Sep 8, 2007

CARP ISLAND, Palau – Before the typhoon, the sea and sky turn all dove-belly: pinks and blues and subtle greys. Our kayaks smear through the scene like Number Two pencils.

Palau's rock islands aren't a World Heritage site, but they should be. Over 400 in number, they resemble the mushroom clouds of nearby Bikini Atoll: limestone ring nubbins, Chia Pet crowns.

We beach, then scramble along the inlets, caves and cliffs. Rebar binds coconut shells into the stone: crab traps, Bronwyn reveals.

As we pick along the fern-shrouded shore, Steph solicits items for her magazine's section, "you know you're a travelgirl if..."

"... you have a little black dive dress," I suggest.

" ... you've eaten fruit bat more recently than fruit roll-up," Bronwyn adds.

"... you like to swim with creatures larger than your carryon," Steph volleys.

"... you'd rather see a sea snake than a trouser snake," I blurt, crumpled with laughter. Ever the wise editor, Steph intervenes.

"You know that's awesome. And you also know I can't run it."

"A lot of women would identif–"

"–Well, yeah. But think demographics."

I pout, until they cheer me up with pitcher plant and sea cucumber jokes. We have stumbled into a freakishly phallic patch of the rock islands.

And, well, sorry, but we make all the bad jokes men fear.

Maybe a sea snake isn't the most venomous creature after all?

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