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Brooke Williams explores eco-tourism on Palmyra and what future plans are in store for The Nature Conservancy.

At night the mantas come inshore to feed on the plankton attracted by the lights of the camp.
©Franklin Viola

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Live Expedition - Daily Journal
May 19th, 2001

by Terry Tempest Williams

"Be gathered now ye waters under heav'n,
Into one place, and let dry land appear."

Paradise Lost
John Milton

This morning, I walked out of our tent, lathered up my soap, and showered. It is raining. It has been raining since about eleven o'clock last night. This is not a rain heard or calculated drop by drop as in the desert, but a rain so confident and bold it drowns out any thought of dry on the island. The sound of rain has even replaced the cries of the sooty terns.

All night, safe within our tents, we listened to the rain, watched flashes of light over the Pacific, then waited for the thunder that inevitably followed.

Flash! Count: one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four - roar, growl, bellow, the rolling thunder review begins.

Over and over again, I repeated the ritual of counting thunder that recalled the comfort of my childhood during storms.

Palmyra has an average rainfall of 175 inches annually. Rain in the South Pacific is a daily invocation. Located within an area of the equatorial Pacific known as the "Intertropical Convergence Zone" or ITCZ, Palmyra is situated in an area of weak and capricious winds between the northeast and southeast trade wind systems often referred to as the "doldrums." As the air masses meet, the air rises, becomes cooled, and drops its moisture in the form of rain.

This rain, however, is not just a momentary squall, but appears to be a front moving through with low-lying and thick, gray clouds. Today, we are just going with it, if not soaked, then damp to our bones, but happy. Big weather, anywhere, slows us down, invites us to reflect and contemplate with our hands wrapped around hot cups of tea. We can read, talk, nap, and in Jim Maragos' case, sing.

Jeff is framing palm leaves with his camera, taking advantage of dripping vegetation in rain. Daria is soaking her finger. Brooke is wandering the wrack lines seeing what the tide has left. Yvon is reading People magazine, waiting until he can go fishing again, amused that Laura Bush is listed as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World."

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