I got up early - big surprise after falling asleep so early last night - and almost got through sorting nearly a weeks worth of photos by the time the others got up. After breakfast we took advantage of the rental car and picked up our gear from the dive shop. Our rental agreement included a clause that they could charge us $25 if we returned it "excessively dirty" - we couldn't quite decide if it was excessively dirty so we decided to play it safe and have it washed. While we were washing it we realized that the car would be pretty convenient to have for an extra hour or more, so I called to see what it would cost - actually I just asked if we could turn it in a bit late and they said yes.
Simon and Eileen had referred us to some friends of theirs that were running the Coral Reef Research Center and last night we had (finally)made arrangements to see their facilities. The center is mostly funded by the US National Cancer Research Institute - it turns out that about 30 percent of all marine invertebrates contain compounds that have anti-cancer properties. So CRRC collects samples of soft corals, sponges, nudibranchs, etc to send to the US for testing. They've sent in more than 8,000 organisms back to the US for testing - Including a couple hundred completely new species. The center was actually a lot more interesting that I expected. Pat Collins showed us around - the sample room was very impressive - there are samples of all 8,000 CRRC organisms, plus several more that weren't sent in. He's an amazing guy - builds his own camera housings, rebreathers (allowing a diver to go to depths up to 500 feet!), and even an ultra-light airplane.
After I dropped the car off Sue went to say goodbye to some friends, Stacy got her hair cut off and I went to the internet cafe. In the end we ended up in a big rush to pack and say goodbye - Todd even interrupted his week of retreat (and silence) to say goodbye. The airport was pretty much deserted and there was no line for anything. A little annoying that we got forced through security over an hour early (rumor was that they wanted to go home early), but were then surprised when the plane actually took off ten minutes early! The flight was very short - about twenty minutes - and we were in Yap, back in the FSM. After coming through immigration there was a young man and woman waiting to greet everyone with a marmar (flower head piece) in traditional clothes - these don't cover much. There was someone from the hotel waiting for us and we were quickly at the hotel. The hotel was kind of funny - very small room paneled in dark wood, three very small beds with very very soft foam mattresses, and a Japanese bathroom unit - all with almost no space to stand. It felt like a weird cabin. But there was AC and a fridge and it was reasonably comfortable. We went with another American guy that was on our flight to search for a beer. It's are only Saturday night in Yap, so we though we should get a look around. Colonia was deserted and nothing was open. Even the hotel bars were closed! Apparently everything is closed by ten.