Things started and stayed better beginning with our first day of diving,
First, we got to pick out departure time for the dives. We picked 10 am for the first dive. Then the menu for the box lunches looked more like a restaurant menu than a box lunch menu. The crew picked us up and carried us to the dive shop and the boat. For the rest of the week we boarded at our hotel pier.
Dive one was at Oolong Sand Bar. There were more soft corals on this dive then I have ever seen anywhere. Dense, dense, dense. And in great shape. The corals looked extremely healthy. As we moved along we saw more and more fish. The fish life was also dense. There were fish of every type and description. Easily 70 to 100 different species on each dive. Not just a few, but schools and schools of fish. In a square foot we could see 8 to 40 different types of coral. The fish looked similar but different. More brilliant colors, a longer tails and fins, bigger. More variation in coral and fish life than anywhere else, by far. The highlight of this dive was a group of baby shark hiding in the coral. Cute at that age.
Dive two was nearby at Oolong Wall. Our first wall, it was a spectacular one. Now we had a vertical coral and massive numbers of fish as we swam along the wall. Every color coral color combination imaginable. Every time you'd look up there was a new species of fish or coral
In between dives we had lunch and moved locations. The lunch boxes were really quite good. A meat, salad, rice, vegetables, and a little chocolate chewy. Much better than expected. The best part was the huge grins on everyone's face
Palau 2016 - The beginning
Sometimes nothing goes right. So starts our trip to Palau.
Schedule: United from Charlotte to Houston to Honolulu to Guam to Palau.
We arrive at the airport at 4:20 in the morning, 2 hours before our flight. We checked in the night before so it's off to get our boarding passes. Wrong. Our flight has been delayed due to mechanical problems. Delayed 1 hour, delayed 1 1/2 hours, delayed 11 hours; in that time they could build a new plane. Problem, missing this flight throws off the whole schedule. Ok, what's plan B? Transfer to American Airlines. They have a flight that will get us back on schedule in Houston.
Our United agent leaps into action and rebooks us on American. It's a close connection but will get us back on United at the next stop and back on schedule. Go to American Airlines and stand in line (with our American Airlines confirmation number) for about 40 minutes. Present our AA confirmation number to the agent and all looks good. Wait, there's a problem. Because of the close connection an AA supervisor has to give the OK, agent says he'll be right back. Uh-Oh. Yep, the AA supervisor won't approve our 30 minute connecting time between flights. AA won't let us go. Apparently it's OK for American to schedule a 30 minute connection (they've done it to me) but not for someone else to do it.
Back to United. Our agent works feverishly and comes up with Plan C. Book us on Delta. But now we are to go Charlotte to Cincinnati to Seattle to Tokyo to Guam. Then back on United to get to Palau. But we'll get to Guam too late for our flight to Palau and have to overnight. Oh well. Off to the Delta gate. Seats assigned and starting to relax. Oh No! Flight delayed! 20 minute delay. Still ok. Then an hour. Then, it ain't gonna happen. Plane stuck somewhere else, another mechanical delay. Re-book time. Looks like they'll have to split us up and may not all go same day. Wait, can get us our together but it will be tomorrow. Arrrgh.
Quick, I go back to United front desk. But, to be safe, I make sure I can get back in security area. Yep, no problem says the guard. United agent looks at me and cant believe I'm back. Tell her the problem, can they help? She goes to work on her computer. Sorry, Delta has re-booked us and United can't override. Oh well, off to security. Wait, the Delta agent at the gate still has my boarding pass. Quick, back to the Delta desk. The Delta agent looks up and can't believe I'm back. Tell him the problem. He prints a new pass and a Delta supervisor walks me to the front of the security line. Thanks.
TSA scans my pass and alarms go off. According to the computer I've already passed through security. This me must be an imposter. Off I go, first the metal detector and then the body scanner. Pass both. Next the "massage," aka TSA pat down. Looks good. Chem tests on my carry on. Looks good. No wait, let's do them again. Another pat down, another chem test. Pass both. But now I'm on "The List" with TSA. Say goodbye to my PreCheck status.
Back to the Delta gate. Have to go get our bags and hotel. Down to baggage claim. Same Delta agent from check-in is covering bags. "You're back AGAIN?" He gets our bags brought down and gets us hotel vouchers. Thank You.
Next day, here I go again. Told you I was on the TSA List. Another metal detector, another body scan, another pat down, and another chemo test. Even the TSA guys know me by site. By the way, they were really nice about it all. Knew what had happened but said they had no choice. I'd rather have them be thorough. Things are getting better, only one pat down. ...we take off. No mechanical delays. Just long flights.
Overnight in Guam then off to Palau. Hooray, I've got my PreCheck back. No pat downs. Ready to board once we convinced everyone that we really did not have our tickets yet, even though the computer said they had been printed.
Land in Palau. There are people waiting to pick us up. Life is good. What do we want for lunch on the boat? What time do you want to go out? We'll carry your bags to your room. Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Arrived at Palau Pacific Resort, at last. Smiles on our faces.
Tomorrow - more smiles on our faces