July 4, 2017 - Another good day. I woke up somewhere in the 6 o'clock hour, unintentionally, and tried to get back to sleep. I think I was somewhat successful, and finally got up around 7:20. Breakfast started at 7am and I could hear a couple people there. Breakfast was not nearly as impressive as dinner - some white bread, lot of spreads, boiled eggs. Not bad, but not exciting.
But the plans for the day made up for it. Everyone but Olivier decided to go to Ile aux Cocos - Coconut Island - today, and we were leaving at 8:45. Olivier had already been, and was leaving to start his journey home today. He has a pick-up truck, though, and offered us a lift, which was great. We drove there through Port Mathurin, the capital, so I could get some more cash out of the machine. I had planned to pay for this guesthouse with a credit card, not realizing that I had to pay in cash, so I hadn't gotten enough money from the machine in the airport.
We arrived at the boat, and said good-bye to Olivier. I got his email address. As an important scientist
in his field and a generally cool guy, I'd like to keep in touch. Plus he lives in a cool place in France, so maybe we can meet up again sometime. The boat to the island was small, but fit the five of us plus the captain comfortably. The skies were raining to the side and behind us, but the island looked clear. The guys fished with a line - no pole - while we went out and also on the way back, and they caught about five fish. They just threw them in a bucket, which I guess is normal, but it made me feel terrible and reminded me that I really should be a vegetarian. I'm such a hypocrite. I need to work on that.
I had seen Coconut Island from the plane, but wasn't sure if that was it. It is oval shaped, very flat, has a sandy beach all around and trees in the middle. It is also a protected bird habitat. In the summer there are thousands of birds nesting there, and you can't walk in the center of the island because of the disruption to the nests and nesting. There are still plenty
of birds now, but it is safer to walk around.
When we arrived, there was another boat there that brought a family of four and a group of three. We were everyone - excellent. The ranger said in the summer there are so many more people, and it's hot and crowded. This was the right time to be there. We had a tour around the paths and explanations of the island and the birds. One of the main birds found there is the all-white fairy tern. They are adorable. They lay their eggs in trees. No nest, just right in a crevice of a branch. That's hard work. We actually saw one nesting with an egg, which seems unusual for this time of year. They also hover around you if you get too close to the nest - impressive to see. Brown noddies are also there now. They lay their eggs in little nests they make in the trees and around the trees. We saw one with a chick. There are other birds that lay eggs right on the sand, no nests, but they were not there today.
After the tour, Julien, Margo and Walter went snorkeling and
Julia and I went in the water a bit and laid on the beach. So, after a week, I got in the water. But it's a little cool and I didn't go all the way in. Brrr. Afterwards, we had lunch, which was octopus, cabbage salad and fish (but not the ones the guys caught - there is no cooking on the island). So, not a vegetarian yet. But it was tasty. We had a little more time and I spent it chatting and then taking a few more pictures. I realized my pictures were starting to look hazy as the filter over my lens is quite dirty. I tried to clean it, but sunscreen and salt do not help. Hoping I can get it clean tonight.
At 2pm we headed back to the mainland, and it looked like we were going to ride right into a storm, but somehow it blew by us. I'm still not sure how we dodged it. Maybe Jean Michel, our captain, is just that good. I did get quite soaked anyway, as the water would splash over the boat, depending on the angle we were to the land. It took about an hour
to get back and then we started walking in the direction of the capital, looking for the bus, should it come. After a short time we hailed a pick-up truck, and the driver drove us into town. Very nice. On the way to the bus station, there was a boy cutting coconuts that you could put a straw in and drink. Everyone else got one but I was still full from lunch. Less than a dollar for the coconut juice and meat. Not bad.
There was no bus directly to St. Francois when we showed up at the station, but we got another going nearby. We had to walk about 15 minutes along the beach, but who can complain? When I got back they offered me Olivier's upstairs room. I was pretty sure I would just stay in mine, since it would be a hassle to pack it all up again, but the husband doesn't speak English, and he showed me how the door locks, how the hot water in the shower works, and it seemed a done deal that I would be moving. The room is a little smaller but nicer, with a better view. A nice move.
I showered and finally washed my hair. Probably a bad idea to try this shampoo bar. Something tells me my hair will take ages to dry and then feel terrible. But it felt so good to wash the sea off. I love looking at the beach but prefer swimming in fresh water every time.
Dinner was lovely, with pork and fish, along with two salads and rice and beans. It was a bit lonelier without Olivier, who made sure to talk to me in English. Tonight I mostly just listened to the French, trying to figure out what was being said. I have an easier time of this with German and Dutch.
There were four geckos in my bathroom tonight. Overall, a good day. And tomorrow, we do it again.
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