After coming down the Tamilyog trail, we make a right turn, and walk the road towards the north. The road turns out to be in perfect condition, there are modern houses with modern cars parked in front of them, well-kept lawns, and at times, I feel like walking in a suburb of a town in the US. In the end, we arrive at a clearing in the forest, in which we find an impressive men's house. Two men sitting in what looks like a bus stop invite us in, ask us to sit down, and before we know it, one of them has climbed one of the trees next to the shack and hands us over two coconuts. After the hiking we have done, we gladly accept, and drink the precious and nutritious water. After some small talk with the guys, we realize we have arrived at Okeu: a typhoon has destroyed the old men's house in the village, and the one we are seeing now, is the new one. Typhoon proof, perhaps, but not using traditional construction materials: only the shape of the building is vintage Yapese meeting house. We walk a narrow stone trail through the village, with a creek on our left, until we reach a stone platform in the forest.
We have arrived at the stone money bank of Okeu. There is no one around, and we soon realize that the bank is bigger than it looks at first sight. There is one lane with more than 20 disks of stone money, all leaning against trees on both sides of the lane. The smaller ones are placed at the ends, while the ones in the middle are very big. We stand next to the disks, behind it, posing for pictures, but also to inspect the thickness of the disks. Again, we marvel not only at the craft of carving these disks out of the limestone quarries on the faraway island of Palau, but also the daring voyage of the sailors who transported these massive disks across the waves of the Pacific to Yap. Walking around the bank, we find some disks covered by moss, giving them an especially photogenic look. Some of the disks have cracks in them or are completely broken in several parts.
There are some more disks at the other side of the small creek, but this section is very small compared to the one with the long lane full of stone money disks. It is time to check that out again: the rectangular stone platform has vertical slabs of stone standing on top of it. We would learn later that these were used as seats and are mere back supports against which the leaders could rest while having a meeting about village affairs. It is difficult to imagine how these meetings would look like: there is not a soul around, and there is almost total silence around the stone money bank of Okeu. The only living creature we discover is a small frog which does not show any fear, or perhaps is very confident its camouflage will protect it. For a last time, we walk to the row of stone money again, to the far ends. This place has a mystical feel: the moss-covered stones, the silence, the air seems to breath history that is stuck below the bright green trees. It is getting dark, and time to head back to town. When we reach the new men's house again, one of the guys offers to take us in his van on an old road.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Okeu stone money bank (Federated States of Micronesia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Okeu stone money bank. Read more about this site.