Travel Tales: Yap, Micronesia

April 24, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
Located a thousand miles from anywhere you’ve ever heard of, the island of Yap is a remote outpost of forest, swamp and steep coral walls, set beneath the most stunning Pacific sunsets you are ever likely to witness. Though the outside world grows closer with each passing year, Yap’s beautiful isolation remains: a rest stop on the way to nowhere.

Far Away from Anywhere Else

On June 1, two weeks after my college graduation, I boarded a plane headed west, on my way to becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. After 30 days spent digesting cultural and professional training that would ultimately prove worthless, I landed at just past midnight on the island of Yap (Wa’ab in the local language), in a fog of late- night heat.

I had not been told about my final destination until the previous week before and had done little to prepare myself for the two years and three months that lay ahead. Misguided as it may have been, I assumed that the less I knew about where I was going, the richer the experience would be. I was probably wrong.

We disembarked after 12 hours of island-hopping from the capital island of Pohnpei, via the lagoons in Chuuk and stops in Guam and Palau, and were greeted by what looked like the entire island. We would later learn that because these 757s only landed on Yap twice a week and there was little else to do, many families would make the trip down to the airport to watch the plane arrive and depart again, whether they knew a passenger or not. Most of them, did, though: on this island of 8,000, it seemed as if everyone knew everyone.

Small World

Beneath the Trees

The road that loops around the main island is new, built thick upon ground that will most certainly turn to loose mud in the long rainy season. Gardens of taro root, mangoes and flowers are carefully tended to; they’re necessary supplements to the steady flow of canned goods that have inundated the island since the air drops during the post-war period. Beautifully cared for with little more than a machete and a pair of scissors, village lawns invite potluck picnics and lazy, late afternoons.

The Eternal Sea

Chris Coats
Senior Writer

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