Visiting the Yap Outer Islands
Yap State is a quiet sort of place. Even in the capital, Colonia, the handful of main roads stay empty under the tropical sun for most of the day. Every once in a while a US Navy ship stops into town to re-supply or a canoe race is organized in the main harbor, but for most of the year life just goes slowly on.
If the capital is somewhat quiet, though, life in the Outer Islands is even more so. Aside from the twice-monthly Field Trip Ship, which visits the Ulithi Atoll with essential supplies like foodstuffs and construction equipment, the only access is by Pacific Missionary Aviation charter flights.
At the main island of the Ulitihi Atoll, Fallalop (pictured here), the Yap State Field Trip Ship Halimpmohol docks for several hours while cargo is slowly unloaded from there to the beach via small motorboats. After spending a full afternoon, night, and morning to get from Colonia to Fallalop the time actually spent on the island doesn’t feel like enough for exploring. After poking around the village for a while, wandering through the beachfront high school, and offering to help with the unloading the ship horn has already sounded and its time to head back out to sea and on to the next port.
The Halipmohol travels further from here, to Fais and Eauripik and occasionally Woleai. Each of these chains of islands, progressively more distant from the capital of Yap, grow more culturally isolated with that distance.
Life on board the Halipmohol for the trip to the Outer Islands is equal parts relaxing and boring, depending mostly on the other passengers and how long it is until mess time. With good folks and (mostly not awesome) food far away, conversations flow as quickly as the waves. Late at night after another mushy dinner, though, time seems to stretch all the way to the horizon.
Have you visited Oceania and the Pacific? How did it compare to the Yap Outer Islands?