“The taro plant is important to the Palauan people,” explained Ann Singeo, our guide, and owner of Sense of Wonder eco tours. ” The legend of Palau is based on food. A simple version of the legend has it that a giant by the name of Uab was consuming all the food so the rest of the people were starving. The villagers placed him on a fire, he exploded, creating the islands of Palau.” Palau is an amazing group of islands and one of the most eco of all locations we have visited.
Before we set out on our kayak tour of the mangrove, Spis, our other guide picked a sprouting coconut off the ground and split it. The white part had become spongy and Ann suggested we slather it on our exposed body parts, “It will keep away the mosquitoes and prevent sunburn.” Deep in the mangrove we pulled our kayaks up on land and a short hike took us to a where Ann explained another Palauan legend. The taro goddess brought back samples from the taro patches she had created on the various islands. Pointing to upright stones, Ann said that they were the taro plants planted by the goddess, which had turned to stone. We were totally unfamiliar with taro, a root that is an important source of food for Palauns. The taro patches are the exclusive domain of women probably because they have to wade in deep mud, sometime above their waist, to harvest the plants so they often work nude. At the end of the tour Ann had prepared a lunch that included taro soup and taro salad.
The Rock Islands of Palau is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. John and I were dazzled by the brilliant blue starfish ad the giant clams but the most amazing experience was swimming with thousands of jellyfish, which are virtually stingless. On our return from a snorkeling tour with Fish ‘n Fins the talk turned to food. Tova Harel, the owner of Fish n’ Fins, said if we returned for dinner she and Cesar, her chef, would show us how to prepare fish and some taro recipes. It was an offer we could not refuse.
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