P-MAN XIII Update #14 - Casey Doyle, cub reporter, steps up to the keyboard
Casey attempts to write something cognitive - TAKE ONE.
So today was my first day in Palau, and my first day on the BentProp team. And in true BentProp fashion, my plans for the trip had changed by the end of the day, but I’ll get to that later.
After not being able to sleep most of the night, I was up early to take in a run around the hotel area. “Breathtaking” and “utter amazement” are the only words that really come to mind for me to describe the sunrise over the jungle, the islands, and Malakal harbor. Quite a sight to take in.
Joe met up with Derek and me for breakfast at Palm Bistro [next-door to our hotel, and by pure coincidence, co-located with the Red Rooster Brewery], and we discussed all the people that we would attempt to track down today. In order to keep the rest of the trip flowing smoothly, we would like to make contact today with most of the local governors, the US Ambassador to Palau, and the President of Palau, President Johnson Toribiong. Unfortunatelly, the combination of island time and it being a Friday meant that we could only meet up with one governor. Fortunately, Dan O’Brian had already submitted all required permits for the team during last month's sonar survey trip, and all that was required today was courtesy calls. But the US Ambassador was very generous with her time, allowing us at least a half-hour to discuss all of our proposed mission objectives. She was very well versed in the BentProp work and the “Last Flight Home” documentary. After several engaging questions and a couple of pictures, we were off again. Derek treated me to my first Bem Ermii chocolate shake, which was accompanied by my first Bem Ermii brain freeze.
President Johnson Toribiong was busy wrapping up some post-tsunami-alert after-action items with his government officials, but squeezed us in for a short meeting in the afternoon. As always, he was pleased to see BentProp return and not only granted the team permission to return to the '453 B-24*, he insisted on coming with us.
So... that set me on a mission to get my open-water SCUBA qualification, quick! (Short Aside: I personally failed in prepping for this trip because I couldn’t quite fit my SCUBA certification into my work schedule back in Texas. But the President basically called me out.) Thankfully, Joe came to the rescue! With a couple of phone calls and some of the old Joe charm, I was set up with a personal class starting this Sunday. Only a little homework and a few individual classes and I’ll be set up with a PADI certification. Thank you, Joe!
Before picking up Warren at the airport, Derek and I had enough time to fit in some snorkeling in the harbor. Fantastic! And to make the short swim extremely interesting, we got to see a rare lion fish a few feet below us.
Anyway, the three of us are ending the night at Krämers, and I’m off to do my PADI homework.
- Casey Doyle