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Published: October 17th 2009
In order to go see the dragons out on the Komodo islands, our only realistic option was a four day boat cruise. I think we were all a bit wary about being on a relatively small boat out on the open ocean for four days, but in the end we figured the ends justified the means. I mean, dragons, we were going to see dragons. Enormous lizards that hunt and eat water buffalo. Nine feet long, over 200 pounds.
Our first day on the boat did little to reassure us that it our decision to go was the right one. We cruised along in our little modified fishing boat pitching and rolling massively for five hours. No one got sick but we were definitely clutching at the railings to prevent ourselves from flopping all over the deck. We stopped for a few hours for some dinner and star gazing after which the whole lot of us (15 tourists in all) laid down side by side on the top deck to get some sleep. What seemed like only a few hours later, at 2 AM, our exceedingly noisy diesel engine was fired back up and we were back
out on the ocean being tossed around at the seas will.
After a day of snorkeling (we saw hundreds of little squids, an eery eel garden, a turtle and a lobster) and hiking, we set out on what would be the longest non stop sailing portion of the trip; seventeen hours. As luck would have it, we ran into a storm during the night. Sam and I, who had mistakenly chosen to sleep with our bodies in line with the boats forward motion instead of perpendicular, spent the better part of the night bracing ourselves from rolling all over the place. Anytime we might have slipped into the faintest of sleeps our bodies would slide and roll to the other side of the boat. Sam had to apologize about four times for having steamrolled the poor Spanish couple sleeping next to him. Im not going to lie, in my delirious state of sleep deprivation I had figured there was about a 20% chance that we would capsize and I ran through our options if we did. In retrospect, there probably wasn any chance of actually capsizing, but it certainly felt that way.
By our third day, after some
more hiking and snorkeling, we had finally arrived at Komodo Island, one of the two islands the dragons live on. A ranger lead us on a walk through the National park and 10 minutes into it he spotted a full grown male waltzing along through the brush. We followed it cautiously through the thickets until he finally came to stop. We gathered round, timidly snapping photos and admiring him as he looked right back at us. He eventually got a bit scared and scuttled off, but our ranger was intent on getting a better view and so we started to follow him some more. We were walking single file, with me somewhere in the middle and Sam in Caitlin right in the front. The dragon mustve decide that he was sick of us following him, because he turned and charged right at Sam and Caitlin, who hid behind some pitifully small saplings. The ranger reached out and slammed a long stick in the dragons path causing him to veer off course just enough. The dragon continued to run at a solid clip, bulldozing through the thickets while we stood stunned and a little too nervous to say anything until the
dragon was well out of view. We ended up seeing plenty more dragons that day and the next, all of which paid us far less attention.
On our last day, I think we were all thankful that we would be getting off the boat. Especially because the night before I had walked by the Captains room and seen our guide smoking something funny out of a homemade pipe. He didn seem particularly shy about it and happily confided to Sam and I in his broken english that he was smoking sabu sabu. He didn know the word in English but said, "Its like crystals, it makes you happy and awake." I had assumed it was crystal meth he was talking about, and we confirmed this later when we looked up sabu sabu on the internet. Other than the fact that he was occasionally high on speed, our guide Oddy was a friendly guy, a little strange, but nice. He never steered the boat.
Just one more little anecdote. We sprung for a flight to leave Flores and get us going to our next destination. The airport was small, as could be expected. When we checked in, we did
the usual, handed over our tickets and weighed our bags. But after the bags were weighed, they pointed to Caitlin and directed her to stand on the scale. We thought it was a joke, but with genuine sincerity they insisted she step on the scale. After they made a note and announced her weight to the surrounding crowd, Sam and I were weighed. That was new.
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