Yap, Yap, Yap
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Ongoing
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Our biggest reason for visiting Yap was probably to confuse our geographically challenged friend, Deb P, who is convinced that the only country west of Hawaii is Japan; her paint-by-numbers atlas likely isn't going to help her find Yap (and to be fair Yap isn't really a country on it's own but is part of the Federated States of Micronesia- FSM- along with Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Chuuk (formerly Truk)- 607 islands in total). Yap is arguably the most well known of the islands because of spectacular dive sites and stone money but it is still largely ignored- Yap hosts less than 5,000 tourists a year (primarily divers) which is dwarfed by the 150,000 that visit the big brother island of Palau
The second reason for visiting Yap was to pay tribute to a country that names itself Yap, a sound, when repeated quickly, I had previously associated only with heavy gossip sessions between DH and her girlfriends.
The third reason, of course, was to feed DH's insatiable diving appetite. Our first day in Colonia was a Sunday and there was either a tsunami warning we weren't aware of, or Sunday, as a day of rest, is taken very literally with no one moving much beyond the confines of their hammock. We wandered through this ghost town (in about 20 minutes) until DH spotted what she was looking for- a dive shop! We then met with Jan, the Yap Divers manager, and after DH subtlety mentioned that she was a nervous diver (about 15 times!!), Jan worked hard to set us up with a super-floatie boat, a BCD with attached water wings, and a dive master who had an enviable track record of limited fatalities on his watch.
Our waitress at breakfast had warned us that what we had experienced on Sunday was an anomaly and that the traffic on our dive day would be "crazy"- she was right- there must have been 10, maybe eleven vehicles jamming the streets of Colonia (if this poor girl ever finds herself on the streets of nearby Manila- a place that invented really crazy traffic- I suspect that her head might explode)
This was really the first dive that DH or I had done where we really didn’t do much more than sink to the bottom and watch marine life pass us by. When I say marine life, I really mean Manta Rays- there were hundreds of them… or at least ten that kept circling around us and through the cleaning station area (there were a lot of very colourful fish trying to distract us- one even attacked DH with all the fury a puffed up goldfish type could muster but the Mantas were the stars of this show). These strange looking creatures with wingspans (does a fish have wings?) ranging from 8’ to 12’ seemed to glide effortlessly in and out of our sightlines- ghostly aliens might be a good description. And apparently when you just sink, sit, and stare you don’t burn much air so we put in a fairly impressive 71 minutes of Ray watching before our dive master started ringing his recess-is-over bell and we headed back up. I suggested earlier that this was one of our easier dives, and it really was, but DH surfaced with a number of self-diagnosed injuries including Manta Ray Neck (from looking up for so long), Regulator Jaw (from biting down so hard and long on her mouthpiece- presumably in case I tried to share air again), and Flipper Foot (although to be fair this ankle tendon injury really happened in Palau when swimming against the strong current)
And speaking of fish teeth, our next dive was shark overload. They were in front, behind, above, and below us- these rows of teeth with fin attachments were Grey Reef and Black Tip Sharks, not their more famous man-eating cousins, but too many viewings of the movie Jaws had me thinking that these bad boys were snarling at us as they circled trying to determine the weakest link. DH had already self-selected and was trying to stay in the centre of our small group- she panicked when I momentarily drifted out of sight- I thought it was out of concern but apparently I was supposed to be her buffer for any frontal attacks. She was convinced that it would just take one that wasn’t wired properly and the feeding frenzy would start. As we were carried by the current along the reef, this dive seemed like a surreal Sea World Aquarium viewing of bigger marine life except that we were inside the aquarium. Two of the best dives we’ve ever done and even DH recommends Yap as a must-do destination for dive fanatics.
The other claim to fame for Yap is their Stone Money and we spent our final day seeking out the Stone Money Banks that were scattered about the island