P-MAN VII Update
Monday, 28 February
We had kind of hoped to arrange to use the SUV from Sam's today to head up to the north end of Babelthuap, but it wasn't available. Plan B wound up consuming the entire day.
We were able to arrange to use the vehicle tomorrow and Wednesday, so we also made a reservation to stay at a place at the north end of Babelthuap Tuesday night. We'll plan to do a bunch of interviewing of elders in villages up the west side of the island on Tuesday, and back down the east side on Wednesday.
Plan B involved catching up on a bunch of contacts that had been piling up.
We visited the Ibedul's office to get permission to visit his island on Thursday or Friday.
We visited the Historic Preservation Office (several times) to try to see Rita Ulsudong, but she never made it in to the office - she's out investigating a site and won't be back until later in the week.
We visited the office of the American Charge d'Affaires (a couple of times), but can't see her until Thursday.
We bought some flowers for Jennifer (her grandmother died yesterday) and delivered them to PPR.
We visited the Conservation office (several times) to talk to Madrei's brother Ben, but kept missing him.
We made brief contact with Abby, who may have some information for us later in the week.
We stopped by the office of Senator Surangel Whipps, but he can't see us until later in our visit.
While waiting for Ben to return to his office, Pat, Mike, Joe, and I visited the National Museum. There's a room upstairs that contains a big collection of Palauan storyboards. Joe knows all of the stories, so as we strolled around and looked at them he told us all of the corresponding stories in great detail. Joe is a MASTER storyteller! What a treat.
When we finally met up with Ben, he dragged several of his colleagues into our conversation, and it rapidly turned into a massive lead-gathering exercise that left us reeling. We got a lead on an old man who's still alive who reportedly saw the shooting down of the plane that wound up in the water by the causeway. We got a lead on a woman who may have information about POWs, but she reportedly presently has pinkeye (very contagious), so we'll wait till next week to approach her. We got a couple of leads on brothers who do a lot of fishing in the area and who may have seen some aircraft. We had a conversation with a man who gave us a story that's absolutely identical to the one told last week by the proprietor of Bem Ermii, about a piece of wreckage just east of Airai. We discovered that there's a wing or part of a wing that someone removed from the Airai FM2 site, and that presently resides in someone's yard in Airai. The man who took it died awhile ago, but his wife is still alive.
We finally headed home to try to digest what we'd heard, and to try to do some planning for the rest of the week.