Taylan’s Battle to Protect War Relics

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Recent Taylan Interviews

LISTEN to ABC Radio International Battle For Ballale interview (Nov 19, 08)

LISTEN to ABC Radio International Lost planes, Lost Men (Feb 3, 08)

LISTEN to NPR interview: A Travel Nightmare (Dec 14, 07)

WATCH 7 Australia News coverage (Dec 16, 07)

READ Australia Network Focus Balalai (Dec 9, 07)

READ Air&Space Wisdom on Solomon (May 08)

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Diary of captivity in the Solomons [UPDATED]

Life in captivity

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About Justin Taylan

Taylan searches out World War II plane wrecks, safeguards human remains, and returns dog tags to surprised veterans.
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December 8, 2007 @ 2:57 pm PST

December 8

32nd day of captivity, T minus 4 days until court.

Storm clouds in the sky overnight, but we had no rain. This disappointed all of us. We are obsessed with rain — with making sure the hoses into the ship’s 3,000-liter freshwater tank are in place when it rains. Rainwater is free water! If our freshwater tank runs dry, we have to turn on the generator, using an even more precious liquid: fuel! A storm provides some excitement as it means running around to “dog the portholes” and make sure everything is inside — a welcome chore in our otherwise boring daily routine, “Watching barnacles grow on the hull,” as Rod put it.

So today, we remain on tight water procedure: showering with only soap to a wet body and a quick rinse, dishwashing with soapy water in one sink and rinse water in the other. Rod and I joke with Daisy: “I won’t shower today, so you’ll have enough water for dishes!” She insists, “No! Please wash!” Luckily, everyone’s sense of humor is still intact, and sense of smell, too, I guess.

Breakfast was the leftover rice from last night’s dinner. We ate it cold. I put some butter on it for extra fattening value, but everyone else thinks buttered rice is revolting. We also have another morning tradition — everyone steps on the scale and weighs himself. So far, I have lost six kilograms. Yoji has lost eight, and Rod five. Daisy does not participate in this ritual, saying, “Mi less! Muski lo force. Less you kisim mi!” (I don’t want to! Stop trying to convince me! Stop asking me!) The last time I pressed her, she took the scale away and threatened to throw it overboard. Rod laments, “She is always throwing things overboard when she is mad. I buy it, she makes it swim.” Later, she returned, laughing. “Did you hear the splash?” When we don’t bite at the joke, she says, “Well, I hid it instead.” We have until tomorrow to find it, and the weight-tracking game will go on.

Over the weekend, the “town” of Gizo is very quiet. Most of the stores are closed, as is the bank and telephone exchange. There is a wireless network, but it is sporadic at best, and has been down all week. Our only hope for sending messages it to go to Dive Gizo, which has its own internet connection. The same routines usually play out during the day. Yoji and I type on laptops. Daisy will comment on our typing speed, saying, “There go those fast hands!” When there is something to be done, usually Rod will pass by and ask, “You boys want to stop playing with your computers and help me?” but plays several dozen games of Spider Solitaire himself, every afternoon. Solitaire is an appropriate game, we all agree.

Every time someone asks for a favor, something like “Grab me a glass of water please,” someone else, usually Daisy, has to jest, “and when did your last slave die?” The joking rarely goes further than that. Yesterday, Rod joked with Daisy in response, saying, “You are our mother, wife, and girlfriend — you’re always nagging, woman!”

We got the silent treatment from her for the rest of the day.

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