Flores fun – part 3: underwater world

After we left Komodo Island, the boat stopped at a few choice snorkeling spots. The first was “Manta Point”, where we would be able to swim with manta rays. C and I hopped out and floated around for a while. But it was a bust, no mantas. The next spot was a sheltered rock-face, but surrounded on either side with brutal currents: only B got to go on this one. And he was lucky! The group saw at least two turtles, and B followed one of them around, filming it NatGeo-style.


We made it back to island in time for a lovely dinner on the beach, under some glowing lanterns and the soft light of sunset.


We also spent our last day on the island snorkeling. C and I went out in the early morning, hoping to see all the underwater creatures starting their day – but we should have checked the tide report first, because the day was on its way toward an incredibly low tide, and all of the coral beds were already beginning to peek out of water’s surface. We still managed to get into the water at a deeper point from the dock, and spent about half an hour circling the coral’s edge around the base of the island. It was a busy morning for the ocean creatures after all, and we saw all sorts of fish. Here are my taxonomically accurate descriptions: long skinny fish, big-eyed red ones, ‘Scar’ from Finding Nemo, shiny tiny blue ones, flat silver ones, plus a few lionfish!

Later that morning, we settled on the beach so the kids could play, and I took LittleB for his first-ever snorkel around a shallow lagoon. It was getting warm, but we still saw quite a few little coral feeders. Snorkeling with kids is all fun and games until someone forgets how to float (him), or doesn’t remember how to breathe in a snorkel (him), or freaks out and steps on the coral (him). Luckily there was no great damage to either kid or wildlife.

Next up, B decided to go out on his own a bit further from shore. While he was away, I spent the time playing ‘rock or coral’ with the kids, where you grab a big piece of sediment from the shallow water and try to guess if it’s – you guessed it – ‘rock’ or ‘coral’. It’s about as fun as it sounds. Then we played ‘the tiniest shell of them all’, where you try to find – you guessed it again! – the ‘tiniest shell of them all’. I won, hands down. Meanwhile, as it turned out, B’s trip was lucky again. He stumbled onto a huge reef shark basking in the water, and again, followed it around NatGeo-style (hoping it wouldn’t get aggressive and chomp him. Actually, we’re pretty sure he was safe, reef sharks just eat little fish. Maybe I should confirm that…. yep, just back from Wikipedia, where apparently what he saw was a very large bamboo shark, and “They are sluggish fish, feeding off bottom dwelling invertebrates and smaller fish.” Phew!).


We spent the rest of the lazy afternoon swinging in the hammocks by the shore.

That evening the tide came back in, so C and I ventured out again. This time, we were treated to a colorful scene of fish and coral beds as far as we could see. The late sun was angling through the surface, with a warm glow. This trip definitely felt the most like ‘Finding Nemo’ – you know, because that’s where basically all of my ocean knowledge comes from. But we did see some neat things, bright purple coral, an octopus, and even a (presumably venomous) sea snake! (Ok, ok, checking…. well, apparently we probably saw a banded sea krait, that IS venemous but not aggressive toward divers. Phew!)

That evening, we ate on the beach next to another glorious sunset, and sat up late watching our friendly house gecko eat giant cicadas. Good times. Tomorrow we would be heading back to the mainland for a few days of camping! See you there.

Carnival and turtles

We have been very busy lately. B has started work here, which means our days are a bit more hectic. After our Krakatoa trip, we were all a bit under the weather. And then I was away last weekend again. So I hope this coming weekend will be a relaxing one.

In the meantime, we’ve had a few exciting events around here. Last week, the school had a “Swimming Carnival” and LittleB did really well. He won three 2nd-place ribbons and his house team won the whole championship. It was a fun morning!

Ready to take off with his noodle
Ready to take off with his noodle
Swim faster!
Swim faster!
It's a close race!
It’s a close race!
He makes it to the finish line!
He makes it to the finish line!
Ribbon awarded
Ribbon awarded
Now for some fun tube games
Now for some fun tube games

Then, last weekend, I went with some colleagues to an island off the coast to take my open water diving test. It was a success! We did four dives, and saw lots of great fish and several sea turtles! I think if you are going to learn how to dive, it makes sense to do it somewhere beautiful like Indonesia.

Sri Lanka part 1 – the beach

We arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, after a very early morning flight out of Jakarta. Our driver picked us up and took us about 2 hours down the coast to a beach town called Bentota. It was beautiful.

The place we stayed at was more like a bed & breakfast than a hotel and was thus much more relaxing and comfortable. We had a lovely suite overlooking the backyard pool and forest across the horizon. We enjoyed wonderful home-cooked food that evening, as well as a delicious Sri Lankan traditional breakfast the next morning – after waking up to the sounds of rainforest birds and cooing doves. I recorded it for you (close your eyes for full effect):

On our second day, we decided to go into town and visit the famous “Monday Market”. We also needed to try and change some money — FYI, don’t bring Indonesian Rupiah to Sri Lanka, because no one will change it for you. They will just laugh and ask you to leave.

The market was a bit smaller than we expected, but it was still nice to see all the products for sale. We bought a few man-sarongs for B and some yummy mangosteens. Then the afternoon was beach day!

We walked up to the beach from the hotel and spent the rest of the day playing in the ocean and sand. We have never seen such a nice beach. Miles and miles of beautiful sand and warm, blue water. The undertow was a bit rough, but it was still great.

That evening, we visited a turtle hatchery and got to release the babies into the ocean. They were adorable, swimming out into the waves. A few kept rolling back to shore and we had to start them over. Hopefully they made it… Either way, in my opinion, this was probably the highlight of our trip! There’s nothing better than holding a handful of turtles to make your year!

 

The next day, we were picked up by our safari guide in his awesome 4×4 jeep, and we headed away from the beach for our safari days. Those are coming up next!