10:00 AM

I miss the days of being jet lagged and waking up at 6AM ready to roll. I always wanted to be a morning person but it just never worked out for me. I could set five different alarms and sleep through every one of them. Maybe I should look for a job product-testing alarm clocks. Luckily these days I don’t have any reason to set an alarm unless it’s a dive day. Otherwise I roll out of bed around ten. I know, life’s rough.

12:00 PM

Normally we’ll cook breakfast at any hour of the day, but Fletch and I have both been craving pizza for the past two weeks, so we finally cave and head over to Drop Off Bar & Grill where they have a descent, overpriced, vegetarian pizza. That’s about as delectable as the food gets in Palau.

As we walk out the door, collecting our phones and wallets, we notice a text from Tanja and Stefan inviting us to go kayaking that is an hour old. We never heard the phone, otherwise this post could have been called A Little Thursday Kayaking. Add ringtone testing to alarm clock testing.

12:30 PM

While we wait for one medium vegetarian pizza to arrive, Fletch and I decide that if we have the same ringtone, maybe we’ll be more likely to hear our phones. I’m sure the rest of the bar loved hearing the entire selection of iPhone ringtone options. We settle for the quacking ducks. There aren’t any ducks in Palau. Those should get our attention. Quack. Quack.

1:15 PM

We decide to grab a couple of beers and drive to the point of Malakal to see if we spot Tanja and Stefan out kayaking. They are nowhere to be seen, just a killer top current that they will have to fight on their way back. We get back in the car and drive to Payless to check out their new shelves. That is the latest excitement in Palau. Payless installed new shelves.

1:40 PM

Payless is one of three grocery stores in Palau. Their food, ironically, is more expensive then the other two stores. But they always have a random selection of tents and fans and popcorn poppers and other random stuff you didn’t realize you needed until you saw it for pretty cheap. They also have the best produce and cheese selections, which isn’t saying a lot.

I find miniature corn cobs, the first time I’ve found non-frozen corn in Palau. Win.

I also find a new shipment of goat cheese sitting on a shelf on the refrigerated wall. Shipments of goat cheese to Payless are few and far between so we buy out the entire stock. Win.

2:00 PM

We stop at WCTC on the way home, one of the other three grocery stores, to pick up a few other things. They are celebrating their anniversary with scratch cards and prizes. On our way out of the store we hand our receipt to the lady at the prize table, and trade it in for a scratch card. I scratch the little silver square and the letters SOAP magically appear. The lady hands me my new bar of soap with a laugh. The box is all in Japanese. I can make out the word “pretty,” but none of the kanji that says weather or not there’s whitening bleach in it. These are things you need to watch out for when buying (or winning) any Asian beauty product. They all contain bleach to whiten your skin. Soaps, sunscreens, foundations,… Bleach, bleach bleach. While Americans are all using bronzers to look like oompa loompas, Asians are chemically treating their skin to look like the pastiest versions of us. It’s great.

2:30 PM

We’ve been on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer kick. I’m hooked. Fletch told me I would be. I’m living in tropical paradise on the opposite side of the world and spending my days binge watching 90s TV series. Don’t judge me.

3:30 PM

One episode later I make a beeline for the TV stand and grab the jigsaw puzzle we brought from home.

While I was visiting Colorado, my mom came up with the brilliantly awful idea for the two of us to put together a puzzle. I rolled my eyes and begrudgingly said that sounded like fun. Then I was quite embarrassed to discover that I was indeed having a lot of fun. More fun then my mom, who got distracted by Netflix while I put most of it together. Then my cat Chester swatted half of it to the floor and used the other half as his new favorite napping spot. So I bought a new puzzle at Barnes and Noble, one with a clockwork jellyfish and some biological fish on it, and brought it to Palau. Now it’s Fletch’s turn to roll his eyes.

6:00 PM

With the frame, a large green fish, and several tiger-striped goldfish complete, Fletch gets up to check his phone. There is an hour-old message from Stefan that they’ve been at Sam’s saying goodbye to everyone. The duck ringtone failed. We hurry out the door.



6:30 PM

It’s Stefan and Tanja’s last night in Palau. They are off to the Maldives. Such is the life of a dive bum, on from one pretty beach to the next, but it never gets any easier to say goodbye to those who leave or those you are leaving behind. They have pizzas and beers there for everyone while they say their goodbyes.

8:45 PM

As people begin to trickle away for the night, OJ, one of the local boys, convinces the guys that it’s time to have a guys' night to make up for all the ladies’ nights we’ve had. He wants to take Stephan to a karaoke bar. Now in Palau, karaoke bars are that, but they are mostly just covers for whore houses. Drive by any karaoke bar here late at night and there are usually a few scantily clad, Filipino girls sitting out front.

Unfortunately, OJ can’t find enough guys to join him, so he desperately opens up the invitation to everyone, and that’s how OJ, Stefan, Tanja, Ali, Fletch, and I all end up heading over to a karaoke bar.

9:00 PM

We drive down a dodgy alley, of course all of the roads in Palau off of the main road look like dodgy alleys at night time, and up to an ugly, multi-story pink building that looks a little bit like the ugly, pink building we live in. There’s some sort of dingy restaurant on the ground level, which OJ pokes his head into and says something in Palauan, then we all head up a staircase around the side. We reach the second level and walk onto a balcony where a manager-esque man is sitting with two girls in homecoming dresses. We walk past them and into a large empty space with cushy, moth-eaten booths lining one wall, a stage in the middle, and a bar at the far end. Oh and did I mention that it is empty? There are two girls behind the bar and it feels as though they are the only ones who have been in here for weeks.

9:15 PM

We apprehensively approach the bar, all the while Ali is making squelching noises with her mouth and pretending her feet are sticking to the floor. The air even feels sticky. We order two buckets of beer. Probably not nearly enough to make this place seem any less grimy.

9:25 PM

We find a row of bar stools lining the stage and two buckets of beer cans arrive with a disclaimer that they are not cold. The lady asks if we want glasses of ice. We just laugh. And laugh. And suddenly the whole scenario of sitting in an empty hooker bar that only has warm beers to serve us is way funnier than it should be. The microphone arrives, and before we know what’s happening, OJ is belting out a playlist he obviously comes here for a lot.

9:35PM

Fletch goes out to the car to bring in cold beers. Yes, our car is a better-stocked bar than the overpriced bar is. Welcome to Palau.

9:45 PM

None of the music videos on the screen match up with the songs. Every other song is accompanied by an anime video of some cartoon girls doing DDR steps. Rihanna’s Diamonds has a couple of guys rapping in the background.

9:55 PM

Ed Sheeran comes on and Fletch takes the microphone and proceeds to serenade me so lovingly and sweetly that I almost forget where we’re at. Until the song ends and I realize that oh yeah, my boyfriend just serenaded me in a whore house. 

10:05 PM

A line of Asian men file in and and disappear down a side hallway.

10:15 PM

A line of girls in short, satin dresses file in and disappear down the same side hallway.

10:25 PM

Fletch goes to search for the bathroom (down the side hallway), hoping to accidentally find a show behind a cracked door. He returns with news that there is a cracked door all right, but it is a room full of Asian men all singing karaoke together. No girls to be found.

Later

I never thought there could be enough beer in the world to get me to sing karaoke, but I do it. Lady Gaga finds its way out of my mouth and into the microphone and embarrassingly loudly out of the speakers, and OJ and Stepan are dancing on the stage. Enough said.