Friday, February 20, 2009

Boat Trip Day 3 and 4

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

-Helen Keller

See photos from Boat Trip:

Boat Trip Day 3

Boat Trip Day 4

Day 3

We docked at a small island and hiked up the top of the mountain. It took some time getting used to the overwhelming beauty that lay before us. The mountains poking out of turquoise waters and clear blue skies serving as a backdrop to the stunning ocean scape that beckoned our eyeballs!

Much time was spent taking in the view until again we were torn away to go back to the boat.

Our next stop was Komodo National Park. We were told that no tourists had been killed by Komodo Dragons since the 70s but a villager was killed only a month prior. Was this supposed to be comforting?

We did our small hike around the island and no sign of Komodos but were told that we may have better luck at the next island – Rinca. We were really excited to find public restrooms with real toilets and running water. This was the first time any of us had seen ourselves in the mirror. I have to say, it was quite freeing not having a reflection of yourself to deal with – an excellent excuse to be au naturel and we were all in the 'same boat'.

Back on the boat, we made our way into a little cove just in time to watch the sun set behind the the large mounds surrounding us. Marj and I took this as an opportunity to go swimming. We were told to do so at our own risk as there is always a chance that Jaws could be lurking beneath. The water was deep and we were quite literally in the middle of nowhere but it was so much fun that we had little time to worry about it. I love Marj for always bringing out the little girl in me!

Day 4

I woke up the next morning and watched the sun rise. The sea was rough and the wind whipping. My hair blew all over my face and I laid their on the deck peering out to sea in complete bliss before anyone else awoke. I love being near, in or on the ocean and the experiences with her on this trip had been deep and memorable..I counted my many blessings. I thought of my mom and dad a lot on that boat because I was there only because of their unending support.

We were called to breakfast (banana fritters!) and set off for a hike around Rinca Island where we got a healthy dose of Komodo Dragons seriously getting down with their bad selves! Even if we hadn’t seen them, the island itself was uniquely beautiful – a landscape that I could not liken to any other.

Komodo Island National Park, a World Heritage Site, is 200 nautical miles east of Bali and is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores, all of which are part of Nusa Tenggara. About 3 to 5,000 Komodo dragons live on the islands of Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores. The species is in endangered status due to a lack of females for reproduction, human encroachment, natural disasters and of course poaching.

Komodos can live up to 50 years. The first 5 years of their lives are spent high up in a tree where their mother cares for them - after that they are on their own, spending most of their time solitary, until mating season arrives. Males outnumber females 4 to 1 (sounds much like Kuta!) come mating season - the women look a little worse for wear.

Komodos lie in wait for their prey camouflaged in the grass. When the unlucky victim wanders by, the dragon flings its serrated teeth and sharp claws at its prey. If its prey escapes, its luck will run out within about 24 hours for it is not the bite that will kill them but the saliva, which has over 50 strains of bacteria. Komodos will follow their dying prey for miles until blood poisoning sets in.

A Komodo dragon can eat up to 80 percent of its body weight in a single feeding and males can measure up to 9 feet and weigh 550 pounds after a hefty meal.

Marj and I spent most of the rest of the afternoon under the sea in a plethora of multi-coloured sea life. Our interests are so similar it makes it ridiculously easy to have fun with her. If you are ever in need of constant giggling and high spirits – Marj is your go to girl!

We got to Flores, our final destination, in the late afternoon and set out to find accommodations. Even though the situation had grown more favourable due to the boat being in the harbour without the wind, constant yammering of the boat engine and random wave spilling over us, none of us were too keen to sleep on deck again.

Despite its name, Flores was not what I had hoped. It reminded me of the Asia I dislike – the garbage. The concept of putting garbage in a receptacle just isn't a high priority. Their was only a handful of guest houses to choose from and after walking around for almost 3 hours, we accepted defeat and looked forward to another FIRM sleep on old faithful!

Our disappointment was offset by a having a nice little dinner together filled with laughter and chattering. Ernesto tried to teach Marj and I ze French accent – frustrating for Ernesto, funny for us! It warmed my heart to be part of this little group. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt this happy.

The sleep was not surprisingly much deeper when the boat was still, and we were awoken at 5:30 AM by the crew. On the bright side, this was prime picture taking time and I took full advantage of it.

We had breakfast and got transport out to the hotel that we booked the night before which was out of town. We watched the sunset and took photos of the fishermen on the beach that night and all the kids running amok. I had to take a moment to remind myself how lucky I am to have had this experience. I thought of what I would be doing in Vancouver at that moment....and didn’t miss that life one teensy smidgen of a little tiny bit.

"Travelling is like flirting with life. It's like saying, 'I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'"

-Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

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