2009 BentProp Progress Report # 19

P-MAN XI Update #19 - Doyle shows Katie and Wil how to eat fruit bat
06 March 2009

In a last dramatic act of bravery before he leaves Palau tonight, Wil actually eats some of Katie's fruit-bat soup. He and Katie are then taken to school on fruit-bat eating by Doyle.

Our old friend from Ngiwal, in our third (or maybe fourth) interview with him, spins some more tales of life during the war.

- Reid

From Molly

05 March

Today we all went up to Ngiwal to do an interview with an elder again that Paul and Pat interviewed yesterday (we all fit into one van which is quite depressing...I am going through withdrawal: still missing teammates). It was a long interview but we got some good information on a possible mia/plane crash and the elder was able to show us some areas off the road where we should search. The land team will investigate this, hopefully tommorrow, and it's going to be exciting to hear what they may find (I'll be on the water again with SSS).

Then we went farther north to Ngardmau State to conduct another interview with an elder who lived during the war and worked for the Japanese. This was the first interview that I conducted and it was a great experience. (of course Joe did the translating). This elder wasn't able to give any specifics on any crashes, or MIAs since he was sent up northwest like most Palauans during the war and did not see much of the war per se. He did see American airplanes in the air many times, and did see an American airplane shot down but it was too far away to give any details. It was interesting to listen to the elder tell some of his experiences before the war (worked for the missionaries, then a pineapple plant) and then how he was moved up north away from his home during the war where life was hard and food was scarce. They fished and gathered taro at night and ate berries from the jungle for food. Times where tough.

Well tonight was Wil's last night and we went to Carp. Katie was really brave and ordered fruit bat soup and both Wil and Katie ate it!!! I stayed focused on my coconut crab entree. My turn at fruit bat will come and watching those two eat it gave me confidence that I will be able to make it. :) Esther and Doyle joined us too, and Doyle ate that bat right up!!! Like father, like son! :)

Wil - obviously enjoying Katie's fruit-bat soup. You can just hear him saying

With Esther looking on, Doyle shows 'em how you REALLY eat fruit bat.

06 March

Sleepy now...but split ops again...I was on water today doing SSS with NOT much success but we got to dive another Japanese wreck after much frustration. The land group followed up on the information given by the first elder yesterday and have some good areas for possibilities for further searching.

From Flip

5 March

Today we were a single group. Our goal was sleep in (for me, to at least 0530 would be nice), have breakfast and go out and re-interview the Ngiwal elder and possibly hike the forest based on his story. Then head north and find more elders whom we haven't spoken with.

Also, my goal was to get you some photos. I have been a little remiss and I aim to rectify that. Hopefully, I have. I just transferred the photos into my computer and will review shortly.

Our group is down to seven folks now that Mark and Warren have left. We still need two vans to move our group around. Wil leaves tonight but is heading out with us for one final day. He was a smart man and took his off day for shopping a few days ago. Tomorrow, we'll turn in the rental van and be down to one set of wheels for the remainder of the trip.

We headed north along the Compact Road and it is still amazing not to see construction crews. We passed the capitol building and got to the beautiful coastal village of Ngiwal. Through the school parking lot, down the parallel side road and into the Chief's drive.


He was happy to see us all again and happy to chat with us. This became one of the longest interviews we've ever done. He dredged up more memories than in the previous interviews: a story about a plane shot down outside the reef, a Navy flyer buried along the road, and stories of Japanese records and ammunition storage sites in the jungle.

When he was done talking, he led us to where he thinks we will find “bones” in the forest. He didn't leave the van as he is too old to hike the jungle anymore, but he did point. At one of his stops, Paul jumped out, went 50 up the old road, turned left into the jungle, and found a depression. Might be nothing. But how did Paul turn left into the jungle and find that depression so fast? We will have to revisit this place.

We went to a few more places that the elder pointed out to us and then dropped him off at home. We had lunch from the local store which consisted of microwaved hotdogs, Sun Chips and Pringles.

Then we headed up north to visit with another elder. Although the war years were tough on his family, he was not subjected to a forced evacuation as so many other Palauans were. He worked as a laborer for the Japanese hauling concrete and building lighthouses. After the war he became a teacher and also developed a wood carving business. Now he has a helper who he has taught how to carve. He gave us interesting stories about his time during the war, but no real leads for what we are doing out here.



Back home, we cleaned up and went out to dinner. A new tradition has been established at BentProp. The person who is leaving that night gets to choose where the group eats and doesn't have to chip in for it. We close their account earlier in the day as far as group expenses go. Wil chose Carp Restaurant as he wanted fruit bat soup. He spoke about it all day long. However, as the time drew near, he -- how shall I say this -- demurred. When we told him he did not have to eat fruit bat soup and no one would think the less of him, he was happy again with Carp.

Katie did order the fruit bat soup and we all had some. Wil, still protesting, ate the brains and loved it. Tasted some of the meat and loved it. Looked at the furry skin and said “Absolutley no way!”

Esther joined us for dinner with her son Doyle. Doyle loves fruit bat soup and put us all to shame. I broke down and had some as well. For the first time ever. I only had a small piece but it was challenging. I had the tongue. Hmmmmm good.

I am actually still waiting for my main course. Everyone heard me order Tonkatsu (pork cutlet dish) and it never arrived. Even after we reminded the waitron. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

And that was our fun filled night. Tomorrow will be another split ops day. Some of us on the boat and others in the jungle. We will turn in the rental van, get some more groceries and start winding down our grand adventure out here. For once, I'll be the last to leave so I will be able to report on the conclusion of P-MAN XI.


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