TBT - (1992) "Adventures in Paradise: Part 1 - Yap"

The year was 1992 and we had just gone through a horrific storm in Miami - Hurricane Andrew on August 24. We had planned our September vacation well in advance of Andrew and did not want to forego our trip to remote Pacific islands because of the storm's aftermath - so off we went, from the frying pan to the fire. Getting on the flight from San Francisco to Honolulu on September 11th we were told just before landing that Hurricane Iniki was about to hit the islands (the most powerful to ever hit Hawaii) and that we would be guided directly off our plane and on to another - the last flight out before the storm closes down the airport.

We were still rattled from the Andrew experience, so being whisked through the all but deserted Honolulu airport and taking off immediately over the storm tossed bay felt like we were being chased by a curse from the storm gods. Then when we arrived in Guam - that island was a shambles and without power from the recent Typhoon Omar! No air conditioned hotel or iced drinks. Like a bad camping trip!

The next day we took off for the fabled island of Yap to dive with the huge schools of Manta Rays that pass through the shallow inter-island channels. One of the more fascinating movies of my youth was ' His Majesty O'Keefe' - the story of a 19th century shipwrecked sailor/entrepreneur on this unique Micronesian island with the giant stone money - the world's largest 'coins'. So given the opportunity to stop there on a dive vacation trip to Palau was a dream come true.

When we got off the plane and walked into Yap's new airport I was impressed by the blood red concrete floor - thinking they wanted new arrivals in Yap to feel like VIPs. Then I saw several signs inside and just outside the airport building prohibiting the chewing of betel nuts. Knowing that betel nut chewers spit and drool a lot of bright red juice - well I then realized the wisdom of red floors on that island! But the real shocker was seeing all the bare breasted native women walking around in public paces - a worthy tradition in my view. Oh - and the diving with the Manta Rays was fantastic too. Maybe we did finally find paradise?!

To be continued . . .