It was a glorious Pacific day— with green muffin top mini islands dotting the blue sea, blue for miles.Â Baklai Temengil and I sped across the modern span bridges that link Palauâ€™s most populated islands.
Baklai Temengil is Palauâ€™s Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs, and we were heading to one of the countryâ€™s most important cultural events, a first birth ceremony, where I would be meeting much of her extended family.Â She and her husband, Tutii Chilton, drew a vivid picture of changing times on Palau as we made our way to the party.
Temengil noted that Palauan lives are still rooted in nature, but what does that mean?Â Twentieth century people canâ€™t even imagine it.
She said, for example, when her uncle sees a certain flower blooming, he knows what kind of fish are spawning, or if certain birds are eating certain flowers, they know which fish are in season.Â Crucial knowledge since most Palauans do still supplement their diet by fishing, farming, or gathering.
In addition, births are timed to coincide with the incoming tide, and deaths occur when the tide is going out.Â Temengil says, building a new house, launching a business, thereâ€™s a time and tide for all that.Â And thereâ€™s continuity, too.Â Traditions rooted in nature have shaped Palauan life for hundreds of years.