, one of the puppies got run over – I was told – and the ocean life was set free.
Pets don’t seem to live long here. And most stuff really doesn’t seem to last long: termites or rust will eventually catch up with it. We talked a bit about a possible reason and it is perhaps that our materials are lasting longer now than they used to. Only 60 years ago, plastics was a pretty new resource, and it takes time to learn how to properly dispose of it (we’ve never really had the need). In addition, there’s a material surplus in many societies, where there wasn’t in the earlier days.

Angaur is also known as Monkey Island. All monkeys have a price on their head: 5 USD. Firearms are prohibited but air rifles are allowed and some of the local guys try to make an extra buck, or actually an extra 5 bucks. Just some 8 years ago, people had their own backyards where they grew tapioca, bananas and various fruits and vegetables. Today, most of them have given up because of the monkey problem. Which shows how serious that really is and how difficult it is to resolve it.
The monkeys were imported during the days the German exploited a phosphate plant – to see if the air was safe down in the mines – and unfortunately some monkeys escaped. Little did they now that decades later, the monkeys would be the reason for making it impossible for people to grow food. A typhoon in 2012 toppled many trees, destroyed what was left of the acres, and weeds and jungle bush have since take over. The combination of monkeys AND the weeds and jungle are a problem all by itself.
Every morning we’re being woken up by a rooster. It walks around the building and whenever I open the door or a window to look outside, it always makes me smile when I see it running away. What a chicken!

At the moment I’m teaching math to the 7th graders, every day from 8 to 9. We’re doing some algebra and the girls are at various levels with their understanding, which can be challenging but it is fun to do this. Adding some drama to the explanations and examples helps capturing their attention, many thanks to Joseph Avakian – I’m forever endebted.
The school has 21 students, 9 teachers, a librarian and a cook, and they make up a large part of the local population which has shrunk to half its size in just 10 years. The boat from Koror to Angaur (5 USD per ride: cheap!) now does one weekly trip instead of two, but there’s still the options of a plane ride (check out PMA – Palauan Missionary Aviation), and – weather permitting – there’s a speedboat which sets you back just 10 USD.
Once in Angaur, you can lookup the ‘Palaun Surf Bungalows’, which is run by Benny and Caroline. They have stories to tell, a beautiful bungalow to rent out, and offer good food. If they happen to be out of space, talk to them about putting up your hammock! For a tourist, each of those options is an experience in itself and it definitely puts Angaur on the map that way.

For locals, the ocean the necessarily trade route as there is no local brewery here, nor farm, greenery, .. If someone has a job, it’s usually a government-related job; that could actually be any government, as there are a few Philippino and Korean guys here building some houses because the typhoon two years ago destroyed so much. It’s great to see that those government contribute in this way!

I believe to make Angaur florish again, one way is to focus on tourism.
The island has a lot to offer. The people are laid-back in a positive way, including and open. The nature is beautiful and there is a lot to explore or contribute to. The WW2-relics are only somewhat harder to find, but that adds to the fun. Clearing the jungle around a WW2 air plane wreck and wiping dirt off the remains of a wing gives you quite a different memory than walking up to it when its on display in a museum. Angaur also has nice beaches, waves to surf and there are enough roads to take you around the whole island easily.
To make this happen, the place mostly needs attention on the web. You can help them doing that, by checking in on facebook or posting pictures on instagram or picasa.. There is no arguing that Angaur is beautiful.

Another way to make it florish is to build a good infrastructure. It’s the end of the world in a way, it’s quiet, people are open: there is nobody who can deny it’s not just plain beautiful.
If you want to have a retreat there, and perhaps work from paradise, do check your requirements for an internet connection and talk to Benny and Caroline who run the local restaurant.
you would come a long way with a monthly internet subscription from the PNCC, the Palauan National Communication Company.
To make this happen, ask PNCC for a time frame, ask the president when the sea cable to the Philippines will be ready, scour kiva.org for projects in Palau, and forward public initiatives to your government’s representatives.
Nobody can help Angaur as you can.

What do you think?

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