Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Things Gilligan Never Told Us

So today we traveled on a little skiff to the little island across the little channel: Ngegebus. If you have read E. B. Sledge's book, With the Old Breed, you know what I am talking about. We went, in fact, to see Sledge's bunker. The trip was exhausting and remarkable all at the same time. 

We had to be accompanied by Lorraine, a native whose family basically owns the island. She agreed to take us over then escort us around. For 97 lbs, she certainly was a ball of energy. She had us marching all over that island chewing her beetlenut chaw (not a pleasant habit...). She also held no punches. At one point we stopped to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. She turned to some of our guys and said "you guys too fat." What? What did she just say? We looked at her quizzically and she repeated, "You guys too fat. Breathe heavy. Not healthy. Go on diet." I near about died laughing, though the guys didn't really appreciate it. Later, she pointed off the trail and said, "Couple Japanese bunkers over there. We not stop. Old guy too slow." (The "old guy" was our tour leader, John Edwards...). 

We continued to march over rotting coconuts and marshy, low-tide land (NOT a good smell), fighting off the bugs. She pointed out the areas where crocodiles supposedly lived. Evidently there is debate about the real location of the E. B. Sledge bunker, so we visited both sites. Either way, it was cool to see those sites. We also saw wreckage and guns and a few caves. And a marijuana farm. What? What did I just read? Did she say marijuana farm? Yes, that is correct. Lorraine needed to check up on her plants, so she marched us along a path that would take us to her plants (as long as we didn't touch or take pictures) so she could water them. Kill two birds with one stone, right? 

We boated back over to Peleliu mid-afternoon (I still am not wearing my watch).  We saw more caves and guns and wreckage. It is a little overwhelming at times. 

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