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Deeter and I with the kids after our visit to the village of Wera

We awoke overlooking a tiny village named Wera and after breakfast took a tour of the town. One of the things women are known for here is their amazing weaving capabilities. They sit with their loom, a lot of them in a dark area under their typcial long houses-basically a house built on stilts-and weave alllllll day long. It’s nuts. We tour the village and check out a couple of these places where the women are weaving. The kids in the town think we are all pretty amazing to watch and I make two friends who just walk and look at me like I’m the strangest thing they have ever seen. Then all the kids want to be friends with us and try out their English. There are lots of high fives going around and overall the kids are just fun. We also check out the locals building a new phinisi boat and the conditions are quite rustic. It’s incredibly impressive that they can build something like this in these conditions.

Then we are off to see again almost to Komodo. We arrive at Gili Lawar Darat and go for an afternoon snorkel-we see our first couple of sea turtles and man do I love them. However, I must say that I was fairly paranoid and kept a close eye out for swimming komodo dragons and salt water crocodiles-thankfully we saw neither. There are lots of little plankton that keep biting and some other tourists around. There are these boats-probably 15 meters long that are called back packer boats. Apparently they house 20 tourists and provide two meals a day and haul people around different places. There is no shower-it looks miserable! We watch the sunset off the Al Iikai once we are back on board and settle into dinner.

Two of the ladies who were traveling with us graciously decided to stay in the same room so we could escape the fumes and we were so incredibly grateful!! Made for much better sleeping.

Andreas-the 70 year old gentleman traveling with us-decides to make us a traditional brazilian drink-two limes mushed up, one tablespoon of sugar, crushed ice and vodka. They were delicious and might be my new favorite drink! Then we laze around and watch the stars come out before quickly heading to sleep-we were pooped!

The next day we move to Makassar reef in an attempt to swim with the Manta Rays. On the first snorkel Deeter and I saw one and an Eagle ray. I am so impressed with the Mantas-they are huge-some with a wingspan ranging 15-20 feet. We also discover what our host said were octopus egg sacks were actually a very not awesome brand of jelly fish. We do a couple other snorkels while waiting to see if more Mantas will come out. We snorkel on a shallow portion of the Makassar reef until we start running into jelly fish and it was beautiful-pretty great coral and sea life!

As we are getting ready to take off towards Komodo, the crew notes a slew of Mantas skimming the surface so we take off quickly in hopes of swimming with them. We pile into the water and immediately a jelly fish wraps itself around my left thigh and slides down the whole thing, but I am determined to swim with the darn Mantas! So I keep following-we see a couple a bit away and then my right leg gets attacked by jelly fish and I am done.

Deeter kept at it for a while longer until he got stung in the face and after a few expletives he opted out of the hunt too. We were able to see some from the surface and these things were huge!!! We then head off towards the “famous” pink beach on Komodo. We snorkel for a bit and lay on the sand-it’s kind of nice to be on solid ground for just a bit.

Deeter kept at it for a while longer until he got stung in the face and after a few expletives he opted out of the hunt too. We were able to see some from the surface and these things were huge!!! We then head off towards the “famous” pink beach on Komodo. We snorkel for a bit and lay on the sand-it’s kind of nice to be on solid ground for just a bit.

We see dolphins along the way, and what we think were Minky whales and an octopus tonight! The next day we start out at Komodo park on Rinca Island. We see Komodo dragons at the ranger park and that’s about it. They are impressive creatures. We are forced to hire a “ranger” guide and they take us on a walk through the park with these big sticks that are forked at the end as protection from any approaching dragons, but come to find out they say the sticks don’t really do much anyhow…so that’s not awesome. We make it through the park without incident and are off to snorkel somewhere in the area.

We took it easy this afternoon-we both had caught a bit of a cold and were still recovering from not sleeping.

The next morning was the last day for our travel guests. We dropped them at the airport in Lubuan bajo on the island of Flores. Il Him-one of the guys on the boat is from Flores-a village six hours from here. We went ashore and got massages and then back on board and off we go as we race back to Bali. We had a frickin delicous lunch of grilled cheese, onion and tomato sandwiches with the best french fries. Then we had a snorkel through a channel that had a serious current-you basically just hold on tight and let the waters take you where they will. It was really cool-there was a really deep crevice and there were 300 pound tuna in there, a sea turtle and Deeter got some great video of a black tip shark…that part was not my favorite:)

During dinner that night, since it was just the two of us now on pretty much our own private pirate ship, we got to really chat it up with some of the staff and they are some great people. The boys really wanted to talk about Fast and the Furious…turns out that series transcends all languages…who knew?? And of course they think Deeter looks like Vin Diesel…EVERYONE here does!

Turns out these guys live on this boat for the vast majority of the year. They return home once a year to see their wives and kids-and this isn’t an odd thing. They are from a village known for sending males out to sea and they expect them to return once a year. Seems like a hard life! But they know nothing different and I guess it works for them.

Seas were pretty rough that night-seriously thought I was going to get tossed out of bed and it definitely makes showering a bit more interesting.

On the 13th we arrive back in Satonda and do a drift snorkel-Deeter was hoping to see more sharks, I was thankful we didn’t! and then we had another couple of snorkels in Maya before heading out for the night. Here we see a banded sea snake. We spent most of the night on the deck watching the islands and stars pass by-just beautiful.

Our last full day on board brought us back to the Gili Islands. We started with a snorkel by Gili Meno overlying a sunken Japonese WWII ship and we ended with swimming with the sea turtles-which I loved!! We saw at least 12 of them and they are so relaxed and smooth it’s great to watch them so closely!

We moored that night in a little hideaway overlooking Lombok and got to see the sun rise over the island the next morning before heading west to Bali. We stopped along the way to do two quick snorkels-one by a jetty and one where you feed the fish…needless to say this had me a little worried. But in the water we went! Under the jetty I may or may not have lost my shit…I mean it was dark, visibility was bad (couldn’t see the bottom), there was a strong current, there were literally THOUSANDS of fish, there were guys fishing around us AND I kept hitting the jetty…so I might have climbed into the tender boat a little before Deeter did:) Then we headed over to feed the fish but they weren’t biting much, currents were bad and I was pretty much still freaking out from the last experience-I just kept picturing one of these brightly colored fish giving me the stink eye while nawing on my leg! So back on the boat to Bali we went.

As we approached Bali, a big swell hit us and the boat would gently rock back and forth-you could see these huge mountains of water slowly approaching and receding as they passed-it was so serene and calming.

Once we hit Bali, we docked and the boat took us to shore. We were met by our driver from our west Bali hotel and were off. Pictures to come in their own post!

I have to say this was a once in a lifetime experience-such amazing people and we really got to know them and bug them and learn so much about the Balinese culture…did you know that they have more than 140 religious holidays a year that keeps them from working??? We were incredibly fortunate to have the chance to do this and even more so that we got the boat to ourselves for three days!!! A truly amazing way to spend our anniversary…sure is gonna be hard to top this next year:)

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