Sunday, March 22, 2009

Peleliu: Day 1

I am sitting in my “hotel” room, waiting for breakfast. My body hurts, I am exhausted, but am having an awesome time here on Peleliu. I had been told countless times that Peleliu would be practically untouched and would contain lots of “stuff” to see. It is unbelievable how much is here.

We arrived on the island somewhere around 9ish (although I didn’t have my watch- we function on island time here, anyway). We dropped off our bags to our various “hotels” and homes where we were staying, lathered up in sunscreen and bugspray, loaded the bus, then started off on our first day’s adventure. Man! Each stop only got better. We had to (and will have to continue to) trek carefully through the jungle to avoid stepping on the land crabs and live ammunition that are scattered around. We saw tanks, LVTs, bunkers, a crashed airplane, the power plant for the island, and the administration building. We had time to digest what we were seeing, unlike our trip to Iwo, and absorb what all of these artifacts meant. We also stopped at the 81st Army monument; that was the unit that one of my great-great uncles fought with. That plunged me deep into thought and I wondered what he saw when he fought his way into the island. All I know is he was shot in the knee here.

We stopped at a small cave with some mess kits, canteens, a few rounds, and the remains of a Japanese soldier. That was a little intense. Today we are supposed to head up to the ridge with a lot of caves to explore like that. There is no telling what we will find in each of these caves. I am a little nervous about that, actually. I don’t know how well I handle caves. It’s all mental, it’s all mental, it’s all mental. On top of the caves being small, dark spaces, there are cave crickets. Unless you are my family, you won’t understand why that is a big deal, but I did have an internal freak-out session when I saw those. I am getting the heeby-jeebies now just thinking about those.

Those who know me will applaud my lack of OCD on this trip. I didn’t wash my hands almost all day and kept leaving my hand sanitizer on the bus. I was a big, brave girl, covered in dirt, sweat, and sand, and kept pushing through the jungle. I think I will take 14 showers upon my arrival to Murfreesboro.

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